I’m so busy… doing the wrong things.

Written by: Alan Rodway

In one way or another, we have written about being busy several times on our website. But it seems to becoming even more prominent in today’s world.

Being busy is a problem when it doesn’t lead to improvement, causes high levels of stress or, most importantly, leads to less enjoyment of life.

“I’m so busy I don’t have time to … think, get the important things done, appreciate what I have, be me, see my family, plan, see my friends, look after myself, relax, help others, reflect …”. If this is you then it will only change if you change.

The solution starts and stops with the self realisation that it’s a choice and not what the world is doing to us. It’s our choice of what we do and don’t do, on a daily basis. We all have control over what we do with our time. This is true of both our careers and our lives.

In our careers, we use concepts and phrases such as time management, delegation, working to priorities, doing the high value activities … to deal with being busy. But they only help to get things done, they don’t deal fundamentally with life and happiness. In fact, they can mislead us into continuing a possibly misplaced set of priorities.

Many people are not taught a lot about life in their formal education. Some of the greatest teachers about life have emphasized through history that ‘being’ is as important as ‘doing’. Who we are and what we are should determine what we do, not the other way around. If we are caught up in the doing then who we are and what we are can become blurred, unknown, even disturbing. Spending inordinate time doing, rushing, keeping up, can lead to failure and unhappiness … in life, not just in our careers. Only involvement with what is truly important to our core creates success. Sometimes we can represent success to ourselves in misleading ways, in ways that later seem less important. That is most likely to occur through a lack of reflection at the time, so being busy can be dangerous.

Life is not meant to be controlled nor cured. It’s meant to be managed and enjoyed. Giving up the attempt to control life is freeing. Success and happiness is more about appreciating life, how short it is and truly enjoying what it can offer us rather than time management techniques to deal with being busy. Imagine an epitaph reading “He/she was really busy”.

Some signs of being too busy:

  1. Unable to be present;
  2. Constantly rushing or feeling you’re rushing;
  3. Seeing your family and friends too little;
  4. Feeling unhappy inside;
  5. Feeling stressed too often;
  6. Feeling you never get enough done;
  7. Preoccupation with deadlines;
  8. Wondering what it’s all really about, when you do slow down;
  9. Holiday breaks are your apparent solution to feeling better;
  10. You don’t ask for help (often enough);
  11. Feeling of loneliness, inside;
  12. When you talk more about how busy you are, than fixing it;
  13. If slowing down or doing nothing makes you bored;
  14. If doing little sometimes, represents a lack of success to you;
  15. Being busy because of outside forces rather than choosing to be busy;
  16. Impatient, irritable, short tempered.

Being busy can:

  1. Prevent you being present with family, friends and colleagues;
  2. Cause you to miss opportunities;
  3. Damage friendships;
  4. Damage your health;
  5. Cause you to lose your true purpose.

In a business world where we have progressed so little in truly valuing people any wonder the ‘so busy’ problem is still prominent and negatively affecting people’s lives as well as productivity . We still don’t build in the opportunity, the expectation, for people to feel good about themselves and others around them, rather than procedures to ‘get things done’. It’s such flawed thinking that profit comes from doing. No, it doesn’t. It comes from a group of people who feel good about themselves, feel good about those around them and are committed to something they value … as is the case for the rest of our lives.

Sometimes people even mismanage their health by being busy. That’s an obviously ridiculous choice to make, albeit an unconscious one. Feeling tired, feeling ill or living a shorter life than is possible should not be accidental choices that we make.

Surely, our most important role in life is to be true to a self we are proud of and to role model that to our families and others. Being busy doesn’t achieve that.

So:

  1. Breathe, Relax, Stop, Think, Reflect, Appreciate, Be;
  2. Realize that decisions matter more than tasks;
  3. Declutter, physically and mentally;
  4. Be clear on who you are and what you are … and spend most time there.

Success in business and success in life are not at odds. That only happens when the approaches are fundamentally wrong. They are in harmony, as our lives should be.

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