I have to admit something – I have been falling into Busy-ness Syndrome, where I feel like I am too busy with my responsibilities to do anything I perceive to be “extra”. That could be an uncomfortable conversation when tending to personal obligations. Busy-ness Syndrome is not something I have made up. It’s been studied for years as people, specifically Americans, continue to suffer with the idea that “there isn’t enough time!”
John Maynard Keynes is quoted as saying “our grandchildren will work around 3 hours a day and probably only by choice” in 1930 (The Economist). I am sure we thought the same thing when reading it - that doesn’t describe my day at all! In fact, it feels like we swung in the opposite direction! Although, I am not sure that I would want it the way Keynes described it.
There are different kinds of busy. If we can be busy with purpose, humans find their busy-ness enjoyable. The workday could be 10 hours long and joy would still prevail. I am sure you can relate…the reality is that’s not every day. Unfortunately, some of the administrative tasks we all have are necessary and may not contribute to the feeling of purpose or adding value. How can we get ourselves back on track to joyful busy-ness?
I had the privilege of having wonderful grandparents in my life. My grandma Betty, through action or direction, has provided me with the rules I follow to get myself back on track. These rules don’t prevent me from experiencing Busy-ness Syndrome. Rather, when I find myself spinning in busy-ness, it allows me to reset and address conflict, find time for obligations and reduces the feeling of burden a constant workload can create.
1. Go to sleep – You will always feel better about something if you sleep on it. Although I cannot observe the same strict rest hour from 1pm – 2pm, like I did with my grandma, when I am feeling overwhelmed with busy-ness, I go to bed early. At the very least, I will take a few quiet minutes for myself away from others to “rest”. I can then return to the tasks at hand feeling more open and refreshed. It may feel like wasted time to sleep or reset but a refreshed outlook will make tasks or responsibilities seem less impossible.
2. Ask for help and offer to help others – You are surrounded by amazing, capable people who can help you with any problem you are facing. Betty has always had a strong group of friends and family available to help and pick up the slack when she can’t. You are also an amazing, capable person who can help others. Get involved in your community or in different ways at work. My grandmother volunteered with Special Olympics and schools and joined several women’s groups. Finding groups that operate with purpose outside of work will reinvigorate your feeling of day to day purpose. At work, sharing knowledge, lessons, or guidance with someone as their leader or mentor can also influence your perspective.
3. Take a step back and relax – You must take a break. If I say to my Grandma that I am taking time during a weekend for myself or a day off, her response is always, “Good for you”. Take a half day to hike, get a massage, read a book, enjoy a long lunch with a friend or take a 10-day vacation. Stepping back and relaxing isn’t an indulgence, it is a necessity.
4. Eat something good and go outside – You must take care of your physical self. Eating well, like eating vegetables with each meal, preparing your own food, and finding the foods that work with your body, not against it, is a priority. Typical grandmother, she also has cookies and donuts around, so she allows for sweet treats too. She also believes in being active and shared the joy of being outside with me. At 95, she is still outside every day she can tending to her flowers or picking up sticks from the lawn. Find things that make you happy to take care of your physical self. Your physical wellbeing will help your mental wellbeing and prevent your busy-ness from weighing you down and decreasing your productivity.
Amy Alvarez is a Certified Professional of the Society of Human Resource Management and has a Master’s in Human Resource Management. Amy has experience in Human Resources in healthcare and retail, Management in big box and specialty retail stores and Physician Recruitment. Through these roles and training, Amy is well-versed in recruitment and hiring strategies for “hard to fill” roles, dealing with low productivity, helping encourage employee engagement, on-boarding, training, day-to-day management in a retail setting, employee relations, and so much more. For questions or concerns about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.