Addicted to Busyness
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the mornin’ last,
Just kickn’ down the cobblestones,
Lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy.
The 59th Street Bridge Song, © 1966 Paul Simon.
When Simon and Garfunkel sang us into the 70’s with their whimsical reminder to “watch the flowers grow” we had no hint of how fast life would eventually get. Many professionals today know that a “more with less” company culture often demands a “more in less” relationship with time. Multitasking develops into a way of life and sleep deprivation becomes a conscious choice for people trying to squeeze one more responsibility into an already overloaded day before collapsing in bed exhausted, but feeling too “wired” to rest.
We’re running on adrenaline—and it’s killing us. Psychologist and author Archibald Hart notes that, “People in a hurry never have time for recovery. . . we are living at a pace that is too fast for our bodies. This is the essence of the stress problem.” Hart adds, “The fact your body has adapted doesn’t mean the behavior is healthy.”
Adrenalin is a chemical that is naturally produced by your body and designed to help you respond quickly and decisively in demanding situations. The problem in a hyper-speed culture is that people maintain “fight or flight” levels of adrenaline throughout the entire day. Their bodies are never allowed to return to a non-challenged state as high levels of adrenaline chip away at the body’s immune system, damage internal organs, and speed the aging process.
If you’re a naturally intense person (Type-A) you aren’t going to change your personality. You can change your behavior. They key to making any lasting behavioral change is recognizing and addressing the thoughts, beliefs, and unmet needs that motivate your actions.
The Power of Choice
Don’t excuse an over-packed lifestyle by saying you have no control over your schedule. Every investment of your time is the result of a choice that you make. Regardless of the breadth of your responsibilities, the significance of your role, the magnitude of your duties—you have the power to say, “I’m sorry, that time on my calendar is already committed.” When you lose the ability to say, “No,” you invite other people—and their agendas—to control your life.
The assistant for an executive in a high-tech company told me one day she did not have a view of the personal time on this vice president’s schedule. He considered his personal time his own and he blocked those hours in a way that prevented anyone from putting something into that space on his calendar. I hope he keeps doing that–he’ll live longer.
If you’re “dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep” ask yourself what you are afraid will (or won’t) happen if you relax, refocus, and renew. You may be surprised to discover that investing time in recreation, solitude, and adequate rest will dramatically increase your efficiency—and maybe leave you “feelin’ groovy.”
From It’s Your Life–Live It. Copyright 2016, Joseph M. Jordan. All rights reserved. Look for the book on Kindle in December 2016.