Let me ask you a question…are you the type of person who writes tasks and chores down after you’ve already done them just so that you can cross them off your list? If you do then you may be addicted to busyness.
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I just finished a great book on time management called The 5 Choices. I’ve always considered myself to be pretty effective at time management and I enjoy the feeling of getting things done. Crossing things off my To Do list was a concrete sign that I was making progress and handling the things that life was throwing at me.
However, I also realized while reading this book that I had become addicted to busyness.
While productivity is a good thing, there is such a thing as being addicted simply to the act of being busy. In fact, recently I came across this quote…
Busyness is an epidemic. Effectiveness is the cure.
With most behaviors, the issue is where the behavior falls on a continuum. A little here and there might not be a big issue, but if you’re finding these descriptions hit a little too close to home then maybe there is something there to think about.
There certainly has been for me.
If you’d rather watch than read here’s the video I did on this topic.
Questions To Ask To Determine If You’re Addicted To Busyness
1. Do you find it hard to just sit and relax?
Guilty as charged. Hubby has complained for years that I don’t know how to relax. However, I’m willing to work on this one.
2. Do you write things down that you’ve already done just so you can cross them off your To Do list?
Well, duh! In fact, I thought everyone did this. So I enjoy that little thrill of knowing I’ve got one more check mark on the daily list…is that such a bad thing?
3. Do you feel uncomfortable if your days and hours aren’t planned out?
Now there’s nothing wrong with a good plan – in fact, I happen to strongly advocate for planning out your days. The issue is where we fall on the spectrum. While it’s good to have a plan, it’s when we have trouble dealing with changes to that plan that we’ve got a problem.
4. Would you be lost without your planner or calendar?
We’ve had a running joke at our house for years about my
compulsive effective use of a planner. I am a firm believer in using a daily planner to help you get things done, keep track of projects and appointments, and manage that long To Do list. But perhaps my desire to schedule bathroom breaks is a tad obsessive.
5. Do you tend to multi-task when it’s time to relax?
Now this is definitely one I’ve started working on. But didn’t many of us grow up watching our mothers and grandmothers reach for something to do when everyone sat down in the evenings?
My grandmother always had some hand sewing to do and my mother used to reach for her knitting bag. So I guess the real question becomes whether these activities were ultimately relaxing for them and helped them wind down.
6. Do family or friends ever complain that even when you’re with them that you seem unfocused or inattentive?
I think this one is important. Relationships are important…in fact, in my opinion they’re what make life worth living in the first place. But if you’re so focused on being busy and productive that you can’t give your full attention to people then it’s time to take a hard look at our priorities.
People are always more important than items on a To Do list.
7. Do you find it hard to turn your brain off…even when it’s time to relax or go to sleep?
I doubt I’m the only one who struggles with this. However, I’m finding that taking a little down-time before actually trying to go to sleep helps. I’ve learned that it’s virtually impossible – for me, at least – to try to go to sleep without some period of relaxation between the busyness of the day and sleep mode.
8. Do you spend a lot of time stressed out because you have so much to do?
There’s no doubt that most of us have more to do than hours in which to get those things done. But a good hard look at the list might reveal that we’ve added things to it that no one else is really expecting us to get done in the first place. This goes back to the question of whether or not we’re actually the cause of our own frenzy.
In many cases, we are.
9. Do you frequently complain about not having enough time to get everything done?
Here’s where we need to examine whether or not we truly don’t have enough time to get the important things done, or whether we’re simply engaging in the socially acceptable ritual of complaining about how busy we are.
If we truly don’t have time for the important things then it’s time to enlist help, examine the demands being placed on us, and dump some items as we can. Like it or not, there are only 24 hours in a day and not every single one of them can – or should – be filled with things to do.
10. Do you judge whether or not you’ve had a good day by how much you got done?
I’ve been so guilty of this!
Looking back I think it’s because I’ve based my own opinion of my self-worth based on my productivity. The problem with this is that our worth as human beings should never be tied to some outside criteria.
11. Do you get irritable or annoyed when someone tries to change you plan?
This is another indicator that I think falls on a spectrum. A little annoyance is just that…annoying…and ultimately not that big of a deal. But if we go major league berserk over a change in our plans then that’s a definite sign.
12. Do you take pride in your ability to get it all done?
I’ll admit guilty as charged on this one as well.
And while I think it’s okay to be proud of your abilities, I also think that tying our self-worth up in this ability sets us up for disappointment when we have those times that we’re not able to get it all done.
13. Do you tell others – or yourself – that you work well under pressure?
I think some people actually do work well under pressure. But I always wonder how much better their work might be if they weren’t doing it all at the last minute.
14. Do you get a secret thrill out of meeting impossible deadlines?
I think the bigger question is whether you purposely cut your working time short so that the deadlines become almost impossible to meet in the first place.
Obviously, it’s important to keep all of these indicators in perspective.
Productivity is a good thing. It’s what keeps the trains running on time.
But as with all things, it’s easy for things to get out of balance if we’re not careful. The key is to strike a happy medium between getting the important things done while making time to enjoy life and time with others.
And don’t forget to put yourself on the list as well. You won’t be productive if you burn out.
I recently ran across this post on becoming un-busy and why it’s important. It spoke to me and was a great reminder of what I’ve always said…that there’s no trophy at the end for who won the busyness prize.
Do you see yourself in any of these signs?
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More before you go:
Have you ever wondered why you’re so stressed out? Perhaps it’s because of all the stuff rattling around in your head. Here’s how to Conquer Internal Stress By Eliminating Mental Junk.