The busy epidemic – part 1

Bev Alderson is a Mindfulness, Yoga and Stress Management Consultant. Bev works with individuals, groups and workplaces who want to take a more positive and proactive approach to enhancing wellbeing, and in turn achieve greater results.

Bev brings a unique perspective and authenticity to her work, having spent 18+ years performing high pressured management roles within the Finance and IT industries, in both the UK and Australia.

Today, through her business Practically Balanced, she draws on her experiences of performing in a business environment, and expertise in health and wellbeing, to provide training and services that can be utilised in daily life, whatever your business or life shape.

Bev completed a Diploma in Yoga with the highly respected Qi Yoga School in Sydney in 2012 and with Sivananda in India in 2015. She also completed a Certificate in Stress Management with the London Centre for Coaching and Counselling in 2014, an ILM with the Stress Management Society in 2014 and a Diploma in Meditation with the British School of Meditation in 2016.

This week and next, Bev will talk about the busy epidemic, and asked ‘why is everyone so busy?’ The obvious answer is that we have more to do and less time to do it. In reality, this is not necessarily the case.  ‘Busy’ can become a habit, a way of living, that can bring with it many unwanted side effects including feeling overwhelmed, inadequate and exhausted all the time.  

In these two blogs, Bev invites you to consider ten ways of conducting yourself and your day that, if required, may help you to break the cycle of busy and enhance your wellbeing and effectiveness.

Introduction

As I begin to write this blog, on why everyone has become so busy, I am conscious that I am behind schedule.  The irony is that I have been too busy to write it!

The second irony is that I am a high achiever that gets a buzz out of doing lots, loves helping others, and is always on the look-out for ways to learn and grow.  You could say that I am a bit of busy kind of person!

Who am I to write about understanding and tackling excessive busy-ness?

Honestly, I am someone who is naturally rubbish at it.  I have had to learn how to manage myself and my day, in order to stop the negative aspects of the busy epidemic knocking at my door.

As I take a mindful look at what’s on my action list, there are indeed some events and deadlines looming.  There is also a laundry list of activities that are of variable importance -and is the world really going to stop turning if I don’t accomplish them all today?

Unlikely. But that hasn’t stopped me slipping into busy mode where both my body and mind are receiving a – not so healthy – dose of stress hormones.  The more I get done, the more I want to get done.   Enjoying the buzz of ploughing through the ‘to do’ list, bouncing from task to task whilst ignoring the signs that I am overdoing it.  Rushing, pushing through tiredness, dipping in and out of overwhelm and feeling the call of caffeine or sugar.

Okay so I am exaggerating, but you may relate to at times feeling like this?

Whilst there are always going to be genuinely busy periods, the challenge, for some, is that every period may seem like an excessively busy one.

Busy can become a habit, a way of living, that can bring with it many unwanted side effects including feeling overwhelmed, inadequate and exhausted all the time.

Maybe you are naturally great at striking the delicate balance between managing your desires and demands, whilst managing your wellbeing at the same time.

Perhaps you think that saying you’re busy is simply a made-up term for those who believe it makes them seem important. Or for those that use it as an excuse for getting out of invitations, or from having to take on additional activities.

Or maybe you are like me, in that your nature makes you susceptible to over doing it.

Whichever camp you live in, I hope you find these articles interesting and insightful in understanding and gaining some control over the busy epidemic.

Why is everyone so busy?

It used to be that when greeting someone you might say, “how are you?” and the auto-response would be “I’m fine thanks”.  Now it’s more likely to be “I’m busy” followed by a hefty sigh.

So, what has changed and what is everyone doing to make them so busy?

It’s an interesting question and one many of us are struggling to get a personal handle on.

The obvious answer is that we have more to do and less time to do it. In reality, this is not necessarily the case.

