One of the many ways we measure worth in our society is by busyness. Sharing how busy our lives are with each other boosts the feeling that we are important, in demand, and moving quickly towards success.
But does our ability to fill up hours in a day really mean that we are spending our time effectively? Probably not.
I once had a friend that was always rushing off to the next meeting or appointment, complaining in between that her schedule was jam packed and she was utterly exhausted from it all.
The funny thing was, the majority of the “busyness” she complained about was the result of little extras she crammed in, none of which were improving her position in her career or making her personal life any better. It was simply a way of skirting boredom and feeling as if her life was “full.”
But having a “full” life and having a fulfilling life are two different things. Fulfillment comes only from spending time deliberately, not from cramming useless activities and chores into every minute of every hour of every day.
In fact, we have the opportunity to grow just as much from silence and stillness as we do from the hustle and bustle we create for ourselves.
Here are just a few of the pitfalls of being effectively busy instead of simply effective.
Pitfall #1: Busyness allows little time for reflection
When I worked as a freelance writer with little “normal” structure to my day, I began to notice that I was spending a great deal of time going through the motions of being productive, taking on tasks that were not personally or financially fulfilling. I really just wanted to be able to say that I worked a full day.
Working this way kept me from taking the time to sit and think about which direction I really wanted to take my career in and what path would give me more fulfillment than the one I was currently on. Finding ways to be busy was really just a waste of time.
If you feel as if you’re simply spinning your wheels, stop, focus, and redirect your attention. Even if it means clearing your overflowing calendar for one day.
Pitfall #2: Busyness offers a false sense of accomplishment
If you have planned a day filled with useless errands for yourself, you might still feel a sense of accomplishment when you’ve checked all of them off your “to-do list.” I know I was great at patting myself on the back for making frequent trips to the bank and grocery store, both of which could be completed in 1-2 hours once a week or even twice a month.
The truth is, these tasks might just be a way to avoid tackling the much harder tasks, the ones that will give you a deeper sense of pride and accomplishment. Go for those instead, chances are, you won’t notice if all those “extras” get done anyway.
Pitfall #3: Busyness is an easy excuse for not doing what should be done
Yes, sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to attend every event or finish every task. But it’s an easy fall-back excuse to make, one that we are far too quick to pull out instead of doing what needs to be done.
Busyness keeps us from confronting issues in our personal and business relationships, exploring new career options and broadening our knowledge base. It keeps us stuck right where we are, experiencing the same things over and over again.
If you find yourself constantly citing busyness as a reason for not getting things done, it’s time to figure out what you’re avoiding.
Pitfall #4: Busyness is an energy zapper, usually in the most ineffective way
Constantly being on the move is exhausting, and unfortunately, our bodies don’t know how to keep a store of energy for things that are really important. If you end everyday completely spent from completing a long list of “time fillers,” chances are you’ll be burnt out before accomplishing anything really worthwhile.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint, so take some time to really enjoy the scenery.
Pitfall #5: Busyness makes creativity virtually impossible
Often, kids are the most creative when they have time to let their minds wander and they are given free reign to entertain their imaginations. Cramming their day with structured activity can actually hinder their ability to tap in to their creativity.
Adults are the same way.
Allow things to unfold organically, and don’t fill every minute of every day. This will bring forth your natural ability to generate ideas and think outside the box — both of which can bring your business or career to the next level.
Busyness isn’t a prerequisite to success and your ability to abandon the need to fill up every minute of every day can greatly increase your chance of living a fulfilling live, both personally and professionally. Now are you ready to stop being so busy?