We all get busy from time to time.
In fact, 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 so busy that 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 sign and taking action today 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- to 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 3 times a week. Try to negotiate with your boss to make this possible.
2. You’ve lost your sense of purpose or meaning.
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 chronic busyness.
Action step: Take a moment to reflect on the reason why you chose your work. Is it providing for your family ore helping others? Reconnect yourself emotionally with this value.
3. You’re constantly trying to meet the expectations of others.
Checking your email more times than you care to admit? Constantly on the phone with the boss or with customers? Are you growing resentful of these people? This is a sure sign that your busyness is preventing you from creating margin 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 to once an hour or less.
4. You’re unable to be present.
Always thinking about the next thing on your checklist? Are you often staring at your mobile device screen when in the presence of others? Find your mind wandering often, even during sex? If so then your chronic busyness may be robbing you of your ability to be present with those you love.
Action step: Try mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is simply the ability to become aware of the present moment. Check out the meditation website calm.com where you can complete a meditation session in just two minutes.
5. You’re exhausted.
Not just tired. You feel like you are completely burnt out. Deflated. You feel like it takes an inordinate amount of energy to do simple tasks. Small setbacks or irritations begin to trigger inordinate feelings of frustration and distress. 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.
6. You feel like you are failing in multiple areas of your life.
Falling behind on your finances? Wavering on your commitment to exercise daily? Do you feel like a jack of all trades but a master of none? You’ve probably taken on too many projects.
Action step: Write a list all the things you have committed to over the next month. Which of these things are less meaningful to you or does not help you achieve important goals? Find a way to graciously relieve yourself of these commitments and avoid them in the future.
7. You don’t take vacations — ever.
You’ve maxed out your available vacation time. 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 on one task for more than 10 minutes.
For the chronic 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 (no worries, I’m just glad you came back!).
Action step: 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 you don’t know why.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of making ourselves 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 it’s time to make decisions, big or small.
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.
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. You don’t remember what you had for breakfast (possibly because you routinely skip 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. 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 (and you dread going there).
It doesn’t help that you can easily locate all your stuff. If your workspace is a mess and it’s causing you stress, you are likely overextending yourself.
Action step: Find one thing on your desk that you can throw out today. Do this everyday for the next seven days.
14. You double-book or miss appointments.
If this is happening consistently, it’s a sure sing that you need reduce your load. You’re probably saying yes to new commitments too quickly and too often.
Action step: Guard your yes; in other words, wait 12 to 24 hours before agreeing to commitments.
15. You’re lonely.
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.
If you’ve identified with five or more points on this list, stop. Take some time to slow down to regain your balance.
Featured photo credit: Jeshoots via pixabay.com