When You're Just Too Busy

When You're Just Too Busy 150 150 Neen James

We wear busy like a badge of honor. Busy has become a status symbol within our society, which is crazy when you stop to consider how terrible it is to our productivity, personal well-being and relationships. We believe if we aren’t busy, we aren’t productive.

Researchers have discovered people are feeling overwhelmed at work dealing with constant distractions that then spill over into our personal lives, affecting our recovery, families and friendships. The result: the feeling of anxiety, stress, fatigue and a lack of focus on what matters most.

The Centre for Time Use Research at Oxford University says the total amount of time people work is the same as it’s always been and data indicates people who say they’re the busiest generally aren’t.

Question is: If we aren’t actually busier than in the past, why do we feel like it?  

Part of the answer is simple – attention is our new currency and is more valuable than ever before. With a constant stream of incoming emails, meetings to attend, things to read, ideas to execute, it’s no wonder we feel unable to give our undivided attention to what is most important.  When you couple everything competing for our attention with the digital age of technology, it’s no wonder we are feeling overwhelmed, overstressed and overtired. Fact is: we work 24×7. We never get a break.

Technology and societal pressures leave us feeling the need to be accessible to everyone all the time. As a result, everything suffers. Ironically, being constantly accessible actually decreases our productivity, not the other way around. When we feel rushed, we actually suffer from decreased production, focus and attention to detail. The pace of which we work slows, we are more apt to make mistakes and more likely to disconnect from meaningful relationships.

When we are overwhelmed and lack concentrated focus, we inadvertently compile our stress by taking on even more obligations than we can handle. Before we know it, we are sacrificing what matters most to suffice what matters now. Even worse, we have preprogrammed ourselves to believe we must always be on, plugged in and responsive. We fail to give ourselves the necessary time to recover and refocus.

It’s time to change our mindset. It’s time for an Attention Revolution.  We must stop considering busy as an indication of our importance. We must measure our success not by the time it takes to complete a task, rather the results we achieve. It’s time to prioritize what matters most to us and use those priorities as filters for what we commit to doing. We must learn to say ‘no’ to requests for our time that steal our attention from what matters most. It’s time to start realizing the value our undivided attention brings to relationships, productivity and accountability.

Maybe then, we’ll see we aren’t as busy as we thought we were.