I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve really struggled with the busy trap and I’m still not completely out of the woods.. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have told you that I was the world reigning champion of getting everything done – fast. It was almost like a badge of honor.
It took me a long time to make the shift from being a busyness addict to learning that by doing less, I could actually achieve more and more importantly, be more. I know a lot of people are still struggling with busyness. Here’s how you know that you’re stuck in the busy trap (and how you can break out!):
You do a lot, but you don’t accomplish as much as you do.
This sounds like a small difference, but it’s crucial. Most people who are busy are really productive (by which I mean they produce a lot of work or even finish a lot of small tasks), but they’re not very effective — they don’t actually make much progress on their goals.
The way to get past this is actually by doing less. Don’t dilute your energy trying to do everything; instead, do less and get more. Just like I say in my book, figure out what the ONE thing is that will have the biggest effect on your progress, then focus your energy on that.
You never spend as much time as you’d like with your close friends or family.
One of the worst parts about being busy is that you tend to spend most of your time surrounded by people, but not the ones who are really important to you.
The best way to get around this is to schedule in time with the people you care about just like it was an important business appointment — get it on your schedule early, and make it non-negotiable.
You use your busyness as a status symbol.
OK, so you may complain about being busy all the time, but secretly, it makes you feel a little bit better about yourself, because you feel like being busy means that you’re doing well, or that you’re ‘good enough’ to have so much on your plate.
Don’t buy it — you need to recognise stress for what it is: a huge drain on your mind, productivity, and health. So the next time you find yourself patting yourself on the back for being busy, take a second for a reality check and remind yourself of what’s really important in your life.
You do your work based on time.
Do you always work a certain amount of hours in a day? If so, you’re probably getting stuck in the busy trap without even realising it. Work expands to fill the amount of time available for it, so if you think your work is going to take you 8 hours a day, then guess what? It will!
So ditch this outdated mentality about work, and instead of focusing on time, focus on the results you want, then work less, but more intensely.
You’ve forgotten why you started working so hard to begin with.
It’s so easy to let busyness become a habit, especially if it’s the way you’ve functioned for years or it’s the way your friends live and work. But I firmly believe that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed TODAY, not some day “after the next promotion”, “after the kids grow up”, or “after retirement”.
If you’ve been living like this for so long that you can’t even remember what slowing down feels like, then I really urge you to take some time out and figure out what you really want. You don’t have to run yourself into the ground to build a life you love — I’m living proof of that.