  • The amount of time we have available each day has not changed
  • The amount of time employees are required to spend at work has not increased in recent times
  • Modern-day appliances have minimised time spent on household chores
  • Food has gone fast and convenient with dinner on the table in record time
  • The amount of time available for leisure activities, and to spend with family and friends, has apparently increased
  • Technology has meant that we get to purchase smarter and faster, and have it delivered to the door in record time
  • Information is readily available and if we need to find out anything we can simply ‘Google it’ or ask Alexa

So, if life is allegedly getting easier, or at least not getting any harder, then why are so many people feeling that there are not enough hours in the day?

One theory is that the world has become limitless and the information, options and choices available to us are also limitless.

Is it then our individual ability, or inability, to decide what we want and to set boundaries, in a limitless world, that is driving the busy epidemic?

In doing some research for this blog, I came across an article in The Times, which told the story of the tragic loss of a 21-year old intern who experienced a seizure after working a 72-hour stint.  Whilst a seizure can just happen, exhaustion may well have been a contributing factor. Following his death, a review was completed of his workload.  It was found that there was no apparent reason to warrant the excessively long hours worked.  Other than perhaps a culture of ambition and a desire to perform.

Whilst this is an extreme example, it highlights how personal drivers and characteristics can play as significant a role, as demands and responsibilities, in how busy a person is.

Another area for consideration is the utilisation and reliance on technology that has brought with it a limitless amount of modern-day white noise.

  • Newsletters, articles, offers, requests to review services and the junk mail that plagues inboxes
  • Connecting, communicating and following hundreds of people, most of whom you wouldn’t know if you passed them in the street
  • Ploughing through endless social media feeds
  • Checking messages, reading and responding to requests day and night
  • Shopping, doing admin and banking 24 x 7
  • Multiple mediums of communication and applications that result in never-ending notifications and pings
  • ‘Numbing-out’ in front of the TV, flicking through channels or playing video games

The list goes on and you probably have a few more you can add that keep you on the hamster wheel?

Again, isn’t it a personal choice how much time and energy is spent on these types of activities?

I doubt that most people set out to dedicate so much of their day to being busy, whilst compromising their wellbeing and enjoyment of life. But without taking the time to plan and set boundaries, in a noisy and limitless world, this may have become an unconscious choice.

Modern life has allowed the edges between doing and downtime to become incredibly blurred.  Days can so easily be extended to try and get it all done, well past the point of being fully productive and where wellbeing can be maintained.

Rushing from task to task and through life without a clear plan can chew up already depleted energy, leaving you running out of time and running out of steam.

I liken this to operating in crisis mode and for me it is the driving force behind the busy epidemic.

How much time is busy saving you?

We have all heard the story of the tortoise and the hare or the phrase, “less haste more speed”.

But one I heard recently, from someone who did a speed awareness course, really brought this home to me and got me to explore the concept in more detail.

If you were to set out on a 60-mile journey by car at an average speed of 70 miles per hour, versus 80 miles per hour or 90 miles per hour, how much time would you save?

Ignoring traffic conditions, at 70 miles per hour you would reach your destination in 51.4 minutes, 80 miles per hour in 45 minutes and 90 miles per hour in 40 minutes.  So, the answer is not a lot.1

Being in busy mode can result in feeling that you need to rush, or in this case speed, but this seldom yields dividends.  Rather just the feelings associated with being under pressure and stressed.  Not to mention in this instance the possible unwanted invitation to attend a speed awareness course yourself, or worse.

Slowing down can be challenging if you have a habit of rushing, and may seem counterproductive.  However, in the absence of stress hormones pumping, both the mind and body function more optimally; this in itself will enable you to get more done and to feel better whilst you are doing it.

A good question to ask yourself, if you catch yourself speeding through life, is “Am I rushing because I am busy or am I busy because I am rushing?”

How to counteract the busy epidemic?

In a limitless world that has no boundaries – how do you begin to better manage your time and wellbeing more effectively?

There will always be periods in life where, no matter how good you are at managing yourself and your time, it will be difficult, if not impossible, not to be busy. But for the most part, there is plenty that can be done.

