THE BUSYNESS TRAP

How are you? So busy!

Do you want to get together for lunch or coffee? I would, but I'm too busy!

IS THIS YOUR LIFE?

Are you so busy that you don't have time to cultivate relationships with family and friends? Is your life primarily filled with work? chores? chauffeuring your kids to activities?

If so, perhaps you have fallen into the busyness trap. That place where your life feels manic and your minutes are packed with meaningless tasks and chores that you do not enjoy.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

Our obsession with busy did not happen overnight. It's been creeping in over the past decade or two. In Brigid Schulte's book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, she shares research that has been done looking at 50 years of Christmas Letters. These annual letters are intended to provide an overview of a family's activities for the year and are sent out to close friends and family. The study found that the trend in these letters (and I'm sure you've noticed) is towards crazy schedules and busyness. The parents are super-busy in their jobs and the kids are crazy-busy with sports, music, volunteering, and leadership activities.

HUMBLEBRAGGING ABOUT BUSYNESS

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A recent Harvard Business Review article, Research: Why Americans Are So Impressed by Busyness, suggests that part of the problem is that busyness and lack of free time are glamorized by the media. As recent as the 1990s, advertising for luxury items featured wealthy people in fancy cars or lounging on yachts. Today's ads feature very busy professionals with little leisure time.

One reason for claiming 'busyness' is that it makes you appear in greater demand, and therefore, more successful. Unfortunately, we know that there are significant negative effects on health when you maintain an overworked lifestyle.

A 2014 article, also in Harvard Business Review, Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy, blames the "busyness" bubble on the convergence of three trends: smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. This has resulted in both information and opinion overload as well the belief that you need to be superhuman and do absolutely everything to appear successful.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Here are 3 suggestions to avoid the busyness trap:

  1. Take a step back: Instead of adding to your calendar, try to take things out. Focus more on your top priorities and less on trying to be all things to all people.
  2. Find quiet time: Whether through meditation, yoga, or another peaceful practice, find time to relax and reflect. This will better enable you to identify your priorities.
  3. Get enough sleep: When you are super-busy, your sleep suffers. Getting enough sleep enables you to make better decisions and not feel caught up in the 'crazy.'

Rather than worry about whether others view you as successful and important, focus on how you feel about where you spend your time, who you spend it with, and what you have accomplished. This will enable you to flourish and improve your overall wellbeing while avoiding the busyness trap.

Let me know if you'd like to get together for coffee.

For more great tips, check out these recent blog posts:

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