“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Socrates
Something very interesting happened to me after I left my job right at the beginning of this blog. I got busy. Not just filling my time busy but more like I gave myself more than I could possibly do in a day and then rushed to fit it all in (which I of course couldn’t) I felt like I was back at work with my overbearing boss piling on way too much work for someone on a 35 hour contract and sitting back waiting for me to fail.
I was constantly complaining about how busy I was without releasing I was MAKING MYSELF that busy. It only really came to light during my six days away.
I began asking myself if i’m my own boss why I am doing this to myself, putting myself through an endless treadmill of work only to meet guilty and failure at the end. Was the stuff I was filling my day with really that important? was the problem that it wasn’t or that it was?
What was I busy doing? good question. I don’t think it was really anything that needed doing but I became so obsessed with the ticking of the clock I felt paralyzed.
I discovered I was caught in what I like to call “The busyness cycle”
The Busyness Cycle
What is the The Busyness Cycle?
Its the need to fill your time with tasks (both important and unimportant) to the point of total time annihilation. You will find it hard to slow down and take a rest. I don’t think I even know how to relax anymore!
Who has it?
The majority of people scarily. As a society we seem to wear busyness like an olympic gold medal around our necks. We are happy to thrust it in everyone we meets face. If we are really busy then it must mean we are winning the imaginary race of being more successful than everyone around us, right? Unfortunately busyness is associated with success and fulfillment in our modern day society so something that can be used positivity is now full of negative connotations.
Here are some rather haunting truths about The Busyness Cycle:
Busyness is shockingly rather addictive.
Addicts are advised and assisted to move away from their addictions and remove it from their lives completely. Its rather different for those of us addicted to being busy. We are celebrated and encouraged to continue.
Modern technology makes you more busy.
Ever “quickly” checked facebook or twitter and before you knew it 30 mins had passed? (according to research b y psychologist Aoife McLoughlin from James Cook University’s Singapore campus) In my previous working life I have missed a bus by standing at the bus stop and watching it go past as I was just “quickly” checking my phone. Gadgets unfortunately speed up our perception of time that warp everything we do after.
All the extra leisure opportunities make it worse.
Watched the newest series on Netflicks? Seem that new movie that’s out? visited that new restaurant? read those books you wanted too? All these extra options we now have mean we actually feel like we have less time to fit everything in. This leads into the paradox of choice.
Why do people end up wanting to feel so busy
- Busyness can be used as a “numbing behavior” meaning if we are busy doing A then B wont catch us.
- Downtime provides more of a chance to really take stock of our life. It can be really scary and busyness gives the opportunity to “never get time” to do this.
- Having free time also provides the opportunity to look inward at ourselves such as examining any bad habits, failing relationships ect…
- It provides the perfect excuse for everything: Arguing with your partner, not doing something you didn’t want to do anyway, not being able to attend that family reunion you hated going to anyway.
- It makes us feel like we are moving towards achieving something, even if it isn’t actually doing that. More on that below!
So is being busy bad?
Yes and No. Yes if your filling your day with back to back to do’s that aren’t really that important. No if your using your time to get you closer towards achieving your goals. I was cleaning the house every day of the week. obsessively cleaning, doing odd jobs such as sorting through my emails, de-cluttering cupboards, ordering photos on the computer, writing endless to do lists. Not one of those things is getting me closer to paying the mortgage off. If I spent several hours a day listing items on Ebay to sell then that would be a more positive use of my time. Its important not to fill every minute of everyday with trying to achieve your goals. If I listed E bay items for 9 hours a day then I would be caught again in The Busyness Cycle.
Busyness can mean your being productive and getting things done, but it important to always have some down time. Being chronically busy can invoke the stress hormone which as we all know, isn’t great for your health.
How to leave The Busyness Cycle
For me, I wrote down everything I was “busy” doing and wrote next to it why I did it and anything else that was usual, for example:
Obviously that not everything I was doing but you get the idea, I highlighted the ones that are moving me closer to my main goals. By focusing on what is actually fulfilling and worthwhile then you can break The Busyness Cycle”
It also make me question why I wasn’t doing the things that get me closer to my goal. Ebay for example, can make quite a bit of money but since I’ve put it off for an extremely long time, the items to sell fill a whole room which is rather daunting. My reflection time from not being so busy made me think about breaking it up so its not one big massive task. I’m thinking of starting to list just 7 items a week till I get it under control.
Do you have to be busy all the time?