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Are you "good" busy?

busy coaching focus stress time time management Oct 03, 2022

Are you glorifying busy in your life? Do you think it's a good thing?

When people ask me "Hey, how are you going?" - I always feel like I need to say, "I'm really busy". Like it's some way to justify my existence. If I'm busy, I must be productive, I must be contributing to society, I must be successful.

I wonder if I say to people, "yeah, I just slept in and then watch some Netflix and took some time out. And now I'm here,"  what people would really think of that. Because I feel like this whole concept is really perpetuated by society that busy equals good.

I often have a lot of things going on at the same time in my life. But it's generally quite planned out and intentional. I wouldn't say all the time, I definitely still get stressed just like everyone else. But I really try not to say that I'm busy. If someone asks, how's it going, even if I want to say that I'm busy, I'm more likely to say something like, "I have a lot going on, but I'm really enjoying it". It just has a much better insinuation, than saying that you're busy, which implies that maybe you're stressed "in a good way". I really love all the different things that I do. But sometimes I get myself in a position where maybe I don't even realize that committing to so many things or being busy is actually causing me some stress.

I'd like to share how to recognize when that's going on for you.

The reaction to stress in your body is a little bit like a fight or flight response. Your unconscious mind or the part of your body that operates on autopilot (and looks after your breathing and digestion and things like that), it's kind of hanging around in the background, just monitoring the environment. But when things get stressful, it triggers these responses in your body. Then, your body can feel a little bit like you're on a rollercoaster of hormonal responses.You might feel that when you're stressed that you want to sort of shy away and don't want to talk to anyone and really kind of go inside yourself. Or that you really want to leave the situation, which would be in those categories of flight. Maybe you feel like you want to take it out on someone, or take it out on something, or, you know, do something to try and get less less stressed (fight).

So our body, when we're stressed is being triggered like this several times every day, you're going up and down the emotional roller coaster. That can be really tiring. We don't actually need that much adrenaline day to day, we're not really in a threatened state in the traditional sense. It's not like there's a lion coming to that might eat you (depending on your location...) and you need to get scared and run away. It's an inappropriate use of the ancient part of our brain to get really stressed about situations where maybe you just have a lot going on right now you're not sure if you will meet a deadline, which is not a life threatening situation. But the reaction in your body is the same.

It also means that your brain can't really think clearly in those situations because when you're in fight or flight mode, everything is reserved for just whatever you need to either get away or to have a fight. Your rationalization is not there, it's not being utilized. Those parts of your body aren't required in this situation. You might feel a little bit like you've got tunnel vision, like you can only see what's directly in front of you. This makes it very hard to make good decisions because you're not using all of your usual decision making capacity. You're really just deciding "am I going to die in this situation? Or not?" or  "how quickly do we need to get out of this situation?".

Sometimes when I'm stressed from being too busy, I find that I make the wrong decision for the bigger picture, even if it's the right decision for just in this moment. So for example, if I have a lot of tasks to do, and I'm feeling stressed, I'm more likely to pick the task that's easy, or is kind of automated or administrative, and doesn't really require as much of my attention, rather than doing the task that involves a lot more thought and strategy (But that will actually deliver me a much better outcome and be much more productive for me in the long term). However when when you're stressed, you can't always see all of that information. It's not about your skill, it's just about your physical response. In the end, in that situation, you're not achieving what you want to, you're just getting things done and going through the motions, but you're not moving yourself towards your goals.

If you're in this state a lot, then you're constantly making decisions that are just good for you in the moment and not necessarily aligned with the bigger picture. When you're operating in survival mode all the time, it's like running a marathon and when you get to the end, you realise you were actually on a treadmill. So you've been putting in all this effort, but you actually didn't get anywhere, because the things that you've been working on weren't the things that are aligned with your big picture goals.

Normally, for me, I know I'm in this state, when I wake up feeling anxious. I instantly know that there's something on my mind even if I might not know exactly what it is. I will probably have trouble deciding on simple things. I can't decide what to eat for breakfast, or I can't decide what to make for dinner. When I start to notice those couple of things happening, I can say to myself - "okay, stop, what's happening here? Why am I feeling stressed? Who am I around? What's going on for me today?

I'll give you an example around Christmas. And the week of Christmas for me is it's like every area of my life goes into steroids at that time of the year, because I've got my corporate job is very busy, my businesses get really busy, my personal life gets really busy. My usual ability to separate, plan and focus on different things is not as easy. I'm being pulled in all different directions. I can feel that in my body all week - feeling anxious and not not at my best because I'm just in this responsive state to everything that's going on. Then I get to Christmas Day and I'm completely exhausted, because I've spent so much energy from stressing and being anxious about everything that's going on.

So I have been thinking about this - next year I need to plan before that time and think about how I'm going to attack that week, and make sure that each area of my life has some time allocated leading into that season.

I think you just need to stop, get out your detective magnifying glass and really examine what you're doing, why are you operating in the way that you're operating? And can you change something? Maybe I was scared about not getting everything organised before Christmas. Maybe I was worried about what other people would think, if I let any of those balls drop in that week. Maybe I was worried about letting people down. All of those things are feeding into the stressful situation.

Stopping and thinking gives you a chance to reassess and decide how you want to move forward. Then you can actively and consciously choose the right path that fits with your goals and what you want to achieve in the future.

I'd love to know how you're going with managing your "busy-ness", you can direct message me over on socials - or you can find other ways to work with me here.

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