A quick Google search on the effects of busyness will get you hundreds of results which describe the state of being “busy” as the fact of working hard or giving your attention to a particular thing; the state of a place that is full of activity or people or a situation in which there are many things to do (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021). Being busy does not necessarily have to carry a negative connotation, as long as the act of being busy is serving its purpose and intention.
Nevertheless, many of us may end up filling our schedule with unessential tasks, in order to feel important and worthy. This busy mode can become our safe place to hide, from things which we fear and overwhelm us. Yet this process can easily lead to burnout. A cycle of busyness may often hide up things in our lives which we fear to face. These can be values of not being respected, good enough or worthy if we are not busy all the time. On the other hand, not being busy may also bring up the fear of having to be present for others, letting people down or taking up responsibility for the things that matter most in life. So how can we engage in getting busy in a more sensible way?
1. Complete one task at a time
Many researchers show how multitasking does not really lead to an increase in productivity, but it only creates the illusion of productivity. No matter how efficient and fast we may think we are, by engaging in multiple tasks at one time, our physical and mental well-being are likely to crumble down.
2. Learn to say NO
As pleasing as it may sound, saying yes to every opportunity which comes our way may bring about a positive boost, yet it will not last long. Committing ourselves to plans which we cannot keep will only lead to killing productivity. A person who knows when and how to say no, takes a strategic position in reaching their final goals.
3. Rethink your daily mantra
Busy people would want to share with the world how busy they are, as if they merit some kind of recognition for keeping themselves busy. Nonetheless, this attitude can easily be disguised with productivity and success.
4. Limit your online presence
Online platforms, emails, social media and shopping apps, to name a few, are real distractors to productivity. As much as they give instant gratification in gaining accomplishments, they distract us from the most important tasks to accomplish. Setting time limits to daily simple tasks, will provide space to more important priorities.
5. Keep up with deadlines
Over-committing ourselves to plans which will be challenging to finish on time, can makes us feel entrapped and overwhelmed. Resentment brought about missed deadlines and procrastination may reinforce the idea that we are not capable of accomplishing anything.
6. Make priorities
Listing our top priorities will help us reach the end goal in a shorter time. Re-evaluating these priorities from time to time can provide a clearer picture on how our daily tasks can enable these priorities.
7. Stop apologizing
Finding ourselves in a spiral loop of apologies for missed deadlines and unfinished tasks may result in lasting negative effects. This lack of accomplishment will take toll not only on our health but even in personal relationships.
8. Stop worrying about other people’s opinions
Busy people often fear appearing unsuccessful in the eyes of others. This perception may lead to feelings of insecurity and anxiety. Breaking away from this cycle of busyness will enhance more healthy work environments and fruitful relationships.
Marlene is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist with Willingness. She has experience working in the mental health field, particularly with issues of anxiety, depression, loss, challenging relationships and major life transitions.
Cambridge Dictionary. (2021). Definition of busyness. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/busyness
Kreider, T. (2013). We learn nothing: essays. Simon and Schuster.
Meadows, M. (2015). How to Relax: Stop Being Busy, Take a Break and Get Better Results While Doing Less. Meadows Publishing.