“If we are paying attention to our lives, we’ll recognise those defining moments. The challenge for so many of us is that we are so deep into daily distractions and ‘being busy, busy’ that we miss out on those moments and opportunities that — if jumped on — would get our careers and personal lives to a whole new level of wow.”
Robin S. Sharma (Author, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari)
“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
Henry David Thoreau (American Philosopher)
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
Socrates (Greek Philosopher)
Just so busy.
Look how important I am — because, I’m so busy.
We’re all busy, but it’s not an achievement we should be bragging about.
The truth is, busy people are distracted, and distracted people get taken advantage of.
Busyness hides under the guise of productivity and success, and those who live busy lives own it like a badge of honor.
There’s being busy in thought, with obsessive worry and uncontrolled thoughts, and busy in action, being consumed with meaningless activities or other people’s agendas.
At the mercy of both.
When you’re busy, you’re not focusing on the one or two things that are going to bring you success.
You’re focused on useless activities, or other people.
And the “other” people love it, because they benefit from it.
You get out of your own head by being busy for others — trading one busyness for another.
And then, you’re trapped.
When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like you need them to be successful.
When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like it’s your duty to take care of them.
When others try to make you feel guilty for not spending time with them, or not doing what they want, it’s simply a power play.
These people know that you have a thousand other things going on and because of this, you would rather give in to them and do what they want, instead of dealing with drama or a guilt trip.
They use your busyness against you to get what they want.
As a result, you learn to say “yes” to everything.
You have to say “yes.”
If you don’t, you’ll have to deal with emotional blackmail.
This is true in both your career, and life in general.
Staying busy is an easy trap to fall into, no matter who you are.
Why Busyness Is A Fake Sign Of Success
Often boasted about and perceived as a sign of success, the busier you are, the less productive you are, in reality.
Busyness can impair success while eroding your health, making you vulnerable to the demands of others and the pressure to keep up.
The Harvard Business Review conducted four studies on the theme of busyness and why Americans, in particular, value it so much.
In all four studies, they found that the perception of busyness was seen by others as a marker of social mobility, high status, and ultimately a more successful person — despite the negative psychological and physiological consequences of an unbalanced and “busy” lifestyle.
In contrast, the same studies were conducted with Italians, but they value leisure as more of a status symbol for success than busyness.
And busyness, as a status symbol of achievement, is growing steadily.
The truth, according to a study published in Forbes, says that busyness actually makes you less productive.
Busyness exposes you to the myth of multitasking, making you vulnerable to interruptions, and reducing your productivity time by up to 25%.
The same study reported that the key to efficiency and productivity is actually focusing on one thing at a time.
That article cited the reason behind our obsession with busyness was connected to a fear of failure associated with inactivity, suggesting that…
“We use busyness to hide from our laziness and fear of failure. We burn valuable time doing things that aren’t necessary or important because this busyness makes us feel productive.”
But, it is actually contradictory to productivity, as reported by Psychology Today, who cited a multi-year poll that found that people are reporting being busier than the year before… every year… but not without a price tag…
“Not surprisingly, women reported being busier than men, and those between ages 30 to 60 were the busiest. When the respondents were asked what they were sacrificing to their busyness, 56 percent cited sleep, 52 percent recreation, 51 percent hobbies, 44 percent friends and 30 percent family.“
Why Being Busy Will Sabotage Your Success
If you want to be average, run around all day, feel busy, and brag to other people about how busy you are.
Stay unfocused and only half-concentrated on whatever you’re doing.
Find ways to stay busy.
Find ways to claim being busy.
Continue to use busyness as a crutch for ignoring the mental discipline of focus.
Despite what we know about being busy, it’s easy to fall into its trap.
Here are 3 ways that people sabotage their own goals and future success by staying busy…
1. Busy people stay busy by worrying constantly.
If you’re not filling your time with constant multitasking and checklists to complete, you have to fill it with something.
Busyness is not just about task completion and a full schedule, it includes an undisciplined mind.
