There Are Two Kinds of “Busy.” Is Yours the Good Kind?

It Takes an Egg Timer by Joanne Tombrakos

The following is excerpted from It Takes an Egg Timer: A Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life by Joanne Tombrakos (@JoanneTombrakos). It’s a brief but essential guide about how to get stuff done, while also helping you understand when and how self-sabotage occurs! Find out more on Amazon, or visit the author’s website.


Technology’s intent was to simplify our lives. And if used properly, it can maximize our time. I’m a big fan of technology. But one of its big downsides is how it can create the illusion that we are so much more important than we really are.

We go nowhere without our cell phones. In fact, I can break out in a cold sweat if I lose my precious iPhone for one minute in the bottom of my purse. We are connected 24/7, and we interpret that to mean we need to be engaged with it 24/7. If we are not careful, the mobile phone becomes the most important item in our life, instead of the people and work we want to engage with. We get consumed with the busyness it creates and not in creation. Worse, it produces those knots of anxiety in our belly, among the biggest time wasters of them all.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe each and every one of us to be important beings on this planet. But our interconnected world that has shown us its benefits also distorts that importance to mean being on call 24/7 to everything and everyone.

This is where we can lose sight of what we need to be most engaged with—ourselves, our work, and the people in our lives who are important to us, not our smartphone or our computer.

“I’m really too busy for all this.”

Another part of this self-important obsession is this idea of “busy.” At the moment, it is my number one pet peeve. Ask someone, anyone, right now, how they are and the first thing liable to come out of their mouth is, “I’m so busy.” Ask them what they are so busy with and all they can offer is a furrowed brow and one of those exhausted breaths that seems to have been added on for dramatic effect.

By definition, “busy” can be a verb or an adjective. It can be synonymous with occupied, involved, engaged, and concerned.

But it can also denote preoccupied, distracted, diverted, overblown, overwrought, overdone, and fussy.

Most of us say we are busy because we live in a place that is hectic and cluttered. If our busyness were more positive—being involved and engaged—our response would be specific about the great stuff we are absorbed in. But it’s not, because we are too busy to even get that specific.

Take a moment. Write down specifically what kept you “busy” today. Then determine which definition of “busy” it falls under.

Basic Rules of the Egg Timer

The point of using an egg timer is to busy ourselves with what engages us, not what distracts us from our purpose and our path. The basic rules are:

  • Turn off your e-mail.
  • Do not answer the phone unless you are awaiting a call on the cure for cancer.
  • Set the timer. Do not get up until it rings.

Work-Life Balance

Let’s be clear. There is no such thing as work-life balance, so if you think the egg timer is the solution, think again. The idea of work-life balance is that it is a destination we arrive at. I don’t believe that. Like life itself or love, it is about the journey. In other words, I think of it more as a seesaw.

There are precious moments when it is level, and you really and truly believe you have a handle on it all. But for the most part, one is always weighing more than the other, depending on the hour of the day or the day of the week or the month in the year. The egg timer can assist you to have control over which parts of your life are requiring more attention at any given moment. But work-life balance? If you continue to see it as a destination, the egg timer will not do much to improve upon it.


To keep enjoying more insights from this book—with more detail on how to use the egg timer to best effect—I encourage you to check out Joanne’s book on Amazon. The first chapter is available for free.

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Posted in Creativity + Inspiration, Guest Post and tagged , , .

A writer, coach and speaker as well as the author of a novel, The Secrets They Kept, Joanne blogs on living and working after corporate America at One Woman's Eye She and her egg timer reside in New York City.

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