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Blog: Addicted to Busy

This topic will either make total sense to you… or not.  That is because if you are “bent” to have this addiction you will get it right away, and if not, as with any other addiction you just don’t get it.  I am writing to those who “get it” and/or those who have to live and work with those who “get it”.

Addiction is being compulsively or physiologically dependent on something habit-forming. Busy is habit-forming.   The first step with any addiction is to “own” it.  I first realized I was “addicted to busy” about eight years ago.  Someone said something very simple to me, “you know, you do not have to do all this, you bring it on yourself”.  I found myself pondering that thought.  It was not the first time I heard something like that, but it was the first time it hit home with me.  I realized no matter what I do, whether it is volunteer work, doing something for my family, or job related, I had a tendency to do more than necessary.  In some ways that is a good trait, but as with most strengths it can become a weakness.

I began to do some self-observation activities and discovered much of my self-worth was built upon what I accomplished, thinking busy somehow meant important and how this made me look in the eyes of others.  I also realized when I didn’t want to deal with something; I would get REAL busy in another area i.e. something at home, in my marriage or another work issue.  If I was busy, I should not have to deal with “it” right…?  This is a poor way to measure self.  As with any addiction, it is never satisfied.

I have found that it is helpful when I find myself in this place of “addicted to busy” to do the following:

  1. Reflect on why you need to be so busy
  2. Do some self-observation activities– this is where you observe what you are doing, make notes about it and later reflect on why/s to determine if it is an activity or behavior you want to continue
  3. What is being fulfilled inside of you by being busy?
  4. What is missing that you need to fill it up with “busy”?
  5. Set a goal that reflects valuing and feeling important without being busy – i.e. spend an hour having a conversation that has nothing to do with work or read a book for fun.  I say set a goal because I suggest only setting 1 and mastering it – anymore and you are digressing back to being busy but this time with these goals
  6. Create accountability – tell someone you trust what you are doing, give them your goal and permission to hold you accountable
  7. Once you have “mastered” this one goal, go back through 1-6 and do it all over again

The beautiful thing about life is that we are always growing and learning… we never “arrive”.  Aren’t you glad….?!  It is a journey.  Practice enjoying doing nothing - "Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary." -- Ray Knight

I would love to hear from you.  If you have found yourself “addicted to busy” or know someone who is write in and share other ways to overcome this addiction.

A colleague of mine shared something with me regarding being "addicted to busy".  This is a quote from her daughter - the most interesting part is that she is 12 years old “A day not laughed is a day wasted, no matter how much work you got done.” Hmmm, "from the mouth of babes...." ?


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