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Last Updated on June 1, 2021

15 Signs You Are Too Busy and Need to Take a Break

15 Signs You Are Too Busy and Need to Take a Break
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Conventional wisdom says that busyness is necessary in order to thrive in today’s world, but sometimes things get out of control. There are times when we are too busy, and it causes us to suffer in many aspects of our life. Sometimes, it happens so subtly that we don’t realize what’s happening until it’s to late: a broken marriage, strained relationships with the kids, health scares, anxiety attacks.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can take control of your life again by recognizing the warning signs and taking action to reverse the trend.

Do you recognize any of these warning signs in your life?

1. You Hardly See Your Family

Can’t remember the last time you had dinner with the family or got the see the kids? You are probably a victim of 12 or 14-hour workdays. This kind of schedule may be unavoidable over the short-term but can have devastating effects on family life over the long-term.

Action step:

Schedule dinner with your family at least three times a week. Try to negotiate with your boss to make this possible.

2. You’ve Lost a Sense of Purpose

Are you loving your work or simply going through the motions in order to collect a paycheck? Are you starting to compromise on your values by taking shortcuts? You may have lost your sense of purpose due to being too busy.

Action step:

Take a moment to reflect on the reason why you chose your work. Is it providing for your family or helping others? Make use of this free Worksheet For Instant Motivation Boost to rediscover your inner drive and move forward. Reconnect yourself emotionally with this value. Grab your free worksheet here.

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3. You Constantly Try to Meet Others’ Expectations

Do you check your email more times than you care to admit? Are you constantly on the phone with your boss or with customers? Are you growing resentful of these people? This is a sure sign that your busyness is preventing you from creating boundaries in your life.

Action step:

Schedule 10 to 15 minutes between calls with clients so you can have built-in downtime to regain your balance. Become intentional about how often you check email. If you find yourself checking every few minutes, try reducing it to once an hour or less.

4. You Aren’t Present

Are you always thinking about the next thing on your checklist? Are you often staring at your mobile device screen when in the presence of others? Do you find your mind wandering often, even during intimate moments? If so, always being too busy may be robbing you of your ability to be present with those you love.

Action step:

Try mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness[1] is simply the ability to become aware of the present moment. Check out the meditation website Calm, where you can complete a meditation session in just two minutes. You can also check out How to Focus: The Ultimate Guide.

5. You’re Exhausted

You feel like you are completely burnt out and deflated. You feel like it takes an inordinate amount of energy to do simple tasks. Small setbacks or irritations begin to trigger extreme feelings of frustration and distress.

Moreover, you’re consistently waking up tired even when you get a full eight hours of sleep. You may be burning up large amounts of physical and emotional energy by always being “on.” This may also be due to excessive worry about everything on your plate.

Action step:

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Commit to stop all work-related activity by a certain time each night before going to bed. Instead of working all the way to bedtime, create a relaxing bedtime routine that include activities such as listening to relaxing music, meditating, and leisure reading.

6. You Feel Like You Are Failing in Multiple Areas of Your Life

If you’re falling behind on your finances, wavering on your commitment to exercise, or feel like a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none, you’ve probably taken on too many projects and keeping yourself too busy.

Action step:

Take this Life Assessment and find out what aspects of life that require your immediate attention. By taking this assessment, you’ll get an analysis of your overall life. Take the assessment for free here.

Then, write a list all the things you have committed to over the next month. Which of these things are less meaningful to you or won’t help you achieve important goals? Find a way to graciously relieve yourself of these commitments and avoid them in the future.

7. You Never Take Vacations

You’ve maxed out your available vacation time, and you dread the thought of taking any time off because you fear you will fall behind, waste precious time, or be bored out of your mind. Your busyness habit has trained you to place your sense of self-worth in doing rather than simply being.

Action step:

Try sitting for five minutes in complete silence when you first wake up—commit to doing absolutely nothing.

8. You Have a Hard Time Focusing for More Than 10 Minutes

For the chronically busy person, multitasking may become the norm. You are constantly juggling anxiously between tasks that need to get done. You’re probably actively running at least 3-5 tabs on your browser this minute. In fact, I’m guessing you’ve toggled back and forth a few times prior to reaching this point in the article.

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Action step:

Join this free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distraction and learn how to work with distractions by training up your focus muscle. It’s a 30-minute session that can effectively boost your focus ability. Join the free class now.

Also, use an internet blocking tool to experience what it’s like to work distraction free for 10 to 20 minutes.

9. You Are Unhappy and Don’t Know Why

Sometimes we fall into the trap of making ourselves too busy to avoid some life difficulty. It often happens subconsciously, so by the time we notice how we’re feeling, we don’t know what’s troubling us.

Action step: Try to get to the underlying cause of your unhappiness. Ask yourself, what am I avoiding by being so busy?

10. You Are Paralyzed When Making Decisions

At its worst, even the act of going the grocery store to pick up a tube of toothpaste can be extremely anxiety-producing. You may find the activity so paralyzing that you leave the store without purchasing anything.

Sometimes we fall into the busy trap by the desire to keep all options open. In other words, we want it all. In reality, the options are limitless while we are limiting. This incongruence is the source of our paralysis in decision making.

Action step: Learn to be at peace with the fact that making a decision means giving up other options.

11. You Don’t Ask for Help

Have you ever heard the expression, “Want something done? Find a busy person”? You may be the busy person that others perceive as competent and able to help them with their problems. This may be one reason why you struggle to ask for help when you need it.

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Action step: Give yourself permission to ask for help when you need it. Give someone the gift of being able to help you.

12. You Don’t Remember What You Had for Breakfast

You may have heard that breakfast is most important meal of the day, but you ignore it because it takes up too much valuable time, and you’re just too busy. When you find time to eat, chances are it’s fast food, and you’re likely to eat it on the run.

Action step: Would you neglect to go to the gas station to fill up your empty car because you thought it was a waste of time? Think of your own body in a similar way. Take time to fuel up in the morning.

13. Your Workspace Is Messy

It doesn’t help that you can easily locate all your stuff. If your workspace is a mess and causing you stress, you are likely overextending yourself.

Action step: Find one thing on your desk that you can throw out today. Do this every day for the next seven days.

14. You Double-Book or Miss Appointments

If this is happening consistently, it’s a sure sign that you need to reduce your load. You’re probably saying yes to new commitments too quickly and too often, which is keeping you too busy in general.

Action step: Guard your yes; in other words, wait 12 to 24 hours before agreeing to commitments.

15. You’re Lonely

Do you find yourself lonely in a busy period of your life? You’re probably not making time to reach out to friends. You might also be turning down requests to get together.

Action step: Reach out to a close friend today, even one you have not connected with for a while.

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The Bottom Line

If you’ve identified with five or more points on this list, stop and take some time to slow down to regain your balance. Your time is valuable, and you don’t want to spend it all on keeping busy while missing the beauty of each moment you are placed in. Take a moment to look around and feel grateful for where you are and how you feel today.

More on Tackling Busyness

Featured photo credit: shade jay via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mindful: What is Mindfulness?

More by this author

Cylon George

A spiritual chaplain and blogger who writes about practical spiritual tips for busy people.

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Last Updated on August 4, 2021

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity
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We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus better? How to concentrate and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

Here’re 4 essential ways to help you focus:

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

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Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

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Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

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Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

More Tips About Improving Focus

Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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