Well, it had been long since I talked about mental health and since I took a complete break from blogging last week, it gave me a long time to wonder. Even though I took the break because of my finals, it was also motivated by the constant burden of work I was feeling for the past few weeks. As a person who is usually super organized and on top of all jobs, the piling tasks were not only making me anxious but were also making me question my intents. For a long time, in fact, I kept blaming myself for being lazy and inefficient. However, the break made me realise that the paradox of being busy is real.
It started at the beginning of this trimester when I went back to school while still trying to manage work on three days and shuffle in school with some demanding courses on two other days. Since the very beginning, the work was challenging and the deadlines were short. I managed things efficiently in the first few weeks but as the time passed, I just tried to find excuses to postpone work due to exhaustion. First it was that I had to move back to my school housing from central Paris, then it was the need to settle into the new circumstances… and then something else came up.
I kept my blog on the back-burner and starting eliminating tasks that weren’t ‘immediately’ important. The only thing this did was accumulate tasks to do. In fact, I spent hours at stretch just thinking about work without actually doing any. And the work kept piling. At the same time, I just kept emphasizing on how busy I was. Even have elaborate conversations about the work I have taken up to complete. All words and no work till the deadlines were at the door. Furthermore, I kept taking more work. Not because I’m naive but because historically, I should’ve been able to finish the work in time and still have some extra left, which I wanted to fill.
This is exactly what the paradox of being busy is. A combination of being overwhelmed and stressed by work and still picking more just because you’d rather be busy than free and lazy.
This is not just my story; I’ve heard so many of my friends complain of the same endlessly. In fact Uni/College/School students, and young corporates have the same story throughout the world. We are just born and brought up in and by a generation that believes in working ‘hard’. PERPETUALLY.
Which is why, I decided to share the takeaways I had from this epiphanic revelling thought and some research I did about this universal problem. All to help, learn, and grow together, in today’s blog.
So, here are 5 things I learnt about the paradox of being busy:
1. Productivity has no formula
Not surprisingly, no matter how much you think you’ve got a process of efficiency figured out, you’re going to be nipped in the butt. A way of working that worked amazingly for you till yesterday will only be making things works now. That is why tasks of mundane nature encounter the most errors in the long run. No matter how much the systems try to convince you otherwise, humans just aren’t made to follow routines. The solution lies in changing, growing, and reinventing your ways as the task and the day changes. This doesn’t only avoid mundaneness but also helps keep brain stimulated to generate focus.
2. Focus is not loyal
You love your task, are prepared for it, and yet, when you actually get to it, focus becomes your biggest foe. Sounds familiar? Like that Essay that just won’t write itself :3 This is because focus can well, F#k us at its will. There are several reasons, the stress levels, hunger, blood circulates, physical wellbeing, so on and so forth. So, what do you do if you just can’t focus? Simply let it be. Take a break but keep a deadline and come back to try again. In the worst case scenario, you may have to do this a couple of times but once you gain your streak, there’s no stopping!
3. Time is a bigger paradox
Basically, time is relative. But it gets worse when you start postponing something to an indefinite future. I think this was my biggest mistake. If deadlines are what drive you give yourself internal deadlines. Mark them on agendas and set reminders. Don’t let the time just slip by while you keep thinking that there’s still more time.
4.The more you toil, the more you pile
This is literally the worst but oh, so true! Which is what makes efficiency so important. I read somewhere that even a mule can do the hard-work but it only those who do smart work can actually make something out of their work. This is what smart work is and it is the solution to this issue. Time management, agendas, and stress management, all clubbed together!
5. Opposite of Busy is not Lazy
I think this is the most important thing I’ve learnt in a long time. Because we come from an understanding that promotes hard work so much that we have forgotten to value the free time. It is rather funny that we could be sleepless, stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, and more rather than being free. This covers all sort of commitments, professional and personal. You just keep feeling the need of doing something because you don’t want to act ‘lazy’. Well, truth be told, the opposite of busy is not lazy. Go read about the “La Dolce Far Niente” which means- the sweetness of doing nothing and you’ll understand the importance of free time for your overall wellbeing and development.
Important: Remember to breathe. No, seriously, breathing exercises work the best when you’re overwhelmed with work or are stressed. If you don’t have a lot of time, even a few minutes of deep breaths without your gadgets to distract you will help you recharge for your next power through this paradox of being busy.
In conclusion, make time for yourself by managing time efficiently. Be a little less harder on yourself and try to define boundaries in terms of thinking space for all tasks you undertake. After all, over-thinking and stressing usually tires you out more than the actual task itself.
If you know of any other useful tips or have insights on the paradox of business, do share them in comments below. Ertsy has an ecosystem that accommodates all opinions, views, and ideas to create a better, inclusive community.
Grow more with Ertsy and stay tuned for more of my travel in style adventures. Till then, strive to stay calm and be your own desire. x