The Cult of Busyness – why do we always need to be doing something?

It feels like every conversation starts with people saying how busy they are. People seem to wear their ‘busyness’ as a badge of honour. Having too much to do in the time available is now the norm.  Often in the same breath that people tell you how busy they are, they will also allude to the fact that it all feels a bit overwhelming.

How did we get to a place where busyness is prized above all else and anyone with spare time in their hand will be looked down on? Everyone even seems to schedule downtime. Obviously we all have lots to do and many are non-negotiable, but about this need to fill every moment of the day and then boast about it? 

We have been suffering from the cult of Busyness ourselves and so we asked Sophie Morris, a seasoned wellbeing & Lifestyle Coach what we can do to break the cycle of busyness.

Trade your busy life with a full one.

Whilst Sophie totally advocates filling your time with things that make you feel energised and fulfilled, she agrees that constant busyness is NOT a good thing. Things haven’t always been this way. Life used to be about working hard to reach the ultimate goal of being able to do nothing. So what has changed? 

“We are setting ourselves a tyranny of expectations ” Sophie explains ” no one just has a job these days, most people have a side hustle or are training for a new career, and don’t get me started on the amount of activities our children participate in! Hobbies now must be productive rather than merely something you love.”

Sophie’s concern with constant busyness is that often relationships and personal growth get pushed to one side, to the detriment of all. Chronic stress causes may problems, from lack of sleep to raised blood pressure and anxiety. She thinks that many people surround themselves with endless tasks and to do lists to avoid having to think about the bigger questions about what they really want from life. “So, what happens when the noise all stops? Surely there has to be a middle way between bored and stretched to the point of breaking. What are we scared of if we aren’t busy?”

When you think about it, it all starts to make sense. Sophie explains the ‘busyness loop’. “The irony is that many people with too much to do become overwhelmed, which can leads procrastination as they literally can’t work out where to start. So you’re so busy you end up doing nothing, which means you have more to do, which creates more overwhelming feelings, which makes it even harder for you to know where to start and you find yourself unable to do anything – and on and on…”

It has to stop, for all our and our families’ sakes. Here are Sophie’s suggestions for where to start:

STOP and THINK

Imagine that you had done everything and you literally have nothing to do. How does that make you feel? If your answer is liberated, congratulations. If your answer is a slight sense of terror or panic, ask yourself why and try to understand what it is that unsettles you about having nothing to do. Try to become more aware of what motivates you and what makes you happy.

STOP and RE-EVALUATE

Identifying your core values and priorities is also a useful exercise and can help you put things into perspective. Remember that your own values are just that, your own. Being busy with things that motivate you and you are passionate about a positive goal. Keeping up with the Joneses is not.

STOP and SAY NO

Learning to say no is essential to self-care at it’s simplest and self-preservation at other times. 

STOP WORRYING

Realise what you can and can’t control. Don’t waste time worrying about what isn’t within your control, concentrate instead on what is in your power to change and use your energy for good.

BREAK IT DOWN

Break down what you have to do into small chunks, which will make it feel more manageable. See our Laundry List as well we our piece on How to Make Decisions.

CHOOSE CAREFULLY AND DO WHAT MAKES YOUR HEART SING

Do things that make your heart sing. Join a choir, read a book, go for a walk, see friends, learn to paint – and remember it’s not a competition, it’s for your enjoyment and mental health. You, your body and those around you will thank you for it.

Finally, Stop guilt in its tracks. Don’t feel guilty about having time to do nothing. Life is short. Enjoy it! 

 

Sophie is an experienced Resilience Coach who helps her clients cope better with whatever life throws at them. Sessions can take place in person, via Skype or over the phone. Contact Sophie on sophie@essentialfocuscoaching.com or find out more at www.essentialfocuscoaching.com