Is there anyone out there who actually likes being too busy, flat-out or chock-a-block? No, it describes a state where there is too much of something (work, things to do etc.) and not enough of its opposite, rest, balance and a good pace in life. In fact it represents a state of imbalance and we all know that too much or too little of almost anything can be bad for us. Too much water-too little water, too much food-too little food, too much exercise-too little exercise can all cause us harm, but there are two things in life that we can never have too much of……… love, and balance itself.We often associate being too busy with being stressed, and as research has shown, when there is too much stress, we begin to perform poorly. This goes for athletes to office workers and even school children. Pile up the stress and people begin to make mistakes, go around in circles and actually become inefficient. The same thing is true of being too busy. We begin to forget things or take shortcuts and stuff them up, and have to do them all over again.I wonder what we would find if we had an “observer video” that actually measured the quality and quantity of our output in a too busy or too stressed state, and compared it to the quality and quantity of our output in a balanced or harmonious state? I think you might know the answer here and even remember the times when you were calm and focused, and everything seemed to fall into place. You got things done rather quickly and it felt good to do them and do them well.So the message seems to be less can be more, slow down in order to speed up, and that sometimes, in order to keep on going, we have to stop, take stock and rest.All sage advice from philosophers who have experienced that ‘observer video’ view of life.
In my practice I see many people who drain their batteries to almost empty at the end of each day and then only rest enough to just get enough charge to get by for the next day.They report being constantly tired, lacking joy in life and having so much to do that they can’t get out of. They can also be at risk of tipping over the edge, and frequently complain of headaches and catching everything that’s going around. Sound familiar? If it is then it could be a sign that your immune system is starting to feel the strain and maybe it is time to explore some different options that willenable you to escape this health trap. Imagine living life with a full battery, where each day only drains off a small amount of your capacity and each night brings it back to full charge again? Yes, it’s absolutely possible, but we have to get out the pruning shears to our life and sometimes replace or renovate the garden itself!
Why not take the time (I know you may be too busy but give it a go!) To move into that ‘observer video’ space and look back down at your life and actually see what’s going on. The energy that is going out, where it is going and what it is producing. Also if you’re feeling particularly gutsy, make an assessment of the “down the road effect” of continuing to struggle with the too busy life that you may be experiencing. The result might be illuminating, if not scary, and give you new impetus to start putting things in perspective.
So why do we allow ourselves to become too busy in the first place? We don’t like it, (except for those deluded souls who see it as a badge of honour and a measure of self-worth), while we would far prefer to have things under control, perhaps even with a little bit of space or buffer to cope with emergencies that might arise.Perhaps it’s the old ‘frog in the pot’ syndrome. As life and society around us tends to speed up, we get caught up in the familiarity and expectation of doing more and having more, and as these demands mount up,the costs to our health and happiness begin to rise. And, as we already know, more is not necessarily better!
Many of our teachers and poets are quick to point out the pitfalls and fruitlessness of been too busy.”There is more to life than increasing its speed.” –Mahatma Gandhi“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing”–Lao Tzu“People are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do, they never get around to what they want to do.”–Kathleen Winsor
And our own Michael Leunig reminds us that “Nothing can be loved at speed”.
One of the main things I see people do when they get too busy is to “kick out their props”. These are the things that normally provide sustainability and balance in their life. Things like taking time to eat properly and cooking a nutritious meal, going to the gym or exercising, spending time with a passion or hobby, having fun with friends, or getting enough sleep. Just at the point when you need these balancing things in your life we put them aside.
Curing the too busy syndrome can be as easy as prioritising the way we spend our time, and let Nature look after the rest. Let me explain. We only have 24 hours in each day and if we prioritise to definitely do the things that are most important to us, including the right amount of the things that keep us in balance, healthy and happy, then you may find that there are things at the end of the day or week that don’t get done.
Remember, you can only do so much in one day……. and stay in balance. So while we may be a little uncomfortable about the things that don’t get done at first, after a few weeks we can often reflect back from that observer video space, and see that some of those things didn’t matter that much anyway and that the benefits of having more energy, being happier, healthier and more rested can far outweigh the draining experience of trying to get everything done.
I’ve seen this work many times and still remember the first time I engaged with these principles by deciding not to rush anymore, and making sure I left plenty of time.
Why not give yourself a break and start to create an experience of the life that you really want rather than the one we can often find ourselves tolerating. You’re worth it!