We have seen that the reasons for operating in busy mode can be both individual and complex, perhaps driven by: –

  • The desire to be successful
  • To be enough
  • To be of service
  • To gain reward and recognition
  • To keep up with others
  • Or simply to keep up with the fast pace of the modern world

Understanding, or deepening your understanding of, your personal drivers may be a useful exercise in beginning to tackle it.

For the purpose of this blog, I am going to invite you this week and next to consider ten ways of conducting yourself and your day that, if required, may help you to: –

  • Break the cycle of busy
  • Enhance your wellbeing and effectiveness

You may also learn a little more about yourself along the way! This week’s blog covers the first step – understanding how you spend your time – and then next week we will look at ways to find more time!

  1. Understand how you spend your time

Each one of us has the same amount of time allotted to us each day – fact.

Once you take away the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, allow time for the essentials like eating, hydrating and going to the bathroom, we each have about 14 hours a day left to play with.

Might sound obvious, but a great way to start to understand how you can better manage your time is to get a handle on how you are actually spending it. The best way to do this I find is to create a time diary.

Over a normal week, or two, document exactly how you spend your time.

Doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just a notebook, where you can record your daily activities and sleep time, will do the trick.  Or if you want to be more structured in your approach, you might like to create a 24-hour table in 30-60 minute increments that you fill out each day.

Look out for the following and more:

  • Are you more energetic and get more done on certain days of the week or in the morning or afternoons?
  • Which activities do you gravitate towards first or leave until the last minute?
  • Do you take on more than you are able to cope with and if so why?
  • How much time do you spend writing and rewriting lists or paper shuffling?
  • Do you have ‘dead time’ in the day, for instance time on public transport?
  • How much time do you spend on white noise or time-wasting activities?
  • Where do you compromise your wellbeing and effectiveness, such as not taking breaks, not taking on the right fuel, not getting enough exercise or sleep?
  • Do you make time for the people you care about and the things that matter to you?
  • Do you find it challenging when you are quiet and there is space to just “be”?

A time diary can be a great way to understand how you spend your time.  It can also be a powerful way of observing your habits and patterns, when energy is highest, time wasting activities, strengths and areas for improvement.

In the second part of this blog next week, we will look at ways to find more time.


With many thanks to Bev for this blog; if you have any questions regarding the health topics that have been raised, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Clare via phone; 01684 310099 or e-mail [email protected]


Relevant Cytoplan Products

L-theanine – an amino acid, found in tea leaves, that is used to support the relaxation response, sleep quality and memory.

Biofood Magnesium – an essential mineral that is a cofactor for over 300 enzymes. Our Food State magnesium tablets are combined in a base of inactive Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5)  – a member of the vitamin B family, B5 helps the body convert food into energy. It also helps maintain a healthy digestive tract and can improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions.

Ashwagandha – used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Organic Ashwagandha comes at a potency of 500mg per capsule. Legislation prohibits us from talking about the herbs, however there is a wealth of information available online.

Bacopa Monnieri – used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa Monnieri comes at a potency of 500mg per capsule. Legislation prohibits us from talking about the herbs, however there is a wealth of information available online.


References

  1. https://mindyourdecisions.com/blog/2011/09/30/how-much-time-does-speeding-save/

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

16 thoughts on “The busy epidemic – part 1

  1. Hi,
    I realised that when I stay away from TV and do instead things I like to do, I always have enough time. I also limit my internet / email time to 1 hour per day, but there are exceptions when responding needs more time. This way I don’t take in too much negative information and I’m protecting my eyes. I’m not wearing glasses nor lenses and I’m retired. Without so much bla-bla my life is lighter, more positive and I can do my exercises, hobbies and going outdoors because I have time for it. I understand that for the working people it is more difficult to manage time. However social media has taken over many lives what makes me sad as it is a virtual thing. Is life/reality so unbearable that it makes many people fleeing in a virtual and often “unreal” world? Is there still communication at home or are all staring at their phone or computer?
    Hermine Mann

