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Why You Are So Busy And Four Ways to Start Changing It

Here is the problem a lot of us face, we become so busy, often doing things we don’t really want to do, that we don’t stop and evaluate our busyness. Is it temporary or chronic? Is it ‘shoulds’ or ‘want tos’? Is it to satisfy the ego or to satisfy our soul? Chronic busyness is a big problem and if we don’t deal with it, it will have some major ramifications on every aspect of our life. It is time to stop, take a break, and ask a few questions: Why are we so busy? Why are we so addicted to it? And is all that busyness giving us the life that we want?

Why are we so busy?

  1. Fear of irrelevance

  2. Research shows one of the biggest reasons we remain in this hamster wheel of busyness is because it makes us feel relevant. If we aren’t busy all the time does that mean we aren’t valuable to our employer? “We are fearful of missing out…one of the biggest shame triggers at work for us is relevance. Our fear is that we’ll be perceived as not relevant or not necessary.” (Brene Brown) We wear our busyness like some award we won. And if we aren’t careful we can fall in to a competition for who is the busiest and start judging those we don’t think are as busy as us, but who really wants to win that? We live in a society convinced busy equals success, but if we get really honest with ourselves it rarely does. Busyness also does not equal productivity and it does not equal effectiveness. You may be trying to juggle a bunch of things and not be doing anyone them really well or even accomplishing what you set out to. Being busy doesn’t make you better than anyone else, it doesn’t make you more impressive, it doesn’t increase your status, but are you hoping that it will?

Defense mechanism

  1. How many times have you been late, cancelled a meeting or get together, not made a phone call home, or lacked even communicating with loved ones and said ‘I have just been so busy’? We have all been there. This is not to take away from the times that we do have a lot on our plate, but when we are chronically busy and continue to use that as an excuse maybe it is because we aren’t dealing with why we feel being busy is more important than those other things. Why we are unable to say no to things we don’t want to do or don’t have time for. And why we are saying no to the things that are more important or meaningful to us. Busyness is a GREAT way to NOT deal with the things in your life that you need to. What if you are spending all this time being busy, because you don’t want to have to look around and deal with some real stuff? Like that you actually hate your job, or you don’t have connection with your significant other, or that you haven’t pursued anything you really want to do, or you don’t feel worthy unless you are busy, or all those other demons rummaging around in your closet.

Why are we so addicted to busyness?

Listen, technology certainly hasn’t helped as we can now be constantly connected to work. We can’t help but check our emails and texts at any and all hours. We feel like we have to. We are addicted to it. We are addicted to our phones and our own relevance. Are you guilty of this? Of taking the free time you actually have and spending it on your phone? Responding to emails, that let’s be honest could really wait until the work week? That is because “busyness addiction is exactly like any other addiction or comforting habit: It helps us relax and feel good in the moment, but once we stop, we’re forced to face whatever discomfort comes up. Understand that the amount of hours you spend on something doesn’t equal your success” (Forbes). Maybe your addiction is not just limitless access to technology but also includes your desire to be a people pleaser. You know this is you when you constantly feel obligated or guilty if you don’t everything that everyone is asking you to do, so you do it even when you don’t want to. You are living your life by doing more of the ‘shoulds’ than the ‘want tos’ and that is exhausting you. Which brings us to the last point…

Is being busy giving you the life you want?

Chronic busyness actually keeps us from doing what we want. Or even thinking about it. We are going to talk about this more in next week’s blog but until then think about this question: Are you taking part in things you love and want to do or are you just busy?

Until next week a couple of ways to start working on your busy:

  1. Stop using the word busy: Every time you want to use it, stop, and rethink (if you use it all the time you are honestly annoying everyone around you, another reason to stop)

  2. External schedule: Look at your schedule what can you take off that you really don’t want to do?

  3. Internal: Start asking yourself why you are so busy? Are you avoiding something? What is it? Remember this is just for you, so don’t waste time lying to yourself.

  4. Set hours that you do not do work in the evenings and weekend. AND STICK TO IT.

Last thought on Busyness: The Physical Side Effects

Have you ever been so busy that when you finally take a break you get sick? Or when you finally get a break you look back and realize just how much stress you were putting on yourself? God knows I have and I am guessing you have to. You know why? Because our body perceives busy as stress, and stress is not good for us. Here are just some symptoms of chronic busyness and another reason to nip it in the bud.

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Constant worrying

  • Racing thoughts

  • Forgetfulness and disorganization

  • Inability to focus

Physical symptoms:

  • Low energy

  • Headaches

  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles

  • Insomnia

  • Frequent colds and infections

  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability