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Our culture of busyness is wasting our time

This time last year, I was thousands of miles away. I’ve been reminiscing quite a bit on the finer points of my time abroad (the eighty degree and over October weather comes to mind), and one anecdote in particular sticks out. My first full day in India, I had the privilege of meeting Yoginder Sikand, a religious scholar and intellectual. His first (of many) questions to me was a simple one: “Why don’t we take more time to look at the clouds?” I think this question is even more fitting a year later.

The clouds aren’t a popular source of my attention these days. As Concordia student, or a college student more broadly, a live a full life.  I know that I’m not alone in that regard. I may, however, be alone in two: I make it a point to never describe myself as “busy,” and I do not live a stressful life. How many times a day do we hear the words “busy” or “stressed?” The irony is that, for as much as we hear people are busy, we never discuss the matter. It can feel like Cobbers see stress as a badge of honor, but I view it as something to eliminate.

College students have plenty to do, and too much time to do it – not too little. Our time spent before college is largely structured – either by our high school or by our parents. College, on the other hand, necessitates ownership and management of our whole days, from morning class to night class. This transition isn’t an easy one, and it honestly still feels a bit unnatural to me several years after I’ve started. Feeling like a day was productive is a daunting task. I believe that – faced with this challenge – we default to the simple solution of being busy. Perhaps due to the curse of Minnestoa niceness, Cobbers are notoriously likely to agree to join teams or projects. By filling our time as much as possible, we can reflect on a day well spent – even if there were less time consuming and stressful ways to do it.

More and more, this is the new normal even beyond college. Consider the Harvard Business Review blog, which ran a post bemoaning how even professionals prioritize time spent working over tasks being accomplished. I would not be surprised if this trait was a holdover from college. As long as we can say we’re doing something, we can’t be criticized for not doing enough. If this trait started in college, maybe we can do something to address it here.  I believe in doing less with more purpose. I give coursework full attention, get plenty of sleep, and – dare I admit it – quit activities if my schedule is full. As much as I love credentials, I can survive without having multiple leadership positions on my resume this year. As break begins, I intend to reflect on how this first session of the year has gone, and I welcome you to join me. Let’s find time to take some deep breaths, enjoy the coming recess, and look at the clouds.

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