I don’t know about you, but I often find myself feeling very busy, both in my personal life and my professional life. As Americans, we are getting busier and busier by the day, and the increasing use of technology doesn’t help because we are constantly available and “on.” But even before all of this new technology, many of us learned to be busy at a very young age. When I was growing up, I somehow picked up the message that “idle hands were the devil’s workshop,” or that if I wasn’t busy and productive at every moment, that meant I was lazy. Even today, I sometimes find myself stressed and overwhelmed, all in the service of keeping busy.
So, how about you? Are you too busy? What is your experience of being too busy in your life? At a fundamental level, we get to ask ourselves: (1) What is the payoff for being so busy – meaning why do I keep doing it even though I am stressed and exhausted?; and (2) What is the cost?
Numbing and Escaping: We often use our busyness to numb our emotions and escape unpleasant conversations.
Self Worth: When we struggle with a belief that we are deeply unworthy or not loveable for who are, we sometimes try to earn love through the things we do.
Bad Mood: When I am constantly busy, I live in a mood of anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. Even the smallest inconvenience or setback seems like a huge obstacle, and I find myself crabby and irritable. Busyness robs me of being present in the moment, and peace is only available in the present.
Intimacy: Being busy all of the time means we don’t have time to truly connect with other people, and this robs us of the intimacy and connection that we want.
Relationships: We often neglect our relationships because we are too busy. We miss dinner with our spouse or weekend outings with our kids because we have to work. We go out to lunch with friends but are checking our phones at the table. As our relationships suffer, we feel more and more isolated in our busyness.
Health: We often neglect our own bodies when we are too busy. We sleep too little, eat too much, and burn the candle at both ends. Do you find yourself feeling exhausted often?
Self Care: Being so busy means we often don’t take care of ourselves, both physically and emotionally. When was the last time you focused on the domain of “spirituality” in your life – how you can feel connected to the world or something greater than yourself? When was the last time you focused on the domain of “play” and took some time to do something you really enjoy?
Ask yourself: Am I too busy in my life? If so, what are the payoffs, and what are the costs?
Could you take one step today toward creating a less busy life? Perhaps you could take a moment to look your spouse or kids in the eye and share a hug and really connect. Perhaps you could call that friend you’ve been meaning to reach out to and have a conversation, and be fully present without checking your texts or email. Perhaps being less busy will bring more peace and joy to your day.