A mind without focus.
And a mind without focus will start to scan to find something to latch onto.
Given the negative bias of our brain… it automatically latches onto something bad.
Originally wired up that way to protect you from real threat, the brain now seeks to protect you from imaginary threat.
Your brain will give you a laundry list of things to obsess over.
Things to keep you distracted.
Things to keep you from moving forward — or moving at all.
Worry is a manufactured state of a busy, uncontrolled mind that can’t focus.
It creates an obsessive cycle that holds you back by keeping you paralyzed and fixated on fear.
And usually of things you have no control over or can’t do anything about.
The ultimate robber of focus.
Worrying makes you vulnerable to the power of any suggestion, and prevents you from progressing to anything good.
This kind of busyness in your mind will result in the same psychological downfall as being too busy in your life, until everything starts to suffer.
If your mind is constantly filled with worry, you have to actively reject that state and immediately start cultivating its replacement.
Fill your mind with all the things that could go right, and all the goals you could achieve, by getting control of your mind, and moving forward with your life.
2. Busy people stay busy by planning for the worst.
Worst case scenario.
How many of you have thought worst case scenario to try and strategize your way through a challenge?
What could possibly go wrong?
Well — everything.
And while in the moment, this strategy might be a way to gain some perspective on a single situation… as a habit, it’s a disaster.
People addicted to busyness take this to the extreme.
The possibilities for disaster are endless, so why not waste time considering all of them and planning make-believe missions to mitigate them?
Because, it’s a stupid use of mental energy, that’s why.
Sounds ridiculous if you say it out loud, but it’s what many do, without even trying to resist it.
Your animal brain runs rampant, like a hamster on a wheel, fabricating outcomes to any given scenario you might be faced with, with the same intensity as it would strategize an exit from a charging bull.
Snap out of it.
Get some control over yourself.
Stop being a victim of your own brain.
Successful people know how to control their time by controlling their focus.
Successful people don’t focus on the worst case scenario, not just because they know it’s a waste of time and energy, but because they are too busy working towards the best case scenario.
A disciplined mind rejects useless worry and redirects to goal-oriented outcomes and actionable steps to get there.
3. Busy people stay busy by saying “yes” to everything.
Try to fit in, let others boss you around, and say “yes” to everything.
This is the road to mediocrity.
And — potential insanity.
Because, not everyone is going to like you.
Not everyone is supposed to like you.
Seeking approval from others and needing to fit in makes you weak, needy, and vulnerable.
You stop focusing on what you want, and start acting as a caddy for everyone else.
You say “yes” to everyone’s requests and add to your schedule by scurrying around, trying to accomplish everyone else’s agenda.
If you lack purpose and if what you want and deserve in life doesn’t mean anything to you, then carry on fulfilling other people’s life goals for them.
And reaping none of the benefits for yourself.
You’ll get a pat on the head.
Lots of smiles and crumbs of approval, or appreciation that make you feel valuable… in the moment.
But, you’ll have to keep saying “yes” to keep the inflow of praise.
Once you stop, it’ll be gone.
And, you’ll be left with a life of scarcity and waste.
You weren’t put here to serve everyone else’s needs at the cost of your own.
You won’t reach the praise peak and feel like your martyred life had meaning.
You’ll look back and see a life of frenzy and servitude, with nothing to really show for it.
Strap on a backbone and set some boundaries.
Decide to focus on your life, your goals, and your purpose, and start saying “NO” to everyone else.
I’m not saying abandon generosity and kindness, and become a selfish jerk.
I’m saying start making your life as important as everyone else’s, and stop avoiding your life’s missions by being distracted by being busy for everyone else.
Being busy doesn’t make you productive. Being busy won’t make you successful. Start rejecting the cult of busyness by saying “no” to time-wasting activities, thoughts, and people. If you want to be productive, if you want to be effective and impactful, then you need to get focused. You need to start being self-aware enough to reject busy, meaningless activities and to instead focus on the one or two things that really matter to your success each day.
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