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Last Updated on April 19, 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

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.

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 April 19, 2021

What Is Block Scheduling? (And How It Boosts Productivity)

What Is Block Scheduling? (And How It Boosts Productivity)

On August 6, 1991, the world changed forever when the internet became publicly available. Less than 30 years later, our lives have been irrevocably transformed. We can now learn, explore, and communicate 24/7, which is both amazing and, as we all know, hazardous to our productivity[1]. This is why the question, “What is block scheduling?” has become important.

To be clear, the internet isn’t life’s only distraction, and while productivity has become a huge buzzword in recent years, it’s simply a measure of progress: Are you doing what matters most? Actively moving toward your goals?

Author Neil Pasricha writes in Harvard Business Review[2]:

“As our world gets busier and our phones get beepier, the scarcest resource for all of us is becoming attention and creative output. And if you’re not taking time to put something new and beautiful out in the world, then your value is diminishing fast.”

Most entrepreneurs relate deeply to this sentiment. Pasricha solved his own productivity challenges by instituting “untouchable days” that shield him from texts, phone calls, meetings, alerts, or appointments of any kind. He says these focused sessions have enabled him to produce his most creative and rewarding work.

I love Pasricha’s approach, but it’s not always realistic for me. As the founder and CEO of JotForm, I need to weigh in on a variety of daily decisions, from hiring to product roadmaps to financial planning. I suspect other founders feel the same way. Yet, I do believe in the power of focused work, which is also why I recommend block scheduling.

What Is Block Scheduling?

Entrepreneurs often flaunt their multitasking as a badge of honor. After all, starting a business is a tug-of-war between competing priorities.

However, while multitasking might feel efficient, research shows that shifting between tasks can slash productivity by up to 40%. Task-switching leaves what Dr. Sophie Leroy calls “attention residue,”[3] which means we’re still thinking about a previous activity while we start the next one[4].

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Here’s where block scheduling can shine. What is block scheduling, exactly?

We usually become familiar with the concept of block scheduling in high school. You likely received a schedule with a certain number of classes per day, all blocked according to class time, each school year. This is basic block scheduling.

Also called time blocking, block scheduling is the practice of allocating large chunks of time to related tasks. For example, you might designate Mondays for meetings and Tuesdays for strategy. Teachers often use block scheduling when creating lesson plans. There are many different approaches, which we’ll get to shortly.

First, here’s why it matters. Business is essentially problem-solving. Creating strategies, writing code, developing products, and all the myriad activities that entrepreneurs tackle demand focus and minimal distractions. They’re also inherently human tasks that won’t easily be replaced by AI, which means your business depends on your ability to go deep.

Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World, said in a 2017 interview:

“Focus is now the lifeblood of this economy.”

Entrepreneurs use their minds to launch ideas and create value, so the ability to concentrate is “almost like a superpower”[5].

Block scheduling can also help you to produce higher quality work in less time. Parkinson’s Law holds that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,”[6], which is why setting time limits can deflate a ballooning task.

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How to Use Time Blocking to Boost Productivity

We all have different rhythms and responsibilities. Personalization is the key to successful time blocking, and it will require some trial and error. Here’s how to get started.

What is time blocking?

    1. Assess Your Calendar

    Evaluating your current schedule can be surprisingly difficult because few of us can accurately estimate how much time a task requires. If it feels easier, track how you actually spend your time for a full week. Note each activity—even 10 minutes of email and 15 minutes of social media scrolling between meetings.

    Once you know how you’ve been spending your time, it’ll be easier to know what to keep and what to throw out when you begin to make your new schedule.

    2. Look for Patterns

    After you’ve documented a full week, group tasks into categories. For example, you can include the following categories:

    • Administrative
    • Meetings
    • Creative work
    • Email
    • Personal time.

    You can also label tasks based on how you feel while doing them, or how they influence your energy levels on a scale from 1-10. Do whatever makes sense for you.

    3. Arrange Your Time Blocks

    Experiment with different block scheduling patterns. For example, one morning may look like this:

    • 8-9am: Respond to emails
    • 9-10am: Write up marketing proposal
    • 10-11am: Brainstorm and plan for Client A’s project
    • 11am-12pm: Meet with Client A to discuss ideas

    However, you may find that you’re more creative immediately after waking up. In that case, you’d want to move “brainstorming and planning” to an earlier slot. If responding to emails is best for when you’re feeling a little lethargic after lunch, put it there.

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    Read your emotions and abilities throughout the day to tap into what is going to work best for you.

    Ultimately, the goal is to avoid switching mental gears throughout the day, week, and maybe even the month. I realize this isn’t easy, especially for entrepreneurs, but it can be incredibly valuable.

    Spending a full day on projects you dislike, such as administrative work or meetings, might feel daunting, but blocking them into a single day can make the rest of your week infinitely more productive and more enjoyable. You’re free to tackle all the entrepreneurial challenges that get your blood flowing.

    4. Create Day Themes

    If you’re someone who has to focus on many things during a single day or week, you may find it more beneficial to create themes for each day instead of blocking up your day into individual tasks. For example, you can set Mondays as Brainstorming/Planning days, Tuesdays as Administrative days, etc.

    If you take this route, I suggest always scheduling in at least one Family day. It will ensure you make time for the important people in your life and give your brain time to rest.

    Benefits of Block Scheduling

    Once you’ve answered “What is block scheduling?” and know how to use it correctly, you’ll find that you receive many benefits. Here are just a few.

    Battle Procrastination

    If you have your schedule set and know you only have an hour to get a particular task done, it will be significantly easier to avoid procrastinating.

    For more on how to stop procrastinating, check out this article.

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    Create Realistic Time Estimates

    Once you’ve been working with time blocking for a while, you’ll learn which activities take the most/least time. You may have to adjust your schedule during the first month or so to get it right, but be patient. You’ll continue to learn to realistically estimate how much time a particular task will take.

    Develop More Focus and Attention

    When your schedule doesn’t leave much room for scrolling through social media or chatting with coworkers, you’ll find your brain is more devoted to paying attention to the task at hand. You’ll respond to the limits you set for yourself and will focus to get things done.

    Final Thoughts

    Most founders crave freedom. Yet, school schedules, jobs, and social norms condition us to work with a traditional schedule and reactive mindset. Before we know it, we’ve re-created a working schedule that traces back to the 19th century, even in our own companies. Block scheduling is not only a tool to maximize productivity; it’s a way to reclaim your time[7].

    In my 14 years at JotForm, I’ve realized that business growth means doing more of what makes the biggest impact. I don’t always succeed, but I try to focus my time and energy where it matters, and I know that busyness is not synonymous with productivity.

    If you feel the same way, give time blocking a try. Share your experiments in scheduling with colleagues and family members so they understand the changes and can support you.

    Finally, don’t worry about getting it right immediately. You may need to get under the hood of your calendar and tinker around a bit. Find what works for you, then protect your new schedule at all costs.

    More Tips on Time Management

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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