I believe we’re experiencing an epidemic of Always Busy Syndrome. One of my client was commenting that she could never simply enjoy her two young children because she’s always thinking about what’s next. The meal she has to prepare, the home work that hasn’t been started, the piles of laundry, or the brief she still needed to work on. She would often find herself sternly telling her two daughters that they had just two more minutes to finish playing so she can move onto the next thing on her to-do list. I’m sure this is something we can all relate to. I call it the Always Busy Syndrome.
Always Busy Syndrome: The feeling of always trying to get caught up on the endless list of things to do, yet never being fully present for anything. Never focusing your attention to any single moment.
If you’re suffering from Always Busy Syndrome, here are some suggestions that may help.
1. We’re all given 1,440 minutes per day. Consider what is truly important to your life. How important is connecting and really listening to your spouse when he tells you about his day? How about playing tea with your daughter? Reading her a bedtime story? Make time for the important things in your life and commit to filling as many of those 1,440 minutes with the things that matter. It’s all about prioritizing your 1,440 minutes.
2. Focus your attention – in the moment. How often are you driving down the highway and your mind has completely checked out? Or sitting across from the table with your client but your mind is completely elsewhere? How much time do you waste every day in rumination? When you notice that your mind has wandered away from this moment – bring yourself back to the present moment. The more you can be present in this moment, the more effective and efficient you’ll be so that you can actually increase productivity.
3. Returning to the present moment. This sounds nice and very ideal but it’s extremely difficult to practice. The good news is that the more you practice gently guiding your mind back to this moment, the better you’ll get at doing so. For example, if you’re in a meeting and your mind is off thinking about the hearing you had earlier that day, intentionally bring yourself into the room and what is happening in that moment by taking three breaths. Your breath is always in the present and it’s a great way to anchor yourself to what is happening now.
4. Meditation will give you more time. People frequently ask me how I find time to meditate. My answer is that it actually saves me time and I end up with more time because I meditate. Instead of being a prisoner of Always Busy Syndrome, when I sit to meditate, I can take time for myself and feel into what’s really important.
5. Stop engaging in busy work. Often, there are important things that we know we should do. It might be having that conversation with your sister you’ve been avoiding, writing an appeal, or some other crucial task. Instead of tackling these tasks head on, we engage in fake busy work. Typically, it’s things like email, Facebook, reorganizing your filing system, etc. These are very appealing because it gives us the illusion that we’re being productive. However, it only increases our stress level and further entrenches us into the Always Syndrome.
Again, we have 1,440 minutes per day. What do you want to focus those minutes on? Do you want to focus on doing meaningful, impactful work or engaging in busy work?