The Modern Disease of Busyness

In the world today you’d be forgiven for thinking we can all take it a little easy. It’s bullshit. Let’s look at the world today:
  • We have access to the most amazing technology
  • The standard of living for most of us in incredible
  • Most of us don’t have to worry about our next meal or being hunted
  • Our education has surpassed those that came before us (doesn’t mean we all use that amazing education)
  • Most of us get to choose what we do for a living
  • Some people get to choose where and when we work
  • Communication means some barriers to entry are gone for good
  • Our live expectancy has dramatically increased
You get the idea. Honestly, that list could be a mile long – and that’s just with the stuff I can think of. So why is it then…..
  • we are busier then ever
  • most people spend less time with their loved ones than before
  • our tempers are shorter
  • some people are more frustrated in their chosen industries
  • crime is increasing in some area (especially cyber / white collar crime)
  • we have bigger issues with drugs, alcohol and obesity
Again – the list could go on and on, but it would be too depressing for me to write!
Let’s look at the meaning of Disease and Busyness.
Disease – a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.
Busyness – the state of being or appearing to be actively engaged in an activity.
Put them both together and you feel like shit – that’s my technical term for it.
The Disease of Busyness
“For fast-acting relief, Try slowing down.” Lily Tomlin
So then we get the ‘slow movement’. Well, I for one don’t resonate with that, I would rather find a happy medium.
Let’s take a look inside my world, and I’ll share with you why this is such an issue for me at the moment. You see, I suffer from the Disease of Busyness and I am working on finding my own cure. Maybe just maybe, some of what I say will help you find your own, because I don’t believe for 1 second that there is a one size fits all model, no pill that Pfizer can come up with that when prescribed ‘take 2 with a mean, twice a day till finished’ will cure you of the Disease of Busyness.
I remember being a teenager – many moons ago (ok it just feels like it, but let’s face it, it was last century). Now I was a fairly normal teen, doing fairly normal teen things (or so I thought).
At one point this was my week:
Monday – school, private dance lessons
Tuesday – school, private singing lessons
Wednesday – school, rehearsal for musical
Thursday – school, rehearsal for musical
Friday – school, usually a performance
Saturday – rehearsals with The Australian Opera, teaching at a performing arts school, my own classes then usually a performance at night
Sunday – rehearsals with either the band I was in for a tour, the show group I was in, or my own for private gigs
I’ll add that I maintained an academic scholarship at the private girls school I was at, and did a minimum of 1 hours singing practise a day on top of everything. How I managed to stay obese doing that much activity is beyond me.
Then I left school. I won’t bore you with all the details, but from 18-31 this is what my life looked like. Day job, business on the side, study, performing, recording, hosting radio show, touring……sometimes all of them at the same time.
I remember one day when I was working during the day, did a gig till 1am, then got up and hosted a breakfast radio show at 4am, and lets not forget recording an album till 4am every morning while working full time. WTF. Coffee, my friend, how I needed you. xxx
These day, yes, I love my business, and I have lots of flexibility, but I’m still so bloody busy all the time. Speaking, some accounting work, writing, networking, coaching, building programs, social media, being a single mum, carer to my mother…blah blah blah, I’m bored and exhausted now.
Now, I don’t say any of this to brag – I say it so you have an idea of how indoctrinated I am in living with the Disease of Busyness. It’s been my normal. A few weeks a go I took a really hard look at my business, and reflected on why it was I was struggling to launch some things, had issues with changing some pricing structures, difficulty letting go of some clients and feeling like I was treading water. Then it hit me like a 10 tonne truck.
I WAS ADDICTED TO THE DISEASE OF BUSYNESS
It’s like the person addicted to lactose, who can’t stop having milk in their coffee. I didn’t know any better, I covered up the disease be being organised, great at systematising things, smiling lots and feeding of the words people would say to me. yes, my ego was heavily invested in this. When people would say ‘I don’t know how you do it all’, ‘it’s amazing how you manage everything’, ‘supermum’, ‘you always achieve so much’, ‘you do such a marvellous job’, and one woman who is so dear to my heart who always tells me ‘Sam, you do so well at everything you do, I can’t imagine you ever failing’ has been a whopper for me. How on earth could I give something up, let something slip or change direction without changing her thoughts of me???
Who the F would I be, if I wasn’t so busy? Now asking this question scared the bejesus out of me. I’ll tell you who I’d be.
