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Last Updated on September 19, 2022

How to Stop Being Busy All the Time (17 Signs and Tips)

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How to Stop Being Busy All the Time (17 Signs and Tips)

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.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The first step in figuring out how to stop being busy all the time is examining why.

The following 17 signs will help you get started on examining the “why” so that you can take action steps to prevent busyness from overtaking your life.

17 Signs You’re Too Busy (And How to Stop Being Busy)

1. You Hardly See Your Family

Can’t remember the last time you had dinner with the family or got to 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. If you are hardly seeing your family this is a sure sign that you are too busy.

Action Step

Schedule dinner with your family at least three times a week. Try to negotiate with your boss to make this possible. You can also try to schedule a family day where you set aside work projects and focus on fun activities like family game nights.

For more on what you can do, check out our article: How to Maximize Family Time.

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 busy all the time. If you find that you are losing purpose in what you do, take action.

Action Step

Take a moment to reflect on the reason why you chose your work. Is it providing for your family or helping others? Reconnect yourself emotionally with this value.

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. Doing a digital detox can help be less busy.

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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. A recent study found that mindfulness meditation can help free up cognitive resources so that you can retain focus on activities.[1] Mindfulness is simply the ability to become aware of the present moment.[2] 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

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. Check out our guide on how to improve your night routine.

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

Do you find yourself falling behind on your finances, wavering on your commitment to exercise, or feel like a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none? Do you find yourself saying, “I am too busy”? These are clear signs that you’ve probably taken on too many projects and keeping yourself too busy. If these signs sound familiar to you, then take steps to checkin on aspects of your life that are keeping you too busy all the time.

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.

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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. Science says that even planning a vacation 8 weeks before the trip boosts happiness.[3]

Action Step

Try sitting for five minutes in complete silence when you first wake up—commit to doing absolutely nothing. Does doing nothing sound counterproductive to you? Don’t worry! Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is nothing.

8. You Can’t Focus 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.

Action Step

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

One strategy that you can try is the Pomodoro Method. The Pomodoro Method helps to manage mental energy via activity switching.[4]

9. You Are Unhappy and Don’t Know Why

Sometimes we fall into the trap of making ourselves too busy to avoid life’s difficulties. Avoiding these more negative emotions is a natural response. The trouble starts when we are persistently avoidant, which is linked to increased anxiety.[5] 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? Take time to take stock of what might be the cause of your unhappiness.

10. You Are Paralyzed When Making Decisions

At its worst, even the act of going to 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 of the desire to keep all options open. In other words, we want it all. In reality, the options are limitless while we are limited. 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. You can start prioritizing your decisions and identifying what are your most important objectives. You can also simply adopt a method of simply choosing a decision and running with it.

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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. Accepting this role can lead to taking on more than you would like.

Action Step

Give yourself permission to ask for help when you need it. This may require a drastic change in your mindset – reluctance to seek help is common.[6] Give someone the gift of being able to help you.

Don’t tell yourself “I am too busy to ask for help” – take initiative and learn how to ask for help when you’re afraid to do so.

12. Stop Eating in Tandem With Other Tasks

Do you find yourself constantly using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments? If your answer is yes, then 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 one activity instead of multitasking. Building on our previous step, learn to say no to more projects. Create a quiet place for yourself to focus with no distractions and get to work!

See here for more on how to avoid multitasking.

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

You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but you ignore it because it takes up too much valuable time. You tell yourself “I’m too busy” to grab that essential fuel your body and mind need in the morning. When you find time to eat, chances are its unhealthy fast food. You are also 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. Check out our 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time to learn how you can fuel up and use your time well.

14. Your Workspace is Messy

How clear and organized is your workspace? Is it difficult to easily locate all your stuff? Is there clutter present? If your workspace is a mess and causing you stress, you are likely overextending yourself.

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Action Step

Find one thing on your desk that you can throw out today. Do this every day for the next seven days. Also, invest in desk organizers to make finding your things more efficient and stress-free. Check out these tips for how to revamp your office space.

15. You Double-Book or Miss Appointments

Do you find yourself double-booking or missing meetings and appointments? Is this something that consistently happens in your life? If this sounds like you, this is 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 yeses! Try to wait 12 to 24 hours before agreeing to commitments. This is also a great way to set boundaries to prevent ourselves from burning out.

Additionally, try investing in a planner to help you physically keep track of your schedule.

16. You Dread Getting Up in the Morning

Do you find that your days are so crammed full that you literally dread them even before starting them? This is a sign that 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. Take time to assess where you can scale – it may have to be pulling away from work projects or other seemingly important commitments.

Remember to keep in mind that when you are too busy and you decide to scale back, you make the choice to put your best work forward in more crucial projects. Make this a common practice and you’ll find that refreshment and excitement again.

17. You’re Lonely

Do you find yourself feeling lonely in a busy period of your life? You may not be making time to reach out to friends. You might also be turning down requests to get together. Instead, you’re working on finishing whatever property is occupying your social schedule.

Action Step

Reach out to a close friend today, even one you have not connected with for a while. Work is important, but more projects that you have on your plate will be there when you’re done taking the time to socialize. You owe it to yourself to take a break, reconnect, and find your community.

How to Stop Being Busy All the Time (17 Signs and Tips)

Tips on How to Stop Being Busy

5 Actions
How to Stop Being Busy All the Time (17 Signs and Tips)
Assess Your Time: The first step in figuring out how to stop being busy all the time is examining why. Some common signs is hardly seeing friends and family, feeling like you lost a sense of purpose, not feeling present, and feeling like a failure in your life.
How to Stop Being Busy All the Time (17 Signs and Tips)
Check in With Your Body: Feeling exhausted is a big sign that you are too busy. Set bedtime routines and nightly rituals. Breakfast fuels your body and it’s important to have the healthy booster you need in the morning.
How to Stop Being Busy All the Time (17 Signs and Tips)
 Ask These Questions: When considering taking on a new task ask yourself why this task is important, what the benefits are for completing the task, and what the task will cost you (time, money, etc.).
How to Stop Being Busy All the Time (17 Signs and Tips)
Stop Multitasking: When eating or driving, avoid checking emails or catching up on work on the side. Be more intentional with your downtime.
How to Stop Being Busy All the Time (17 Signs and Tips)
Take Vacations and Rest Seriously: In order to function well, you must give your mind and body time to rest and recharge. Don’t skip out on taking vacations and ensure you are getting adequate rest every day.

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.

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Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Cylon George

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

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