It’s The Second Week Of The New Year- Are You Already Too Busy??

Sitting at La Ferme on Rue Saint Roche in Paris, I was thinking, reading and writing. First, I found myself deeply entrenched in a book by Stephen Hall titled “Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience”. Aaaah the beautiful pastime of reading. What a luxury. Nearly 2 hours   passed before I felt guilty enough to get some work done, after all it was the first week of January and most Americans were already working overtime. How can I truly enjoy sitting in a Parisian café without “doing” anything.   Especially since IMF head Christine Lagarde  charged the French to   stop “obsessively thinking” and roll up their shirt sleeves and "get to work" to pull the country out of the financial doldrums.   So, now that even the French must give up the fabulous public comportment of thinking, the thing that coffee houses, college classes, scientific progress and philosophy were all based on…perhaps we North Americans need to take it up.

courtesy of by Steven Parker via Flickr

Truth be told, I rather enjoy the slower, contemplative lifestyle of the French rather than the pathology of the North American busy body. Hearing the constant declaration of busyness makes me wonder if anyone is actually accomplishing anything or is it just futile busyness? For me, busyness has always been associated with a scramble of mental and physical chaos. I think of it as a desire to create outcomes — a mess of measurable tasks that suggest productivity but deter from balance.   In reality, most of what’s created under deadline is probably not the best work.

Most people I know work in segments of broken time and attention. Nothing ever gets the full attention it deserves. The chaotic effort to get it done, right away, so we can feel an accomplishment in the finishing of the task is interesting to me. The obsession of what’s at hand — to get this email out, call this person, read this document — seems a bit counterproductive. After all,   emails and calls put other people’s priorities in our lives- so does that actually make us more productive?

courtesy of Violette79 via Flickr

The other thing I find very interesting about being so busy is that it has become a status symbol  . It used to be that busyness was a thing for the lower class; the thought of lack of leisure time seemed ludicrous to the elite. Now, it seems that high human capital equals high paying jobs, which suggests those high paying jobs must have constant output. So then, being busy means you’re important. Right?

courtesy of by jmv via Flickr

Author and psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell outlines a few reasons why we need to stay busy in his book, “CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap”.

Here’s a few of the 26 reasons he outlines.

  • It’s is so easy with cellphones and BlackBerrys a touch away.
  • It is a kind of high.
  • It is a status symbol.
  • We’re afraid we’ll be left out if we slow down.
  • We avoid dealing with life’s really big issues – death, global warming, AIDS, terrorism – by running from task to task.
  • We do not know how not to be busy.

The solutions according to the good doctor?

  • Move from the F State: frenzied, flailing, fearful, forgetful, furious - to the C State: cool, calm, clear, consistent, curious and courteous
  • Deal more effectively with cell phones and email so they don't overrun your life
  • Quantitatively rate how you're spending your time - and re-engineer your life based on your priorities
  • Love the word "no"
  • Replenish and maintain energy throughout the day
  • Make work effortless on demanding days by getting into a rhythm and flow
  • Keep your brain sharp with a seven-step plan for peak performance

Dr. Wayne Dyer is famous for saying that if you constantly need to “do this and do that,” you just end up with a bunch of “do-do”.

Hope that helps!

Much Love

M