I recently came across a site called The 99 Percent, and awhile ago the feed linked to a blog called Don’t confuse overwhelmed with busy (found on 365 Less Things). The title got me thinking about what I find overwhelming and when I feel busiest. What I discovered is that these two can sometimes be one and the same. In fact, I often find myself overwhelmed by my sense of ‘busy-ness’.
It starts off innocently enough. A couple of projects at work, one to-do list with a few things on it at home. No problem! But before I know it, the few projects at work have become ten projects with immediate deadlines and the to-do list at home is getting longer and longer. It’s official: I am busy! But more than that, I feel overwhelmed with how busy I’ve become, and I am no longer busy with work but I am busy feeling overwhelmed. Consequently, no work gets done… and you can see the cycle that can ensue.
When this happens, I sometimes find it hard to get back down to business and regain control of my life. Sometimes, I try to tackle a few quick projects so I can see tangible results quickly and feel encouraged that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, I go for a run to clear my head and shut off all the noise, even if only for a little while, so that when I come back to ‘real’ life I can refocus and re-prioritize on the tasks at hand.
But sometimes, when things get really interesting, I do the most counter-intuitive thing I can think of: I stop and take one giant step back. Completely. For one whole day, I try very hard not to do any projects and not to make any additions to my to-do list. It’s almost like a tiny vacation or a little out-of-mind experience – I just take a step back and force myself to stop being busy…being busy.