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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Try mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness 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.
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.
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.
Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
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.
Join this free 4-Day Mini Series – Hacking Procrastination and learn how to end procrastination and stay focused to get things done.
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.
Action step: Give yourself permission to ask for help when you need it. Give someone the gift of being able to help you.
12. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks
If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.
It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.
Action step: Focus on only 1 activity instead of multitasking.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. You Dread Getting up in the Morning
If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. You simply lose motivation to catch up with all the work you have to do every day. You’re burned out!
Action step: A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.
17. 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.
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.
To stop being busy, check out this video:
Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com
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