If you’re like me, and most of us are, the 12th hour of a long workday is a point of truth and wisdom.
I know, I know — you’re always making time to exercise, take a bath, eat a homemade meal, or watch your favorite show — and that’s OK. But there’s a fine line between being incredibly busy and being a “busyness martyr.”
Professional coach and educator Dorie Clark wrote a bestselling book, The Busy Life, to explain why being overwhelmed at the end of the day is “more than unhealthy.” She is also a best-selling author and internationally recognized spokesperson for Oprah.
In her book, Clark describes the problem of busyness as a “connection condition” whereby we use busyness as a means to fill our lives with activity and show up at work (or home) in good shape. Sometimes, we can see that being “busy” is damaging and actually results in an unhealthy lifestyle, as a “collapse in health” due to the “exhaustion, angry mood and unhappiness that follows in the wake of a busy lifestyle.”
Do you get upset with yourself for not being enough? She discusses another popular pattern of “busyness” called the “hashing pattern,” which is specifically focused on “the idea that being busy is important, and everyone else ought to be busy, too.”
Clark says, “This model of life serves us by demonstrating that we are aware of our needs, that we are willing to listen to them and to make time to meet them. But of course, in this model, busyness leads us to see ourselves as little more than dumpsters for everything else in our life, and this is definitely not a healthy way to live.”
Sometimes our busyness makes us feel angry, victimized, lonely and self-deprecating. It also reveals that our busyness has not kept us active, or it makes us feel like we’re being selfish and that all we care about is “the box we are in.”
How do we be more productive at the end of the day? Working smarter and less busy is key. Doing simple daily things — organizing your work station, getting your work done after you get home, allowing yourself to enjoy a pre-dinner walk — can keep you feeling in good health and calm. It also creates a moment of disconnect from the daily grind.
Here are four ways Clark says we can “reduce our busyness” and “create a healthy, well-functioning life.”
Plan ahead. While it’s tempting to just tackle the work that’s before you, keep your life within the plan. Who has time for a plan to accommodate every eventuality? Make a list of goals and then dive into your plan, up to and including the end of the day. Avoid limiting your time. It’s easy to limit your time when you have tons of commitments and deadlines, but every person I know loves to plan for what they’re going to do before the day begins. Sit down at the end of the day and work out everything you need to do. Make a list and prioritize your work. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Be inspired by people like Winston Churchill, who simply took the time to sit down and work out his daily routine by writing down things that he wanted to accomplish. Take daily care of yourself. Leave the shopping to the weekend. Check in with yourself on your health. Does your health show up in your office? Are you feeling healthy? Give yourself permission to take the time needed to get well. Do what you love for fun and for love. Just because you hate it, doesn’t mean it’s bad! Busyness does not make you a better person or a better wife or a better dad. It does not fill your heart. It might even make it sick.
Says Clark, “There’s nothing to be gained by feeling “busy.””