Always ‘crazy busy’? How to escape the busy trap

Yes, we know, you’re always busy. We all are. Here’s how to create more free time and be more productive.

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A couple of weeks ago, The New York Times had a great OpEd about how busy we are.

The author, Tim Kreider, relayed a story about asking a friend to blow off work to check out the new American Wing at the Met and the friend said he was super busy, but to let him know if there was a special event or something and he’d try to make it.

Kreider said, “This is the special event. I’m inviting you to go with me.”

But the idea this friend of his would skip work just to go hang out is so foreign to a lot (most?) of us.

How many of you fall into this trap? When someone asks you how you are, you say, “OMG. I’m crazy busy!” And the person responds with, “Better than the alternative!”

The busy trap

We’ve fallen into, what Kreider calls, the busy trap.

Erica Allison explored this same idea in her blog post, Sometimes, You Just Gotta Boogie! She explains that she over-schedules her life. So much so, in fact, it’s impossible for her to enjoy life because she’s too busy getting from one thing to another.

But she had an epiphany … accidentally. Her phone’s battery died and she was stuck at a concert without the ability to tweet, Facebook, text, or take photos.

After getting over the initial shock, she said, “I’m so glad I didn’t bring my phone. I danced. I laughed. I watched with delight the world around me. I even talked to strangers”

We’re so focused on being responsive 24/7 that we forget to life our lives.

Creating less noise

Last November, our office decided to go completely virtual. We gave up our office space and the Gini Dietrich cafeteria (four-star and James Beard-winning restaurant, Naha) in favor of staff meetings via Skype and doing laundry in the middle of the day.

At first, it was hard. The computer was always on and emails were coming in at all times of the day and night.

Then the new year hit and I decided “focus” was one of my resolutions. I know, that’s broad, but I knew what it meant.

I stopped working weekends. What I discovered is, on Fridays, I would tell myself I could do whatever needed to be done over the weekend and I wasn’t productive that work day at all. It turns out, I’m more productive and efficient without weekend work.

Then we had 80 degree temperatures in March (nearly unheard of), but it was still too dark to ride at 6 a.m. So I started riding at noon. And I didn’t feel guilty about it (well, I did at first) because I was starting work around 5:00 or 5:30.

A ride at lunchtime is the perfect break. I’ve already worked six or seven hours and it gives me time to clear my head and think. Plus I’m rocking a serious cycling tan, which I wouldn’t have if I were still riding in the wee early morning hours.

And, most recently, I’ve started leaving my phone at home (gasp!) for a few hours on one day of every weekend (typically Sundays).

You know what has happened? NOTHING. The world has not fallen apart and no one misses me for a few hours.

Sure, my travel schedule still impedes my social life (five more weeks!), but overall I’m not getting caught in the busy trap.

The best part

But do you know what the best part is? I’m HAPPY. I haven’t been this happy…ever.

I’m tan, I’m in great shape, I’m racing again, my relationships are strong, and the business is growing more quickly than it has in our history.

I’m focused, I’m efficient, I’m productive, and (did I mention?) I’m happy.

How are you getting yourself out of the busy trap?

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. A version of this article originally ran on Spin Sucks.

Topics: PR

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