We tend to think that when we are busy we are achieving more. However recent research suggests that 'being busy' may have the opposite effect to what we intend. Being busy can leave us unsure of our priorities, block creative thinking, and generate more stress and ill-health. We may be 'doing more', but what we are doing may not be helping us to achieve key goals. If we slow down, we can become more focused on key priorities.
1. Make careful leisure choices
In affluent Western society, we have many choices about how we can use our time. We often feel time poor. However, research shows that people in the U.S. have more leisure time than they did in the 1960's. These days we can choose to fill our leisure time with a whole host of activities including exercise, socialising and education. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by these choices, and wonder how we are going to fit in everything we want to do! Rather than trying to do everything, we need to be strategic about how we use our time, maintaining a strong sense of priorities and making careful leisure choices.
2. Don't equate work with stress
These days, many people simply equate work with high stress. It is true that in the technological changes have irreversibly changed the nature of work. With the advent of email and smart phones, work can be delivered to our inbox easily. Given the instant nature of communication, there is an expectation that we respond to colleagues and clients fairly instantaneously. However, the most effective business people will tell you that it is still necessary to stay in charge of and prioritise one's workload. Do not be controlled by others demands!
3. Don't confuse busyness and stimulation with quality of life
As a result of television and the internet, we can receive new information, entertainment and high stimulus at any time during the day. However, medical researchers point out that high constant stimulation is not good for our health. Constant stimulation can lead to chronic stress related illness such as heart disease and diabetes. Moreover, busyness can impact our ability to have fun and enjoy life. As is becoming evident with many children today, constant stimulation can dull our capacity to enjoy the small things in life. So, remember to stop and smell the roses!
4. Don't confuse busyness with productivity
It can be easy to feel noble when we are busy. If we are busy, we imagine that we must be 'working hard' and are therefore being very productive. However, in actual fact the opposite can be true. Research has shown human innovation and creativity needs space and time to flourish. It is therefore necessary to maintain a good balance of activity and rest in order to be productive. If we are too busy, we fail to be creative and our lives can be likened instead to a mouse on a treadmill. Let's not forget the power of the day-dream, leading to the space and capacity to imagine different possibilities!
Conclusion - take back control!
These four tips all come down to taking back control of our life and time. In a busy, over-stimulating world, this can be difficult. Yet, if we take the time to sit down and map out our priorities, we will be well on our way. If we stick to our priorities, we may no longer be feverishly busy, but we will be happier, healthier and more truly productive.