09/19/2018 Molly Moseley

The epidemic of being busy

You wake before sunrise to grab some coffee and check email. Before you get half a mug down, the kids are up and it’s time to start the tedious morning routine to get out the door on time.

Breakfast? Check.
Dressed and teeth brushed? Check.
Backpacks ready and permission slips signed? Check.
Work emails out and morning meeting scheduled? Check.

You’ve already accomplished two dozen different things and your day just started. You have a big deadline at work, the kids have soccer and band after school, and if you’re lucky you’ll squeeze in a workout. The reality is, you don’t just have one to-do list, you have several for work, kids, the house and more. Your to-do lists even have to-do lists!

American adults are spread so thin they can’t give 100 percent to any one thing. When you’re at work, you’re thinking about the kids. When you’re at home, you’re thinking about work. When you’re exercising, you’re thinking about the grocery list. There are 1,440 minutes in a day and it never seems we get nearly as much done as we should.

Health impacts of being too busy

The problem is being busy doesn’t equate to being productive. Worse, it doesn’t translate to being happy or healthy, either. In fact, an article from Johns Hopkins Health Review titled “The cult of busy” discusses the negative health impact of extreme busyness. From insomnia and anxiety to depression and high blood pressure, being too busy can be detrimental to your health. What’s more, it can also stress important relationships, such as the one between you and your boss, your spouse, and your children.

Being overly busy is a common problem and feeling behind all the time feels terrible. We live in a culture that makes us think it’s normal to feel that way, and furthermore, if you don’t you’re not doing enough. It’s time to change our perspective. Some simple ways to reclaim your schedule, increase your happiness and feel like you’re actually getting something done include:

Give yourself a break: You schedule everything else in your day, why not schedule intentional breaks, too? Make time to relax and enjoy what matters to you most.

Celebrate the wins: Instead of focusing on what you didn’t accomplish, focus on what you did. If you take the time to recognize today’s successes, you’ll feel better about yourself.

Be realistic: It’s easy to set the bar high in hopes you’ll achieve it, even if you know it’s a stretch. Instead, approach tasks with an optimistic yet realistic mindset.

Communicate: Learn how to say what you mean and mean what you say. Clear communication is essential for maintaining a balance.

Say no: For many people it’s difficult to say no, but in order to reclaim your schedule, you’ll need to selectively say no when asked or invited to do things.

Prioritize: What is critical to get done today and what can wait? Learn to prioritize and when possible, outsource. Ask for help when needed and be creative about finding a means to an end.

Living life at a breathless pace doesn’t mean you’re living life well. It’s OK to make time for you, have an open evening, and yes, take a few deep breaths. Your physical and mental well-being will skyrocket and you might be surprised that by cutting back you actually get more done than you ever did when every minute of the day was accounted for.

How do you combat being the epidemic of being busy?