Is your obsession with doing more killing you?

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Sabrina Almeida

Are you one of those people who likes to be ‘crazy busy’ all the time and thinks of doing less or nothing as ‘being lazy’? There is a growing belief that this obsession with doing things faster and better to get more out of one’s day might actually be killing us.

Been there, done that. It’s super addictive, and in my case incurable, I fear!

Yes, I’m obsessed with optimizing my day. After all there’s always a more efficient way to accomplish a task so that one can squeeze in one more job rather than leave it for tomorrow. This maxim has caused me to overdose on work. I envy the slackers who unashamedly put their feet up and enjoy it, because I feel terribly guilty when I’m not being ‘productive’.

I realized the seriousness of my problem when I began to ignore phone calls from friends on weekends because I didn’t want to waste time talking to them. What’s worse I’d be slogging till midnight both days to check off all the boxes on my never-ending to-do list!!!

For years I juggled multiple projects on the work, social and home front. Stretching to take on more and going from one task to another in automation mode. I rarely walked away from an opportunity. That was not acceptable in my playbook. So, the only downtime was enforced, like in a clinic or hospital waiting room when there was no choice! Naturally, these were extremely rare occasions but quite liberating I’ll admit.

Being occupied all the time was fulfilling… or perhaps that’s how I chose to see it. I justified my addiction to being busy as a way to stay out of the devil’s playground. It sounded and felt great. Also given my overload standards, I didn’t think much of those who chose to idle away precious moments. Till I realized the importance of having some time to do nothing at all. My focus on productivity was taking me away from simple but necessary pleasures like a refreshing walk in the park, catching a mindless chick-flick on Netflix or just sipping tea and staring out the window.
I read somewhere that sitting and doing nothing was a test of how comfortable one is with one’s self and decided to take up the challenge. During initial attempts my mind raced in a million directions in the first few minutes of idleness. Then I’d remember something on my to-do list, get up to do it but force myself to sit down again. The temptation was greater if my family members were busy. The guilt made me restless.

Yet I was determined to slow it down a bit and gave up a few projects. The first weeks were as painful as I’d imagined the withdrawal symptoms would be. I couldn’t handle the free time. Feeling unproductive and useless, I pottered around the house looking for things to do. My husband tried to reason with me. After all the objective of reducing my workload was to relax! But I didn’t know how to.

Honestly, the only time I am comfortable doing nothing is at a social gathering or outing with friends. Given this malaise, I try to get out of the house more often now.

While trying to overcome my addiction, I realized that being busy can be as sinful as idleness. And that the obsession with being productive comes at the expense of experiencing the fullness of life. Technology makes it easier to do more rather than just relax. Add to that the fact that social media glorifies activity. Whether it is professionally, socially or personally, it drives us to be on top of it all. Be seen accomplishing things all the time.In the end work-life balance is a myth as most of us are constantly working to get more out of life. I believe being able to relax is truly an art that may well be out of the reach of people like me. The quest for efficiency is relentless. It doesn’t bring happiness or fulfillment because we’ve got it backwards. Our focus shouldn’t be on doubling our output but making more time to experience the joys of life in the company of family and friends. That and not productivity is the true measure of success and quality of life. It’s the positive new challenge that I suspect will take up a lot of my time. -CINEWS

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