The busyness of addiction

“What the hell are you doing?” My wife’s question startled me. Now to be fair, it was 3 a.m. and I was sitting in front of my computer in my underwear. (Sorry for the unpleasant visual.) I had woken up in the middle of night convinced that I hadn’t responded to an important email from my employer. As it turned out I had, but seeing that I was up, I decided to work on a small writing assignment.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

— Socrates, ancient Athenian

philosopher

“What the hell are you doing?”

My wife’s question startled me. Now to be fair, it was 3 a.m. and I was sitting in front of my computer in my underwear. (Sorry for the unpleasant visual.) I had woken up in the middle of night convinced that I hadn’t responded to an important email from my employer. As it turned out I had, but seeing that I was up, I decided to work on a small writing assignment.

My wife was not impressed. And when I tried to explain the logic behind sitting in front of a computer in your underwear at three in the morning, she threw up her hands, turned and went back to bed.

OK. I admit it. I’m a recovering addict. For years, I was addicted to busyness. I can’t say that I’m totally free of the affliction, but it has become somewhat easier to mitigate since I began my journey of building self-esteem. You see, for years I kept busy so that I wouldn’t have to look at the mess I’d made of my life. I was living in a place of fear and denial. As odd as it might sound, for me, busyness had become a form of procrastination. I had an excuse. There was simply no time for rest, reflection or reassessment. I was busy being busy.

In a New York Times article entitled The Busy Trap, columnist Tim Kreider says many “busy” people have a need to “perceive themselves as busy as a means of justifying their existence.” In Kreider’s view, our busyness defines who we are — it helps establish our personal value. This can be a dangerous and debilitating belief. And most of us, according to Kreider, are completely out of work/life balance and suffering because of it. Kreider’s recommendation? Stop valuing busyness as a positive. Until we see busyness for the thief that it is, we’ll never break the cycle.

We’re all given the same allotment of time each day, so why is it that some people seem to get so much more out of their 24 hours than others do? As Kreider suggests, this imbalance often plays itself out with work. For some, the busyness of work can become all-consuming. Now don’t get me wrong. Some of us are building businesses and fortunate enough to derive fulfillment or even a sense of purpose from what we’re doing, but most folks are just exchanging hours for dollars and there is a limited number of hours available to exchange.

We’ve all heard it said (when it comes to time) that quality is more valuable than quantity. So how do we create quality?

How do we generate the most value for each hour and earn the highest return?

Recently, I celebrated a milestone: 10 years of writing, coaching and teaching about self-esteem. To me, it was quality time. I pursued my passion and followed my dream, and I know I’m a better person for it. I can tell you from personal experience that the more confident and empowered we feel, the more likely we are to make good use of our time.

There’s a wonderful quote by Peter Drucker, the Austrian-born American writer, management consultant and former professor at New York University on the topic of busyness that reads, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

There’s certainly a difference between the two. You can do a lot of things efficiently yet still not be very effective. Here’s a quick and simple litmus test. If you’re following through on all of your tasks but you’re not getting the results you desire, you’re likely not very effective.

That said, here are a few things I’ve learned about controlling the busyness.

Prioritize. Ask yourself, if you could complete only one task today, which task would have the most impact on your personal growth or, if at work, on the profitability of your organization. When the answer comes (and it will) you can add those less urgent but still important tasks to your daily list and return to them when the high-priority tasks have been completed.

Plan. Each morning, sit down and plan out your day.

Too many times I’ve found myself still sitting at my desk at 6 p.m. trying to figure out just what (if anything) I’d accomplished. Here’s the truth: the more intentional you are, the more you’ll accomplish.

The hours in your day are much too valuable to be squandered or subjected to unpredictability.

Produce. We are each most productive at a certain time of the day. Some of us do our best work in the morning. Some in the afternoon. As a night owl, I tend to do my best work in the evenings. It’s when I do most of my writing. My second-most productive time is the morning, so that’s when I try to get most of my job-related work accomplished and when I wear pants.

I’m left to ponder the truth in a quotation by Indian poet, Vipin Panwar that reads, “There’s no such thing as being too busy. If you really want something, you’ll make time for it.”

If busyness has kept you from doing what should be important, ask yourself why. And while you’re at it, think of those times when you accomplished the most. Likely, it wasn’t simply a matter of having enough time. No, it was likely because you also had the focus, fuel and the tools you needed to accomplish what you set out to accomplish. We’ve all started our day with the best of intentions and ended it by wondering where all the time has gone. Here’s a little insight: the same thing can happen with your life if you’re not careful. Use your time wisely.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His recent book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Olds College logo
Olds College to host free, online agriculture celebration next month

Olds College will host a free live-streamed agriculture event next month. The… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt were awarded with Meritorious Service Medals by the Governor General for co-founding the Lacombe-based charity A Better World. The agency’s goal is to reduce poverty and boost education in Africa and Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Co-founders of Lacombe-based charity receive one of Canada’s highest honours

Eric Rajah, Brian Leavitt of A Better World are honoured by the Governor General

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Dallas Stars' Mark Pysyk (13) and Tampa Bay Lightning's Ondrej Palat (18) compete for control of a loose puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) grabs a loose puck as Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot (8) and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) battle for the rebound during first-period NHL hockey action Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2021, file photo, Creighton coach Greg McDermott watches the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler in Indianapolis. McDermott apologized publicly Tuesday, March 2, for using insensitive language in his postgame locker room talk with players and staff following a loss over the weekend. In a tweet, McDermott said he used a “terribly inappropriate analogy in making a point about staying together as a team despite the loss.” (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Creighton coach McDermott apologizes for ‘plantation’ remark

Creighton coach McDermott apologizes for ‘plantation’ remark

WHL’s B.C. Division clubs cleared to play in Kamloops and Kelowna bubble environments

WHL’s B.C. Division clubs cleared to play in Kamloops and Kelowna bubble environments

World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women’s World Cup to next year

World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women’s World Cup to next year

Sean Burke speaks at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The Montreal Canadiens have made another change to their coaching staff, appointing Burke to take over as the director of goaltending. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Montreal Canadiens appoint Sean Burke as director of goaltending

Montreal Canadiens appoint Sean Burke as director of goaltending

The Toronto Arrows line up ahead of their Major League Rugby game in Toronto on April 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Toronto Arrows train under the bubble before heading south of the border

Toronto Arrows train under the bubble before heading south of the border

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson watches her shot against Team Ontario in the final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., on February 28, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson, Brad Gushue team up for national mixed doubles championship

Kerri Einarson, Brad Gushue team up for national mixed doubles championship

Most Read