August 1, 2013, 6:00 am

Do You Have to Be Busy Every Single Second?

by: MD    Category: Miscellaneous
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“I’m on summer vacation!”

That’s what I told my friends the other day. Then I went back to throwing the frisbee around with some new friends in the park. I love the summer.

Last summer, I don’t think I took much time to throw a frisbee around or to appreciate anything.

I used to have to fill up every single second of my day with something to do. I realized that I was just dying to be busy. I always had to be doing something. I couldn’t just relax. I had to be on my laptop doing some sort of work.

I drove my last two girlfriends (two years each) crazy when we dated. I always had to be doing something (work-related).

I’ve come to notice that this is a curse. The curse of being busy.

Do you always have to be busy?

Are you someone that always has to be doing something? Do you actually stop to chat with a friend when you pass them by?

Lifehacker wrote this article that suggests, being busy always is a sign of procrastination.

When I first read The 4-Hour Workweek, I figured out that there was a huge difference between being busy and actually getting things done. But I barely improved. The curse had hit me and there was no letting go. Back to being busy!

The curse of being busy.

We live in an era that’s all about productivity and efficiency. You have to schedule in an appointment with your brother via Facebook. Everything has to be efficient. Going for a coffee with a friend just isn’t efficient enough. It takes up too much time. You guys should be working on something instead of hanging out.

I really feel that it’s a curse.

When you’re always striving to be busy, you miss out on the following:

  • Good time with friends.
  • Reflection.
  • Life.
  • Family.
  • Staying in shape.
  • Cooking (you’re too busy to cook).
I’m sure there’s tons more that I missed out on.

How do you cure the need for staying busy?

Is there a cure? I believe that there actually is. The three following tips have really helped me out with filing this need of always wanting to be busy.

You get important things done.

I have the following posted on my wall:

“Are you inventing things to do to avoid doing the important?”

Whenever I’m wasting time on YouTube or pretending to be productive, I look at this. Why sit in front of the computer pretending to be busy when you could actually try something like crazy, like, maybe go for a bike ride?

The classic 80/20 analysis is key here. What activities will generate the most revenue for you? What can you cut out?

Most of us can cut out email and lots of other pointless stuff that we force ourselves to do.

If you get the important things done first, you won’t feel the need to always be busy. Sitting in front of your laptop for 8 hours doing nothing isn’t more productive than one hour of solid writing where you’re totally in the zone.

The main takeaway here is: plan one important thing that you want to do for that day. Do it. Don’t worry about minor things. Try not to create small jobs just to fill out a day.

Oh, and please don’t include laundry or cleaning. These are things that you’re supposed to do! You need clean pants and a clean room.

Appreciate the fun times.

Stop feeling guilty over having fun! It’s not against the law. The busy police won’t come after you if you go for a bike ride or throw a frisbee around. They won’t hand you out a fine for smiling. It’s okay to soak in the sun and enjoy a good time.

Hang around positive people.

When your friends are all negative, you won’t even feel like hanging out with them. You won’t even feel good about yourself. I suggest that you rid yourself of all toxic people.

When you associate with a vibrant group of friends, you’ll always feel good and never regret meeting up with them.

[Final note: today is the first day of August. Let’s make this last month of August count!]

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” — John Lennon

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Am in the middle of reading the 4-Hour Workweek, its like epiphany after epiphany(beating myself why I didn’t read it earlier, would have saved me a lot of unnecessary efforts). I don’t think we ought to be busy every second, infact as you point out its counter-productive. I think we achieve more when we take breaks and reflect/think about what we are doing, whether we can do it more efficiently and gain more from it.
I also used to be obsessed with always doing something (well, after some “serious” work I would drift to cute cat videos), right now though, I take breaks, meditate, hit the gym and I can say it has really improved the quality, quantity and rewards from my efforts!

I have this problem. I always want to be busy because when I’m not it feels weird. I have been trying to relax more. Yes, sometimes watching tv is not productive, but it helps me relax. The important thing is to find balance.