When Busyness Steals Your Ability to be Mindful
“Those who are wise won’t be too busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.” – Lin Yutang
“I am so busy.”
It’s a simple, common, four-word sentence.
And with the uptick in demands professionally, quantum increases technologically, and intense strains on our time personally, it’s a sentence the vast majority of us use with great frequency.
We use it when speaking with professional colleagues to show our importance: “Things are going extremely well for me…I am so busy.”
We use it when there is some task, job, or duty we’d rather not do: “Sorry. Can’t help with that…I am so busy.”
And we use it to describe our yesterday…tomorrow…weekends…and life: BUSY.
In the journey through life, though, it’s important to keep in mind the goal should never be mere busyness.
Juliet Funt suggests there are four causes of being busy that rob us of full productivity. She thinks we all have aspects of these four characteristics within us and that they steal our time, energy, ideas, satisfaction and potential to truly live inspired. They negatively impact our relationships, our health and our bottom line.
The four thieves of productivity are: Drive, Excellence, Information and Activity.
In reading these traits, they sound healthy, beneficial, good. But when taken to an extreme, they are absolutely detrimental.
Drive demands that we are always sprinting forward toward the next goal, achievement, buzz, rung on the ladder.
Excellence reminds us that what we have is not enough, that the project remains imperfect, and demands that we always give more, get more, perform better.
Information pulls us into the weeds of needing to be in the know on everything, from the Hollywood gossip and what our friends’ friends ate for dinner to headlines from around the community or the world that have no bearing on our lives.
Finally, Activity insists on our calendar always being packed, our day never including rest, and our mind never being able to reflect, pause, wonder.
Four Questions to Rid Yourself of these Productivity Thieves
The antidote to the thieves requires pivoting away from the “so busy” and into the “actually important.” When you struggle with one of the characteristics (and we all struggle with at least one of them!) consider asking one of the following questions:
- Drive: Is there anything I can let go of?
- Excellence: Where is good enough, good enough?
- Information: What do I truly need to know?
- Activity: What is most important right now?
(I had the great pleasure of visiting with Juliet Funt on our most recent Live Inspired podcast. She’s a fascinating person, outstanding communicator, passionate mother and extraordinary thinker. She unpacks these ideas with additional clarity as well as introduces an important concept for work and life called Whitespace. If you ever feel so busy, I encourage you to listen here.)
My friends, it becomes easy in the busyness of the day, the stress of the job, and the challenges in the home to be buried by the tasks, the anxiety, and the stuff of the day.
But today, choose instead to slow down and be a bit more mindful.
No, it won’t remove all the little things in life that require your attention. But it will free you to focus on the things that actually matter.
This is your day.