“Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” – John Lennon
There have been times in my life when I believed happiness revolved around how busy I was. If I was busy, it meant using time wisely and proving my value. It was about creating the possibility of a better life in the future. That said, being busy didn’t necessarily make me feel happy. It created the illusion, I was somehow building a foundation for that feeling someday, somewhere, when I could finally slow down and be free.
Most of us are defensive of our “busyness”. We have goals to accomplish, promotions to earn, debt to eliminate, dreams to chase and hopefully along the way, people to help and inspire. We multitask, even when it means not truly being present in any activity we enjoy, and maybe even feel guilty for blocks of unplanned time in our schedules. We think we must work harder and longer than the majority, squeeze more into our day than other people, if we’re to accumulate a fortune so we can escape the labour of work as we know it.
That perception turns the present into something to endure instead of something to fully enjoy. Our working reality doesn’t have to be so painful, we can’t wait to escape it. If we follow our bliss, we can fill our days with work that stretches us, fulfills us, and awards life with a whole new level of meaning. In terms of money leading to happiness, it only works if you’re already happy. We all need to decide for ourselves what the dream really looks like. There are parts of it you have to work for, and parts that require no more than tuning into what you already have.
The irony in our tendency to do more to become more is, efficiency does not necessarily guarantee effectiveness. Completing the items on your to-do list does not inherently imply you’ve done them well. Getting more done is not an accurate barometer for measuring your impact. In fact, squeezing more into your day often detracts from your ability to be effective in each situation. What would make a day more valuable to your intentions, twenty actions which moved you one foot closer to the change you’d like to see or five actions which moved you ten feet closer?
Whenever we expel energy, it’s important to consider the law of diminishing returns. This theory states, after a certain point, increased investment will not necessarily generate proportional returns. For example, if you run a telemarketing company, and you have five phones, hiring ten employees won’t double the sales because there isn’t enough equipment to go around. In much the same way, if you spend ten hours working, but every hour after five your performance declines, half of your time will be far less effective than you intend it to be.
Being busy is a part of life, but you don’t have to let it interfere with how successful you make it. Everyone gets busy but it’s being able to turn that “busyness” into productivity. Take one thing at a time and remember no one person can do it all.