Why are we always SO busy?

Deborah Wilson

Busy workers in a workplace

“I’m too busy.”

“Sorry, I’m in a hurry.”

“I don’t have time right now.”

Sound familiar? In today’s 24/7, fast-paced world, it’s easy to always be on the go. Once you check one task off your list, it’s on to the next task. Rinse and repeat.

While Western culture typically celebrates being busy, I believe it’s important to look at our situation, question how we got here and ultimately, adopt a different perspective.

We all know 2023 has become the year of all years regarding how BUSY we are. (Then again, don’t we say this every year?) Take a step back and look around. It could be in the workplace or when you’re out and about shopping, socialising or doing anything else. We are all always in a hurry. By why? And for what purpose? The way we are all going, the only thing most of us are heading towards is burnout, illness or worse (for some reason, my mind always goes to a heart attack – having been here!).

Being aware is one thing, but taking action is harder

So, you know you’re way too busy and constantly overscheduled, which is taking a toll on your mental, emotional and physical health. From here, ask yourself this important question:

What are you going to do about it?

Some considerations (and this is not a finger-pointing exercise, by the way):

  • Why are you enabling the hurry?
  • Are you misusing the word ‘urgent’?
  • Have you gotten so used to the busyness and being on autopilot that you no longer question what you are doing?
  • Have you forgotten to spend time with yourself planning?

Most of us are ‘yes’ people, and I understand why. Being a ‘yes’ person minimises conflict and often momentarily makes us feel good about ourselves. The next time you say ‘yes’ to anything that could be a ‘no’ or even a ‘maybe,’ understand you are enabling the hurry. Similarly, when you live life attached to your emails or phone, you are enabling the hurry! After all, most of us are doing our day jobs at night, right? Especially if you attend meetings all day with little time to do other work.

Change is in our hands

Change can be uncomfortable, but if nothing changes, nothing changes. For our lives to be sustainable moving forward, we have to get comfortable with several things, including:

  • Prioritising (and identifying what is actually a priority)
  • Shifting timelines (when you are prioritising effectively, something has to give)
  • Understanding you can’t meet every deadline imposed on you
  • Feeling okay with disappointing people at times
How does this look in practice?
  • Your standard 24-hour response target for emails might become 48 hours
  • Perhaps 60-minute meetings are scheduled for 45 minutes instead
  • You say ‘no’ to an invitation you’d usually accept without thinking twice
  • Stop and plan out your priorities being realistic

It may take a little while to get used to these changes, but trust me, everything will work out. Modelling behaviour that prioritises self-care is a critical leadership quality. Sometimes, the secret to speeding up is slowing down. As we slow down and take our foot off the accelerator, we’re resetting, reimagining and contemplating the ‘what ifs?’ You can only go so far by constantly doing, doing and more doing.

Over to you. Have you made a deliberate decision to slow down, and what were the consequences? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose. Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746. www.ontalent.com.au

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