How Busy Are You?
How are you? How have you been? How are things? On a daily basis we tend to ask these questions or a slight variation of them to almost everyone we speak too. And 9 times out of 10 the answer we get is “Busy” or “Good. But busy.” Or exhausted, hectic, manic, crazy….you get the idea. Most people seem to be proud of how busy they are. In this modern day of being constantly connected, with the World Wide Web tucked in our back pockets and emails, reminder, texts and calls constantly buzzing into our awareness, we are spending more time being “on” with work and less time on recreational activities, family time and good old fashioned ‘switching off’. And now it’s not just adults who feel busy, but our children as well with school, sports, camps, tutoring, extracurricular activities and play-dates.
So what is all of this busy doing for us? It’s creating a generation people who are more anxious, more wound up and more wired than ever before. Statistics coming out of the US show that 1 in 9 people will suffer from an anxiety disorder in their lifetimes and these often begin to develop in late childhood or adolescence1. This same article states that only one third of people will be treated for these disorders, though 90% of them are treatable. It is well known that anxiety disorders increase the likelihood of risk taking behavior and making life choices with negative ramifications such as having a high alcohol intake, smoking and substance abuse. Overall, anxiety has a negative effect on our well-being.
So when we know for the most part that being busy actually doesn’t make us feel good why do we do it? We do we commit ourselves and our children to a constant list of obligations and appointments? A growing number of scholars2 suggest we do this because it makes us feel important on some level. That we feel we are achieving success in our lives if we are busy and in demand.
As time goes on though I’m starting to notice a trend. And it’s become clearer this winter as many of our practice members go on their winter holidays. So many of our Boost family have talked to us in the lead up to their holidays of how excited they are to go overseas and turn off their phones. To hand over their workloads to colleagues and have some time with their families with no texts or emails or *gasp* Facebook updates. In fact I would go so far as to say that most of you have sounded equally as excited about disconnecting from the rush as you have about the actual location you are travelling too. I would also extrapolate from our conversations that most of us are developing a greater awareness of helping our children to avoid the busy path we have found ourselves on. Limits on screen time, family only days or evenings, dialing down extracurricular activities. I think that instinctively we know that “busy” doesn’t equate to good, healthy or happy.
So how do we go about breaking the busy curse? The answer is quite simple, though daunting to think about. We just have to unplug. Likely we won’t unplug every day or all day. But chose a time in the day that you will turn your phone off. Perhaps at 9pm all devices get turned off and put away to charge. Or maybe you have a device free day each weekend. Get outside. Read a book. Meditate. Do what it is that makes you feel calm. And prioritize that feeling and activity. Because really, will the world end if you don’t reply to that work email until the next morning? Or maybe, just maybe, will the down time actually increase your focus and creativity at work?
This is the first post in a series on work life balance and how to maximise your effectiveness in both work and down time. Our next blog will be about something called a Default Diary, which will give you some more tips on focusing and using your time toy our greatest advantage.