Being busy is a mood - and a common one at that. But if all of us are busy, then why do so few of us seem to be satisfied with our progress and happy with our accomplishments. Busy is often mistaken for productive. Busy can also hid bigger issues we're keen to avoid.
Burnout is now an officially recognized medical condition. Inbalanced busyness could arguably be a precursor.
It can also mask a bigger issue. Intense busyness often hides a few different, bigger feelings.
Anxiousness about the future
This ties to a lot of things, including you succeeding in selling your business services or products. Yes, you may proudly attribute getting your customer to your busy, hustle nature. Your busyness may also unravel any goodwill you've gained with your prospect.
In another column, I shared media mogul Simon Cowell's wonderful take:
Cowell just shared a priceless, appropriately blunt point, when he was interviewed on Oprah's Masterclass show: "When someone says, 'Yes', shut up!"
Have you ever said "Yes" to something and the sales pitch just keeps going and going? You can't blame someone for cancelling the deal. I know I have. And when you keep talking, it isn't just nervousness that's showing. It's insecurity of the follow through.
Worrying about succeeding on your next goal? Your overactivity could actually snatch defeat from the jaws of success.
Confusion about the goals
Some people will say "Staying busy" is their actual goal. Let's hope it is a humble quip rather than the literal goal.
It's much more common to stay busy because the goal itself is too specific. As discussed in previous columns, it is the difference between a cold statistic and a living intention:
We automatically lose when we become focused on a fixed result (be a multimillionaire by age 30) rather than a set vision (create financial security by a young age). We discount potential success when we mistake the means (get a prestigious job at Google) with the ends (make a difference in the tech world).
A myopic goal does us a double disservice: We end up being more busy than perhaps we need to be because we're too narrow minded to see other opportunities and we often end up disappointed if we do make it to the goal as we didn't dig deep enough to understand the real reason we wanted to achieve it in the first place.
Worse, we're more susceptible to burn out along the way.
Shame about the past
As a coach, I instinctively get chills when I hear someone talk about "starting over", getting a "clean slate" or "erasing the past". My problem is that I don't believe that's possible. As the classic saying goes, "No matter where you go, there you are." Eventually, you're going to have to do that work.
Busyness, though, can be a temporary salve to the past: Do enough hard work, put in enough hours and drain every last bit of energy out and you'll outrun whatever ails you.
Unfortunately, if you don't like where you are from, then the decisions that keep you busy will likely be reactions to your past rather than smart strategies about your future. Like dating someone the opposite of your ex, just because the decision is to the other extreme does it make it wiser.
Four quick ways to stop using busyness as a crutch
- Put the phone down;
- Say "No" more often;
- Create blank space in your day (schedule it if you have to);
- And stretch your personal timelines as much as possible since, more than likely, your deadlines are in your control