Live, August 19, 2019

The Busyness Trap

We can sometimes wear busyness like a badge of achievement, when in actual fact, it’s just diverting our attention away from the things that truly matter.

When we have a deadline, we tend to go into overdrive. Our adrenalin kicks in and we can become ridiculously productive.

Often, not only do we power through work – ticking tasks off like we’re some sort of efficiency ninja (I’m visualising an actual ninja karate kicking tasks off a board here…), but we also power through life – replying to comms that have been left for weeks, getting on top of the housework for once, even finding time for those tasks that are always on the bottom of the to-do list like to cleaning out the Tupperware cupboard draw, or re-organising our desktops so we can actually find things.

Shit it feels good. Energy makes energy, what you put out into the world comes back to you and that feels amazing. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could to find a way to stay here – to stay in this insanely productive zone, to keep working at this pace, to actually become superwoman.

But the reality is, what goes up needs to also come back down. And as important as it is to get ourselves into overdrive sometimes to meet deadlines or power through projects, it’s also really important to put the brakes on. We are all different, and have different levels of energy, but no matter who you are or what you do, we all need to take a break.

But, taking a break can be harder than you think.


Because we like the feeling of achieving – it feels great to be successful. It feels good to keep moving, and flowing and accomplishing things. When you stop, you are forced to re-connect with yourself, to check back in with what you need, to deal with the deeper things that are easy to push away when you are busy.

As important as it is to grind, to push and move fast and achieve and tick things off your to do list, it’s equally important to stop. To take a break, to breath, to let your heart lead for awhile. To let your subconscious communicate with you again, which it can’t always do when you are stressed and always running from one thing to the next.

We can sometimes wear busyness like a badge of achievement, when in actual fact, it’s just diverting our attention away from the things that truly matter.

So how do you deal with our ever changing environment that requires us to move both fast and slow? To sometimes operate in overdrive and sometimes put the brakes on?

Here are a few simple tips.

1. Be aware – simply observe how you feel when you are in superwoman mode or when your body is in rest and repair mode. See how your body feels, what thoughts are on your mind, what your sleep is like, how much energy you have.
2. Manage transitions – if you have been working towards a deadline, or if a projects come to an end, plan in something nice that helps you move from overdrive to downtime so you don’t ‘fall’ into a slump. It’s actually really hard to successfully move from crazy deadline zone to back to a more normal pace.
3. Know that downtime is so much more than Netflix and chill. When we have been busy we often want to numb our active mind, which is totally understandable. Netflix is great for this! But so is meditating, practising yoga, going for a walk, journaling, connecting with a friend or taking a nap.
4. Ask for help when things get busy. Can someone help you watch the kids so you can get some extra work done, can your partner take on some more of the household tasks, can you leave that pile of washing?
5. Communicate – let people around you know that you are busy right now and might seem a bit stressed. Stress cleaning the kitchen, or doing the vacuuming aggressively isn’t an effective way to communicate to your partner that you need help 🙂
6. Start to incorporate tools and techniques into your life now – like meditation, yoga Nidra and journaling – that help you re-connect to you and allow your stress hormones to calm the F down. By learning them now, they will be so much easier to incorporate into your life when things heat up.

To sum up, it isn’t bad to work hard, in fact it’s really important to be able to switch gears and power through work and life to meet deadlines, but it’s really important we don’t stay there all the time.

When it comes to our hormones, we have been designed to be able to push hard when we need to – our ancestors needed the hit of adrenalin to escape from the Sabre-tooth tiger but they couldn’t maintain this level of stress all day long. We need to sometimes push, but we also need to rest. When we stay in the fight or flight mode for too long it pushes up our cortisol levels, which then plays havoc with the rest of our hormones. And no one wants hormone havoc.

So work hard, play hard but rest hard too. We go up and down, we move fast and slow, and this is what makes life interesting, we just need to be aware of these different modes so we can manage them best for ourselves, our work and most importantly those around us.

Image Credit: Bas van Est, Robert-Bye, Jared Rice

+ Show Comments