  2. Some things might sound obvious but I think most of us good benefit from reading this article – Just preparing my time diary! Can’t wait for part 2 next week

  3. What an interesting blog. I’ve realised for quite some time, I can be not only busy in my head but this feeling of as it says in the blog ‘busy rushing’, so thank you for pointing this out. For me, it feels like the area to work on will be ‘not enough’..
    Much appreciated
    Beverley B

  4. Thank you for such a fascinating article and I certainly will start a time diary as I know I waste alot of time during the day and then beat myself up for not achieving what I want to get done! For the last month after reading Dr Chattergee’s book The 4 Pillars of Health, I consciously have got a a cut off time for my iPad and phone at 6.30pm. I am sure having read this article I will re evaluate my time and how to use it more profitably.
    I have also enjoyed reading previous comments especially Hermine’s really sensible approach

    1. Hi Lesley, great you enjoyed the article and it sounds like you have made some really positive step already. Hope the diary proved useful. Bev

  5. An interesting article, tho’ I do not/cannot connect to any of its content, however much I wish I could! My experience is so very different, and for the foreseeable future the modus operandi is apparently set in stone.
    My own 24/7 day’s constant ‘busyness’ is dictated by relentless government financial edicts; my 90-year-old husband needing care for 9-12 hrs every day; as main carer, barely any outside help to manage the running of the house; a prison-like, housebound incarceration year after year at home; my advancing years, multiple physical disabilities and rapidly escalating ill-health; plus our long-term valued friends now all deceased, and therefore an absence of emotional support, connection and friendship from fellow-humans to nurture mind, spirit or soul.
    And with a multiplicity of escalating (man-made) health epidemics stemming from vested interests, there are hundreds of thousands of us – the elderly housebound – in every city who are non-stop busy, stressed, exhausted and deprived of choice, by what just has to be done endlessly day-by-day.
    There are so many other reasons for non-communication, alas, apart from the prevailing grip of technology on both young and old.

    1. Hi Moyra, I hope you recognise that the blog was not aimed at someone who is experiencing such extreme and difficult circumstances as you clearly are. I am genuinely sorry to read the long list of challenges you are facing and wish I could offer some real support. My only suggestion would be to engage the Samaritans who may be able to direct you to some supportive resources. Best of luck and take care. Bev

  6. This article describes me to a T!… I work in a high-pressure profession, and often find ways to procrastinate when big deadlines are looming to help deflect the sense of overwhelm I sometimes feel. This in turn causes the pressure to escalate and I end up taking work home to complete.. though in reality I generally have enough time in my working day to do what I need to do. Ultimately this leaves me feeling constantly busy.. but really it’s just an issue of time management & being mindful & realistic my time and goals to better balance work and ‘me’ time. Thanks for an insightful read!!

    1. Hi Amber, you may well be my long lost twin! Glad the article was insightful and hope the second part hits the mark too. Bev

  7. Busy and operating in crisis mode is the way for so many of us. And its exhausting! I always have a long list of things, personal and work related, that I need to do – deadlines, emails, things to order, to book, to pay for etc and even the pleasurable things in life become part of the to do list – walk the dog, go to yoga, see so-and-so for a drink/dinner. Then collapse. I am even now finding it hard to leave my computer screen for a fear that I might receive an email that I don’t respond to immediately and that will somehow reflect badly on me. I feel constantly guilty for not doing enough. I definitely need a time diary and to appreciate the things I do achieve, rather than always focussing on the things I don’t manage to accomplish! Thank you for the article to remind us that we are not the only ones feeling this way and to make us stop and think that there might be another way too.

    1. Thanks for your openess and honesty and glad the article served as a useful reminder. Hope part 2 provides some helpful suggestions in reigning in busy. Bev

We'd love your comments on this article
It's easy, just post your questions, comments or feedback below

Names will be displayed as entered. Your email address will not be published. Required *