We're already a month and a half into 2020, and I can't believe how fast things are moving. I'm currently working on getting a new project up and running with a new partner, and it's a lot of work. It feels like I never get enough rest. To create something from nothing requires a lot of energy, but that's part of the price I have to pay to write my own next chapter.
I know that I am not alone in struggling to balance a jam-packed schedule. Keeping up with our responsibilities can be seriously overwhelming. And now that so many of us have our work emails on our phones, there is no longer a clear boundary between where work ends and our personal lives begin. It pressures us to do more because we're constantly available and able to be reached. That's why this week, I thought I'd write about "busy-ness."
We are all so busy. It's one of the ways we measure our worth as a society. Being busy implies that we are valued, needed, and in demand. People use it as an excuse for pretty much anything — we’re too busy to date, too busy to sleep, too busy to see our friends. I know I use it. I'm too busy. I'm way too busy to keep up with my own life at times. And with another early morning ahead of me tomorrow, I can't help but ask: is busy better?
On one hand, busyness can increase our motivation and make us more efficient. It forces us to create a schedule, stay organized, and manage our time to accommodate all the things we need to get done. By challenging us to do more and to work faster, being busy helps us build the discipline we need to take control of our habits and choices.
Busyness can also improve our mood. Study after study shows that people who keep busy are more likely to be happy than those who don’t. With each task we cross off our to-do list, we naturally feel a sense of accomplishment that can boost our self-esteem. Taking charge of our lives makes us feel like we're in control -- and anything that increases our perception of control can reduce our stress levels.
However, there's a fine line between having a lot to do and being frantic and overwhelmed. Being too busy detracts from our performance as workers and as people. When we’re so busy that we don’t have time to take care of ourselves, we become anxious, moody, and disconnected. We start reacting to stressful situations instead of responding to them, and as a result, we're more likely to make mistakes. Overworking and overstraining ourselves makes us less present and less focused, which brings me to my next point:
Being busy and being productive are not always the same thing. Being so busy that we feel uncomfortable signals that we're either doing too much, or we aren’t doing the things we’re doing as well as we could be. To be productive is to be selective with our time and energy (instead of feeling insecure about doing nothing). Productive work is focused and driven by intention — it’s about quality over quantity. Identifying what needs to be done versus what should be done allows us to take the time to do what needs to be done well. Why work harder when we can work smarter?
Ultimately, I don't think there's anything wrong with being busy -- in fact, there are a lot of benefits to it. At the same time, being too busy and risking burn out is unsustainable and unnecessary. I think the key is to prioritize ourselves the same way we prioritize our to-do lists. Whether that means taking a few days off when we need to, ignoring that work email sent at 10pm, or simply being more methodical with our time, it's important to find a balance that feels comfortable to us. When we recognize that our time has value, we focus our energy more effectively and stop trying so hard to please other people. We all need to fulfill our responsibilities and obligations, but we also need to take care of ourselves.
I will leave you with this.
If you are busy each day working towards something you love which could be a dream of your own, or because working and providing a good life for your family makes your heart sing, this is good"busy-ness". It is satisfying. If you are busy and feeling like you are heading into an abyss of dissatisfaction, or constantly feel run down and depressed about your life, then it may be time to take inventory. Remember, anything is changeable, adjustable, and evolvable. You are not stuck anywhere. The first step is to look at your life, and remember that you were put here for purpose. If you feel lost, it's often because you haven't found your purpose, or you are not following it. Maybe take a moment today and write down some of the things you love to do whether it's sing, write, see movies, go to museums, be with children, care for those in need, make clothing, or cook healthy meals for your loved ones, and incorporate more of those things into your life. Because when you are busy doing what you love, life will feel better.
Take care of yourselves...
and thank you for taking time to read my blog.