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15 Signs You Are Too Busy And Should Stop

15 Signs You Are Too Busy And Should Stop

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

More by this author

Cylon George

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

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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