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Rushed and Rude: The High Cost of Busyness


Discretionary time for adults feels like a thing of the past. How often are most of us able to wake up and decide what to do today? Almost never. It can be difficult to set aside adequate family time, much less time for pure leisure activities, or for ourselves.

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(Photo Credit: Alan O’Rourke/Flickr)

Part of the problem is that it’s so easy to always be in touch. Emails and smartphones demand our attention and pull us out of our actual reality and back to work throughout the day – and even, sometimes, the night.

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But could the cultural norm of excessive busyness be doing more harm than we realize? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Incivility at work, stemming from busyness, impacts individuals and the bottom line.

All this rushing around can lead to some pretty strained interactions. Christine Porath of The New York Times recently wrote an article on the topic. She points out that incivility has grown alongside busyness, and that the impact is greater than most realize. Dealing with constant rushing and rudeness impacts health and the bottom line. Hurried interactions, even downright rude ones, have become somewhat normalized in the workplace – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t taking a toll.

Keep in mind that every interaction we have with others can either serve to tear them down or lift them up. Taking the time to handle each other with a bit more care could lead to happier, healthier, workers – and therefore, a more productive and successful business. Start by being the change you want to see in your work-world. Here’s hoping others will follow your lead.

2. Sometimes, busyness is a kind of self-imposed stress.

Our schedules are packed, yes. There is always a lot to do. But, holding firmly to a strict timetable could be causing more pressure and stress than it’s worth. If your day is full of work, errands, family commitments, know that you’re not alone.

Also, understand that the way you approach your busy day matters a great deal. Try thinking of your days as full, not busy. Try to have fun with it, and be present at each step. Having too much to do can take us out of the moment and leave us always thinking of what’s coming up next rather than relishing the current activity.

Sometimes, it’s our approach that needs adjusting, not the schedule itself. It’s likely that some of the things you have planned are things that you chose to do, right? So, embrace them and try to be present in the moment instead of stressing the next step.

3. Remember, you’re not doing anything wrong if you’re not doing anything.

Is it possible that we are trying to avoid something by keeping so busy? The habit and pattern of rushing around can lead to more of the same. Downtime becomes something we almost feel guilty about when it’s such a rarity.

Look at your schedule, your obligations, and consider cutting back on something if you’re not really excited about it. It’s okay to not have plans for a Sunday. Really, it is! Unscheduled time isn’t an indicator of laziness or impending doom.

We all need time to regroup and settle down. If you don’t want to do something, maybe don’t do it! Free yourself from the societal belief that you have to be busy to make your life better. Sometimes, just the opposite is true.

4. Think about whether or not you want to pass this kind of lifestyle on to your kids.

Children are busier than ever. They have a ton of activities, homework, and other obligations to juggle. But, is this really what’s best for them? Kids are capable of burning out, just like adults. And, they need downtime, the chance to be a little bored, get a bit creative, have some time to do whatever they want – it’s an important part of development.

Plus, if they don’t learn how to relax now, it’ll be that much harder to learn how to do it down the road. Is this lifestyle something you’d wish for them? If not, try modeling something different. It will likely be good for you, too.

Tell Us What You Think

How does busyness impact your life and work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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