Are you addicted to being busy?

Do you feel that you have constant competing demands in your life?

Do you check emails first and last thing in the day?

Do you feel guilty if you ‘switch off’ or take time out from doing anything productive?

Have you noticed that when you ask people how they are, a standard response often comes back as ‘Good thanks, I’m so busy’?

It almost seems like we rate the importance of our lives by how busy we are – as if this is a good thing.

 It seems that ‘busy’ has become more than a state of being these days. It’s almost a state of mind and may be a way of keeping feelings of emptiness at bay as well as a ploy to avoid having time to think or reflect.

What is driving this need for constant, competing demands? Are we choosing to be so busy or is it the result of unrelenting demands from our workplace, families and friends? And what is it that people feel that they’re missing out on if they stop being so busy and just ‘be’?

Professor Jane Fisher, the Jean Hailes Professor of Women’s Health at Monash University, says that when people have an excessive sense of being busy, they may fear standing still. “But without periods of quietness, creativity is stifled,” she says. “It’s often in the quiet moments that big ideas emerge and solutions to difficult problems are found.”

Feeling constantly in demand can be seductive.  While it may feel unrelenting, it can also increase a sense of being connected, valuable and important.

Emails and text messages are an increasing problem as they can blur the boundaries between professional and private spaces, and continue across time zones.  Many people feel submerged under an avalanche of incoming mail and unable to respond in a timely and efficient manner.

Because we often schedule much of our time and our children’s time, perhaps we’ve forgotten that it’s normal to feel bored sometimes to be idle some of the time and that it’s good to take time to sit and think or daydream.

According to Professor Fisher, you need to give yourself permission at times to sit still, be quiet and to quieten your inner sense of urgency.

Sometimes it can be worrying to do this and not to be busy, but it can be very useful to reassess what role being busy plays in your life and whether there are important longer-term life goals that are being forgotten.

Taking time for reflection is healthy and maybe we should try not to think about idleness as a luxury, but rather a necessity we need to build into our lives. After all, we want to be able to look back on our lives in the future and feel that we lived it well, spent time with our loved ones and did the things we wanted to do – not what we had to do.

Maybe we could all do with a bit more time for reflection and idleness (minus the guilt) to let ideas and possibilities percolate to the surface of our minds.

For more information on women’s health from Jean Hailes CLICK HERE