Busyness has become a badge of honor these days. We proud ourselves to be too busy. Too busy to workout, too busy to read or write or go outside for a walk, or even call a dear friend.
The sad part is we like being busy. Why? Because we have an excuse not to do all those things we silently crave for.
But what is behind this addiction to busyness?
What are we hiding?
The short answer is fear.
Yes, fear. We are afraid of failure.
Our parents, teachers, the society taught us to reject failure because it’s a shame. It’s a shame to fail in class, it’s a shame to fail or make mistakes at work.
We were taught to be perfect, to be polite, to be smart, not to speak too much, not to disagree, not to speak your mind.
As adults, we carry this fear of failure ingrained into our brains over to our lives. And you can see the “result” of that in the way we raise our children, the way we act at work, or in the community.
Acting on that fear would mean getting out of our comfort zone, and that’s where the problem lies.
We are champions when it comes to criticizing others. But when it comes to looking inside ourselves, we get scared and hide behind a busyness wall.
At a first glance, you may think the solution is simple. You just get un-busy, right?
But you forget the amygdala or the crocodile brain, that part of our brain, thousands of years old, which role is to keep us safe.
Every time you try to do something new and outside of your comfort zone, the crocodile brain says “nope, it’s not safe out there, let’s stay here where it’s warm and cozy.”
How do you fight that?
But more important, how do you fight it when you’re not aware your brain is playing hooky with you?
The answer is you don’t.
Let me explain.
Starting a “fight” with your crocodile brain is a waste of time and effort, and in the long run, it will exhaust you.
After all, your crocodile brain has thousands of years or experience, while you’ve been around for a little while.
To win this battle, you take small, apparently insignificant steps.
The Path to Freedom
It all starts with being aware that your fears are not real. They are part of a protection mechanism.
Once you acknowledge that, you move on to analyze your day and week.
What are three of the most important things you need to achieve this week to move forward with your business or job?
What are three of the most urgent things you need to do this week for your business, job, or personal life?
Next, draw a board or type into your calendar the best days for you to work on them this week, as well as the time you would need to make that happen.
Now, let’s look at the rest of your to-do list for this week. Can those tasks wait until next week?
Side note: If you identified correctly the most important and urgent things to take care of this week, the rest of the tasks on your to-do list can easily be pushed for the following week.
Don’t be in love with “only I can do this or that.” Delegate to your colleagues or team.
No, it’s not. But it’s a habit. As you get used to look at your personal and professional life this way and categorize things into important, urgent, and the rest, you will see how simple things become.
Now your busyness excuse is, even in your eyes, just that, an excuse.
From Busyness to Freedom
What should you do with all this free time you uncovered?
Let’s get back to the small steps part.
When was the last time you took a walk in nature without your smartphone to just breathe, smell the roses, and admire your surroundings?
Do that! Take a half an hour walk, and enjoy your neighborhood. Talk to the barista of your favorite coffee shop, smile at the people on the street, and most importantly, breathe.
Include these walks into your daily or weekly routine.
Now on to the next thing on your wish list: reading.
When was the last time you enjoyed a good book? Here is a wild idea, instead of buying a book and reading it at home, why not go to your local library?
Let yourself be surrounded by the smell of the books, the silence and serene atmosphere in the library. It seems like the time has stopped, isn’t it?
Choose your book, find the perfect spot and start reading. If you’re afraid you might lose track of time, put a timer on your phone and allow yourself to be sucked into the book.
Next, invite an old friend for a coffee to catch up. Use the same strategy as above to make it happen.
That’s how you insert small changes in your life. Little by little, step-by-step, you’ll discover at the end of one month you’re a new person.
You are happier, feeling more accomplished and alive as ever.
Get out of the busyness trap and start living the life you deserve.