Not too long ago, when you were exchanging pleasantries with friends or family, and the question of “how are you?” came up, the common answer was “fine”. Today, however, most people are likely to say “busy”. Why is that?
The answer is simple. In this day and age, most of us make it a point to overbook ourselves. Our work lives are filled with meetings, our family lives are filled with activities, and our social lives are filled with events. How often have you arrived at an event and stated: “I have three parties today, so I can only stay for an hour”. You fulfill your obligations in theory, yet you are never really there.
When is the last time you have truly relaxed, took your time, and enjoyed yourself? My guess is that it has been quite some time.
The same goes for productivity. Are you doing your very best work, or are you getting “stuff done”? Your daily or weekly checklist may be complete, but your heart and soul has not been in any of the tasks that you once completed with pride (and even enjoyment).
Life – At the Speed of Light
It’s true – life occurs at a much faster pace today. As professionals, we work longer hours due to the fact that we are always connected. More families have dual incomes, which means dual career responsibilities and travel schedules. Fewer vacation days are being taken. According to a 2017 national survey completed for the AFL-CIO, working people are taking fewer vacation days and working more.
As parents, we have our children involved in every activity we can think of. Weekends are no longer for sleeping in and planning a family fun day – they are booked weeks in advance with soccer games, dance recitals, band practices, and more.
As friends, we try to attend every birthday party, bachelor/bachelorette party, or shower that we are invited to – sometimes all on the same day.
This leaves little time to unwind, and it is taking a toll on all of us.
Signs That You Are “Too Busy”
You are likely nodding and saying that this sounds familiar, or you are shaking your head in denial, and assuring yourself you have it all under control.
Consider this – have you ever experienced any of the following:
- Chronic Lateness
I read this in an article while I was researching this topic and I want to clarify it further. This doesn’t just mean neglecting the time you are supposed to be somewhere (a meeting, a family party, a practice). It means your prior meeting ran over, you couldn’t get off your last conference call, you had another event that you were attending. This still signifies chronic lateness.
- Illnesses That Drag On
I once had an upper respiratory infection that lasted almost 6 months. I was in an out of the doctor’s office, went through several rounds of antibiotics, cough medicines, inhalers, and corticosteroids. It took forever to get rid of, and I was sick again a few months later. Chronic stress on our bodies suppresses our immune systems and upsets our hormonal balance, and we are not able to fight even mild infections that once lasted days.
- Taking Your Own Well-Being for Granted
Many of us work in offices today, where we are chained to our desks and not able to get up and move around frequently. Being sedentary during the day decreases your overall energy, and makes you less likely to exercise when you get home. Even if you don’t sit all day, so many of us have numerous commitments when we get home, which forces us to forgo exercise or hobbies. We often eat fast or casual dining food that is full of preservatives and chemicals. As a result, obesity (and diabetes) has risen to alarming rates. We choose to honor our commitments before we honor our own personal care.
- Neglecting Relationships
When is the last time you had a long, uninterrupted phone call with a close friend? When have you spent an afternoon reminiscing with an elderly family member, looking at pictures and recalling old stories? We have so many obligations that it is often difficult to square away one-on-one time with those we care most about. You may not even notice, because you have so much on your plate. But they do. Trust me. They notice.
Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? How about all of them? We have mastered juggling our lives so well, that we have become unproductive when it comes to what should matter the most: ourselves, our family, and our friends.
Having more to do DOES NOT equal more productivity.
How to Clean It Up
Unlearning all of the habits you have created in your fast-paced, digital world, takes planning, effort, and the desire to be present – for yourself and others. Your time is your most valuable commodity, don’t waste it on trivial priorities!
- Organize your life – your workspace, your home, your time. And do it YOURSELF.
- Make your health a priority – both your physical and mental health. De-stress, exercise, start eating one healthy meal a day
- Put relationships at the top of your list – life is fleeting. Those surrounding you may not always be there. Live in the moment.
- Travel – it doesn’t have to be across the world. It can be across the county! Go somewhere you have always wanted to go, without having to be anywhere else.
Learn something new – use your down time to learn or do something to make yourself better.
Our world is full of uncertainty and negativity. Don’t wait for something tragic to happen before you realign your priorities. The text messages, social media posts, and emails will all be there, waiting for you to read. Focus on the present, and enjoy the life you have. You have worked hard to get here!
by Natalie Lemons
Natalie Lemons is the founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, author of The Resilient Recruiter, and Co-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and Career Coaching and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog. Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.
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