In this four-part series, Ray Williams discusses what happens when we are addicted to busyness and how to move past the addiction.
We’ve got career ladders to climb, businesses to keep afloat, children to raise, classes to attend, appointments to keep, emails to answer, meetings to go to, errands to run, housework to do, and on and on. We’re swamped. We’re pressed for time. We frantically rush from one activity to another. There are so many things that need and take our attention, we don’t even stop to think about what our overloaded lifestyles are doing to us. We are afflicted by the busyness disease.
What is Busyness?
Busyness can be defined as a state of having a lot of activity, or not being idle. You can be overloaded, overwhelmed, snowed, swamped, tied up and stressed. You feel like there is not enough time for all the activities you are either committed to or want to do.
Gallup conducted an August 2017 survey that revealed both professional/executive and white and blue-collar employees worked slightly under 50 hours a week between 47 and 49 hours respectively. Since the 40 hour work week has expanded and peak seasons, special projects, and unique workplace demands – the work week often requires more than 50 hours a week.
U.S.A. Today published a multi-year poll in 2008 to determine how people perceived time and their own busyness. It found that in each consecutive year since 1987, people reported that they are busier than the year before, with 69% responding that they were either “busy,” or “very busy,” with only 8% responding that they were “not very busy.” Not surprisingly, women reported being busier than men, and those between ages 30 to 60 were the busiest. When the respondents were asked what they were sacrificing to their busyness, 56% cited sleep, 52% recreation, 51% hobbies, 44% friends and 30% family. In l987, 50% said they ate at least one family meal every day; by 2008, that figure had declined to 20%.
Busyness is more than an annoying truth of modern life.
It has emerged as a significant health concern, according to Joseph Bienvenu, a psychiatrist and director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He sees patients suffering from so much overscheduling that they can’t sleep, think, or make time for important activities like exercise. “Emotional distress due to busyness manifests as difficulty focusing and concentrating, impatience and irritability, trouble getting adequate sleep, and mental and physical fatigue,” he says.