Break the Cycle of Excessive Busyness

Picture of man with six arms holding phone, notebooks, calculator

Trying to build Rome in one day can leave you overwhelmed. Maybe you’re bragging about how busy you are because it secretly makes you feel important and successful. Maybe you’re under financial and family pressures that outstrip your resources.

Either way, there’s an epidemic of excessive busyness among modern adults that leaves us feeling rushed, discontent, and short on time. Try these major and minor solutions for managing your time and becoming more productive.

Major Antidotes to Excessive Busyness

  1. Turn off your phone. Being connected all day long obviously plays a big role in feeling overwhelmed. Switch off your devices at least two hours before you go to bed. Try spending a day away from social media.
  2. Live mindfully. Engage fully with whatever you’re doing. Focus on one task at a time. You’ll reduce stress and enhance the quality of your work.
  3. Choose your priorities. Think about your purpose and devote your time to the activities that matter to you. Using your time wisely makes your life more meaningful.
  4. Establish routines. Do you spend as much time coordinating your work as actually performing it? A systematic approach turns frequent chores into automatic habits. Do your grocery shopping on Tuesdays and Fridays. Check your email and return phone calls before lunch and dinner.
  5. Collaborate with others. We can accomplish more as a team. Focus on your strengths and try to outsource or eliminate the remaining tasks.
  6. Sleep more. Resist the temptation to sacrifice sleep in order to get more done. Adequate rest makes you more effective. If you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open, go to bed an hour earlier than usual.
  7. Edit less. Let go of the past. Proof an email once and send it. If your kids eat and wear clean clothes to school each day, you may not need to analyze your housekeeping any further.
  8. Count up your free time. Discovering more free time is like finding money in the pocket of a jacket that’s been hanging in your closet for months. Count the hours you have outside of work, commuting, and sleeping. Decide how to use them before external demands swallow them up.

Tiny Antidotes to Excessive Busyness

  1. Brew real coffee. The coffee break is being replaced by instant powder packets you pour into boiling water. Sit down and share a real cup of coffee with a friend.
  2. Leave the office first. If you’re spending more time with the nighttime cleaning crew than with your family, see what it’s like to be the first one out the door. Let your coworkers know in advance if it will smooth your departure.
  3. Check the fire extinguisher. Have you picked up some of the colorful expressions for being busy, like you’re slammed or you’re putting out fires? Moderating your language is the first step to dialing down the tension.
  4. Quit competing. Sometimes it sounds like we’re trying to top each other when it comes to having a full plate. If someone starts talking about all the fires they need to put out, try sympathizing and changing the subject to something more constructive.
  5. Be still. Action bias is an innate force that makes us want to do something even if it’s counterproductive. Give yourself permission to stop and ponder your options.

If you’re feeling swamped, it’s time to create more balance in your life. Along with challenges and adventure, make room for mundane tasks and quiet reflection. You’ll soon find that less activity can be more fulfilling.

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