How many times have you used the excuse ‘I’m too busy now’ to turn down offers to help a friend in need or to just take time off to enjoy yourself? If you are like me, probably a lot. Yet, there is something wrong if you are so busy that living life to the fullest gets shoved down the agenda. Here are 10 lies that people keep telling themselves to justify their super busy schedules.
1. I must sleep less to get more done
It’s amazing how many people believe this. People using apps such as Fitbit found that if you cut down on sleep and get disturbed rest, your production level goes down. You may be gaining more time but you are not being more productive. These apps are useful because they can give you loads of stats on your smartphone about your fitness, productivity, and the quality of your sleep.
2. I must work longer hours to achieve more
If you increase your working hours, you actually become less efficient! The UN is also concerned about this. Their report shows that millions of people are far too busy to enjoy fuller and happier lives. They are convinced that though they are working really hard, they are not being more efficient.
The Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim believes that people should work an 11 hour day for 3 days a week until they are 75. This is a radical view but he insists this is the way to go as people can enjoy themselves and actually be more productive until they are older.
3. I am far too busy to take breaks
You also probably think that once you get in the zone, you will become more focused and get even more done. Well, the bad news is that your brain needs breaks to stay focused.
“From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”- Alejandro Lleras, University of Illinois psychology professor.
4. I would never daydream or twiddle my thumbs
The surprising fact is that when we switch off our brains and begin to relax and daydream, some of the trickiest problems are solved. You might actually have experienced this Eureka moment when you are driving or taking a shower. Psychologists call this the ‘diffuse mode’. This is a sort of subconscious processing that goes on in the brain. But you need to be in a relaxed state for it to function best. You certainly can’t avail of it when you are concentrating. Daniel Kahneman has explained all this in his book Thinking Fast and Slow.
5. I just have no time to take a walk or go to the gym
Charles Dickens had a great routine. He would write until 2.p.m and then he would go for a long walk. He would sometimes walk for 30 miles! Yet, he wrote 20 novels and many short stories, all by hand.
“If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.” – Charles Dickens.
If you want to put your brain on steroids, try doing some physical exercise
6. I know more money will solve my problems
If you work harder, you can get a promotion and get a higher salary, right? But working harder might lead to some complications like neglecting your health, family and loved ones. It might also create even more problems in trying to manage your time.
A much better idea would be to sit down and analyze your financial situation. By making a series of cuts, you could end up happier and less stressed out.
7. If I have a busy schedule, I look more important
Busy as a bee! Yes, but the bees are producing pollen and helping to pollinate the planet. If the truth were known, appearing busy can have many rather sneaky advantages in the workplace. It can hide inefficiency and also reduce the number of interruptions. It also gives the false impression that you are really doing a great job.
Time for a reality check. Time spent on the job is not an indicator of quality, I am afraid. You will be judged on the results and also other efficiency standards.
8. I prefer multitasking because I have no choice
You are so busy that you just have to have three things on the go at the same time. Now, there is nothing wrong with talking on the phone and having a cup of coffee. Driving and texting is a different matter as it could kill you or some innocent bystander!
The problem is that when you start to do more demanding tasks which need your brain to be focused and alert, then you have to forget about multitasking. It simply does not work because you cannot focus fully on several tasks at the same time. Interrupting one task to do another is also a total waste of time. In a New York Times article, researchers reported that test takers who were interrupted and distracted performed 20% worse on tests afterwards.
The solution is to start prioritizing and also to concentrate on one thing at a time.
9. I don’t have enough time
Time is elastic. You can stretch it either way. You can spin things out, just to look busy; or you can pack a load of things into it. It just depends on how important that task or person is to you. Everybody gets 24 hours in a day. There are no discounts, coupons or special offers.
It all boils down to time management. Using time effectively to complete tasks is what you will be judged on.
10. I can never say no
It is like a tsunami. One of the reasons you are overwhelmed is that you say yes to everybody and everything. It is great for making friends but you may be exploited.
Learning how to say no is going to protect your time credit in the bank. You will be able to safeguard your account from trivia and superficiality. You will become time rich and that is the real mark of success.
Featured photo credit: Giuseppe Savo via flickr.com