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Some of us are living our lives on autopilot, racing around from one engagement to another. So much so that being so busy seems like the path to success and a fulfilled life. From one presentation, to reviewing emails to working on one or two more projects – the list goes on. But without time to reflect, an ominous outcome is just around the corner. Has it ever occurred to us that we may be busy quite all right, but for the wrong reasons?  
If being so busy is prioritizing what matters most, addressing short terms goals while ensuring it aligns with long term goals. If it establishes routines that helps achieve goals even when they are not the most pleasant things to do at the time, then it’s worth it. But there are times when being so busy leads to nowhere in particular. I can share a few instances from my experience interviewing professionals, working with, and observing people. 


There is an assumption in some quarters that being so busy and not available connote a sought-after class of people going home with fat checks and benefits. That is why a professional will project his/herself as busy, and proudly tell others same. It is an honour to be “seen” as being a part of that exclusive sought-after league of busy extra-ordinary ladies and gentlemen. They wear their “busyness” like a badge. When people are in this mode, they will go out of their way to create work for themselves, whether it aligns with their goals or instrumental to their career progression. What matters is that they are seen as ‘crazy busy,” which boosts their self-esteem. 


I should use an example to explain this point. A young Financial Analyst lost her husband about 5 years ago and is yet to overcome that tragedy. Her colleagues, siblings and parents have advised her to address the situation head on. Consult a therapist to help with healing, attend social events, and meet new people. She would rather not. Her solution? Fill up her calendar with so much work to keep her busy to the extent she cannot spend time alone, together with friends, go on dates, or even initiate therapy. Her goal is to drown all forms of negative emotions and replace that with work. People in this situation know the right thing to do, but they will not do it. The right thing is usually the toughest and hardest task to do although it pays off big time. That young lady may be keeping herself busy, but she is setting herself up for depression. 


In this information-based economy, there is information overload everywhere. We are always on. Social media has ensured that this is the case. And what is the impact of this information explosion? It has made our concentration span decline drastically. So, you will find people apportioning time to a plethora of information sources and not getting much done despite being so busy. Focusing on one thing has become much harder these days. Even social media platforms have adjusted to this reality, as their products and services have adapted to this fact.  

But we can change our perspective on what being so busy should look like. If we have a wrong definition of what it should mean, then subconsciously, we will make decisions that will lead to us in that direction. This is where clarity comes in. You need to get clear on what really matters and plan assiduously on executing them. Learn to prioritize as well amid competing deliverables. Because you work from home does not mean you cannot log off work by 5pm. Set boundaries, timelines and stick to them. It makes you more focused, efficient, and creative with the time you have got at your disposal. 

Finally, it is always a clever idea to keep an eye on the big picture. If it is not doing you any good regarding get focused on what matters, what gets you ahead, and enables you to strike a work-life balance, then you need to reconsider discontinuing them.