8 Tips for Beating Busyness

Ever feel like the guy in the picture?

More and more research is proving that our always-on, multi-tasking work environments and lifestyles are dampening creativity, killing productivity, and making us unhappy.

Now, we can become victims of this reality, or we can become proactive. 

As Wilhelm von Humboldt writes, “I am more and more convinced that our happiness or our unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.” And so, here are a few tips that I’m trying to implement for beating busyness in my life:

1. Dare to slow down

Deliberately drive in the slow lane. At the toll, choose the longest line, and then let someone go in front of you. Eat your food slowly (this one is a real challenge for me). In other words, as the world moves faster, find ways to intentionally slow things down.

2. Don’t feel guilty if you feel tired and busy

In her book, The Overworked American, Harvard economist Juliet B. Schor estimated that “the average employed person is now on the job an additional 163 hours, or the equivalent of one month a year, compared to figures from twenty years ago.” So, don’t be so hard on yourself if you feel tired and busy. You should. You’re working an extra month this year.

3. Do one thing differently

In our day we have largely traded wisdom for information. We keep reading more and thinking less. I often find myself reading so many productivity and self-improvement tips, and even though all the advice is great, unless I apply it, it is just useless hollow information. Action trumps knowledge every time. So choose one thing to do differently, and go DO IT!

4. Check your email on a schedule

“It’s not effective to read and answer every email as it arrives. Just because someone can contact you immediately does not mean that you have to respond to them immediately,” says productivity guru Dan Markovitz“People want a predictable response, not an immediate response.” So as long as people know how long to expect an answer to take, and they know how to reach you in an emergency, you can answer most types of email just a few times a day.

5. Don’t leave email in your inbox

I swear by this method. Try to touch an email just once and take action on it as soon as you read it. Organize email into folders. If the message needs more thought, flag it or move it to your to-do list. If it’s for reference, print it out or send it to Evernote. If it’s a meeting, move it to your calendar.

6. Know when you work best.

I’m definitely a morning person. Each person has a best time. Manage your schedule to keep your best time free for your most important work.

7. Give your brain some downtime

Research tells us that giving your brain downtime is a critical element of learning and thinking creatively. Some of my best ideas came to me while sitting on a surfboard in the ocean.

8. Take an hour to simply “be” with God.

Don’t use this time to prepare or plan or strategize. Don’t use this time at all. Simply be with God and see what happens.

18 Replies to “8 Tips for Beating Busyness”

  1. Really liked this post. I try to simplify my life and I feel a bit guilty for it. I deleted my facebook and cancelled my cell phone to simply have a home phone. I did not like being available 24/7. I really need a time between God and I, just the two of us though.


  2. I so needed to read this today. Thank you. I slept from 3pm to 8pm yesterday, then managed to back asleep at 10.30 and slept through until the alarm went at 6am. I knew I was tired but that was unbelievable. Will definitely be trying to implement some of these strategies. 🙂


  3. I’ve found that busyness is as much a state of mind as anything. We can have very little to do and stress ourselves out – or we can feel relaxed even with a tremendously busy schedule. Your tips about slowing down are key here. Take a little time just to breathe and relax. I’ve found that’s crucial for me.


    1. I agree completely. There is a big biff erect between being busy and being hurried. You can be busy without being rushed, and you can have very little to DOAND still be stressed and hurried…


  4. Making time for God, even on my busiest of days, definitely helps me to keep things in perspective. I have to schedule this time at the beginning of my day, though, or it doesn’t happen because I get too busy and distracted!


  5. I couldn’t agree more! “take some time to be with God” that is great advice man. I don’t know anyone who does this enough, I try to find time each day to be alone and talk to God and tell him my worries. What is great about that is once I tell him my worries, when they come up again I don’t have to dwell on them. I don’t know if you meant that tip to be so religious, but my time with God allows me to let go of some of my problems, I hope that more people take some time and just be alone with God forsaking all distractions.


  6. What wonderful advice – this is a topic I’m particularly passionate about. I feel that as a whole, we are losing so many creative voices and … perhaps more importantly … the ability to be a society where people are happy and fulfilled, because we spend so much time doing what we “must” and not nearly enough reflecting, being truly with our loved ones in special everyday moments, and devoting our energies to pursuits that inspire us or make us happy. Thank you for posting this! I found your post through Katie’s menton at Coffee House Discussions, by the way.


  7. Its good to be reminded sometimes that there is an alternative to going, going, going, all day. I am a busy body mostly by necessity rather than choice. Thanks for this post.


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