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10 Lies People Tell Themselves To Rationalize Their Overwhelmed Schedules

10 Lies People Tell Themselves To Rationalize Their Overwhelmed Schedules

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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

More by this author

Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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