  • I spend all the time I want with loved ones
  • I wouldn’t spend half my life checking schedules and To Do Lists
  • I’d only concentrate on growing the parts of by business I truly love
  • I might go on a date more than once in a blue moon
Most importantly, I wouldn’t be showing my daughter how to manage with the disease of busyness. That’s #1 to me. We don’t have to be so busy, and I don’t want her to think it’s the norm. Sure we have to work. We have to make money. We have responsibilities, but we do not have to be ‘supermum’ all the time. I’m ditching my cape. It’s funny, looking at my many issues with this disease, I think – who the hell then am I to teach people how to Ditch It, Delegate It, Leverage It and Live It? Who the hell do I think I am helping people to Start, Grow or Master their own Smart Not Hard Business? I’ll tell you who! I’m the right person. I’ve mastered time management, productivity, leverage, outsourcing, delegation, systematising etc etc etc – I had to, otherwise I would have fallen into a heap at 21!!! Now the plan for me, as I turn the corner and knock on the door to 40 years of age is only concentrating on the parts of my business I truly ruly love, and building them and only them with passion. The rest of it, can go take a flying leap. I’m scared, I have to tell you. It means no more inventing new programs every five minutes and actually just relaunching and touching up what is there. It means stopping trying to be on top of all of the current trends and changes in the world of entrepreneurs and just doing what I need to do for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be working lots – but it will be less scattergun and more of what I teach. Only work on the stuff that has you living in your Zone of Genius. My current To Do List includes learning how to meditate….seriously, I’ve made it a To Do and phone a friend every day. I want those things to just be natural parts of my days.
So here are my 10Top Tips for Beating the Modern Disease of Busyness. Remember, I am a work in progress, so if I come up with something better I’ll let you know.
FIRSTLY
Map out everything (and I mean everything) you do for a minimum of 7 days. Then ask yourself what are the things you love doing, hate doing, feel you have to do and finally don’t really care one way or the other about.
  1. Say no to a minimum of 1 thing a day. This can be something as simple as meeting for a coffee after school drop of. Your torn, you want to catch up with someone – they asked you, but you know you’ll feel better if you finish that task you wanted done this morning, and know deep inside that if you say yes, you’ll be grumpy because it sets you back an hour. As long as you don’t say no every time they ask you, they’ll still be your friend.
  2. Take time to do something fun everyday (but do not schedule it, make it spur of the moment, because you want to – if this is hard, schedule it at first). This can be as silly as turning the music up really loud when you are making dinner and dancing around the house, or as planned as heading out to a movie or circus class. Just do something everyday that does not scream chore, or work.
  3. Turn off from everything electronic at least 1 hour before bed, have a bath and a relax and read some fiction in bed if you have to do something. This is a not negotiable. Seriously if you are not the leader of the country chances are that phone call or email can wait till morning. If something urgent happens, I’m sure your family will know how to contact you.
  4. Do something nurturing to your soul, body or mind (all 3 if you can) everyday. This includes meditation (I’m working on it), journalling, exercise, reading or even watching something motivational. I’m loving Oprah’s Master Class at the moment.
  5. Set some clear goals and the steps you need to take to get there, but make them goals that make you swoon with delight, and never have more than 3-5 that you are working on. Setting too many goals can just be another symptom of the Disease of Busyness. Then you don’t get them, feel worse and make yourself even more busy….arghgh. Stop. Small baby steps towards your BHAG.
  6. Have clear limits with social media, phone and email everyday. I include browsing the internet to look at news, gossip, blog posts etc with this. While we distract ourselves with this stuff, we are not doing something that is actually a priority. Then we have to work faster, harder, harder and faster to get what really needs doing, done. If it’s browsing you want to do, leave it till your work and family time is complete for the day, then have some vague out online time.
  7. Ask yourself how suffering from the disease of busyness serves you, and then that question ‘ who would you be, if you weren’t so busy?’. I tried to sneak this one in without you noticing. You MUST do this exercise. I had to say some really uncomfortable stuff to myself before I could see what I was doing to myself and Elodie.
  8. Limit the number of people you try and spend time with each week. If you’re trying to give energy to 100 people, and yourself – it can be really hard. If you are having a busy week in biz, have an alone day to recharge. Go to a movie, eat at a nice restaurant or simply spend the day on the couch. I did this recently, watched all of Season 2 of House of Cards and felt amazing afterwards. If there are lots of people you want to catch up with, try having an afternoon tea meet up with lots of likeminded friends, instead of trying to fit in 10 meet ups every week.
  9. When something comes up and you want to try and fit it in – ask yourself why? You’ll be amazed how many things don’t seem important anymore, and can be pushed away – or said NO to.
  10. Finally, learn the art of Ditch It, Delegate It, Leverage It and Live It. I truly believe everything in business and in life can be put into one of these boxes.
WOW, long blog post. If you do need some help working out how you can rid yourself of the Disease of Busyness, send me an email info at samanthaleith.com and we can schedule a free strategy call – you’ll come away with at least 1 thing you can apply the Ditch It, Delegate It, Leverage It or Live It method to. I promise. Till then, repeat after me…….NOOOOOOOOO
PS – Give yourself 30 minutes a week – to an hour, to do some research on tools that can help you with some things in your life. From ordering your groceries online, to having LinkedIn and Facebook talk to each other. If you do something in your life more than once, chances are….’there’s an app for that’.

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