The Client-centred Blog
Addicted to busyness – slow down to speed up
It seems to me that, as a generalisation, business people are busier and working longer and harder than ever before.
I often get asked when meeting with someone, ‘Are you busy?’
My reply is often ‘No, not particularly’, and people say ‘Oh, I’m so sorry’, sounding sympathetic as if I had just suffered a bereavement!
People see being busy as a positive and, therefore, not being busy as a negative. But how true is this?
I guess that what we all want is to be productive in the sense that we can look back and know that:
- We used our time well and on the things that count and matter most to us
- We had a (mostly) rich, rewarding and enjoyable experience of life
Many people are insanely busy, but their experience of life is one that often feels over-burdened, rushed and reactive.
The problem with this is that more you get on this treadmill the harder it becomes to get off.
The busyness starts to become an addiction. People’s whole identity becomes tied up with it and then the thought of stopping begins to mean facing up to things that seem unpalatable (like all the other areas of their life they have been neglecting!).
Think of it like this…
If you have any experience of kids who play a lot of computer games, you will know it also means they spend a great deal of time in a very hyped up state of mind. They have to be to play the games.
So, what happens when you stop them playing? They do not like it one bit.
When I used to stop my son from playing games for too long his reaction would be ‘I’m bored!’
My reply was always the same. “Enjoy the boredom. Embrace it.”
I explained to him that boredom is not a negative thing. It is the bridge between a busy state of mind and a more peaceful state of mind.
Can you slow down to speed up?
An adviser client of mine was rushing around all over the place, travelling, seeing clients, trying to keep up with the admin this created. He often felt frazzled.
He was definitely on the treadmill and he blamed his circumstances (which always makes us feel powerless).
I explained that rather than being information about our circumstances, emotions are a feedback mechanism.
Feeling over-burdened, rushed and reactive tells us that our thinking is revved up. It has nothing to do with how much we have to do.
So, instead of a busy life creating a busy mind, it is a busy mind that makes our life feel busy.
As soon as the adviser began to catch on to how he was creating his experience through his thinking, things began to change on their own.
He got the insight that a great deal of what he was doing contributed nothing to what he was trying to achieve.
Within a few weeks he had cut his workload considerably, but his revenue had more than doubled.
Success takes work and I am not suggesting it doesn’t. But when we factor in state of mind and how we use our thinking it can be surprising how much we can slow down to speed up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Dashfield spent 14 years as a self-employed adviser. Since 2006 he has been a coach, mentor and author helping advisers create transformations in their business and personal lives.