Be busy working for your dreams but not lose your dreams to busyness

More often than not, being busy is a boast disguised as a complaint. Over-scheduling ourselves makes us feel important and needed, and it’s precisely this craving for affirmation that makes being busy so addictive.

Busyness makes us feel good because it serves as a kind of fulfilment; a way of protecting ourselves from leading an empty life because we believe that we can’t possibly be living a meaningless life if we are booked back-to-back-to-back. While a packed schedule forces many to the brinks of exhaustion, moments of nothingness are often accompanied with dreadful surges of guilt. Guilt of not working hard enough, guilt of not working the clock, guilt of not living life to its fullest. Don’t we all convince ourselves that we can always live with a little bit of exhaustion than a lifetime of regret?

Even holidays has grown to become a busy affair. Holidays are packed with activities right from dawn to dusk, loading in as much sightseeing and adventures as possible. By the time we get back to the hotel, we feel more tired than a normal work night. Sometimes, we even wish for a break after returning from our holiday.

“Being busy is a disease of our time,” argues Pedram Shojai, author of The Urban Monk.

Everyone seems to believe that we can do better by being busy and that busyness is a good problem to have. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram further magnify this ideal image of self-worth by subtly encouraging competition and comparisons. We are constantly busy trying to keep up with the pace of our peers, be it socially or materialistically. Little did we know that our pursuit of these so-called happiness becomes the source of our unhappiness.

If being busy is causing you to be unhappy, restless, tired or even exhausted, below are five questions we can think about whenever we feel like we are drowning in the flood of busyness.

Are we aimlessly busy?

We allow busyness to become an unconscious state of being and it’s so common it has become habitual. Staying late or spending more time in the office doesn’t make us hardworking. Busy does not equate to productivity. Always question ourselves if what we are doing actually value-adds, don’t just waste time looking busy.

Is “Sorry, I’m busy” a reflexive rebuttal?

Instead of internalising if we are truly busy, we just go the easy way out and blurt out the words even before knowing if we actually are. Pause, and take time to think. Because when we tell someone “Sorry, I’m busy.” we are actually saying “Sorry, you are not as important.” Be more mindful before we speak and determine if the description “busy” actually holds any weight.

Do we realize that busyness is a choice?

No one can enforce a busy lifestyle onto us unless we allow them to. We manage our own time, we determine our own schedules and we make our own decisions. If we want a less busy life, take it into our own hands and make a change.

As Jim Rohn put it,

A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.

Most of the time, we busy ourselves with things that don’t matter. Learn to prioritize what’s important then bravely say no to unimportant commitments. Never ever lose our priorities. Schedule our time around them and make time work more efficiently. Always remember that it’s not how much time we put into something but how little time we spend on things that don’t matter.

What can busyness give?

Work is a never-ending process, it can never be completed. Always remember that if work ends, so does the company. But the desire for competitive busyness has defined success for many of us. “Oh, you’re so busy, you must be really good at what you do.” True, hearing that gives us instant gratification but it’s only temporal. It’s time we redefine success. Being busy does not equate to being driven, neither does it guarantee success.

Take a look at Charlie Rose’s interview with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, you will know that Warren Buffett is, in fact, not busy at all. He only has 3–4 appointments in a month and he keeps it that way. Does that make him any less successful?

What happens if we become less busy?

Sometimes, we desperately wish for an additional pair of hands, or maybe ten. We have this burning need to tackle everything ourselves and do everything all at once. But we simply can’t. It’s better to put 100% of us into one thing than 20% of us into five things. Acknowledge the fact that we do not have to have our hands in everything and that the world will still revolve if someone else does the job. Learn to trust people, learn to ask for help, learn to delegate tasks. Teamwork makes dreams work.

Let’s stop the glorification of being busy and start to take care of ourselves. Recognize the importance of rest. Exercise, meditate, read, listen to music, spend time with family and friends, sleep. Dedicate at least one day a week to be plan-less and do whatever that comes to mind on that day itself. These are neither selfishness nor are they luxuries, they are what we need for recalibration. Sufficient rest keeps us alert and productive during the hours we are awake. Take care of our body and it will take care of our dreams.

First published at greenninja.co