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This is why you’re addicted to being busy

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Why do we feel so compelled to always be busy? Why is it that the moment there’s not a mile-high stack of tasks or projects on our plate, we suddenly feel anxious and unsettled (when really the opposite should be the case). Busyness has become the new normal. And that’s a problem.

There’s a paradox when it comes to busyness that goes like this:

Anyone with professional ambition strives to do great work and be recognized for their talent and therefore is in high demand (i.e. busy). However, the more in demand you are (i.e. busy), the harder it is to provide the same quality of work or creative thinking that got you there in the first place.

If being in demand is proof you’re doing a good job, it’s easy to mistake busyness for validation. But the opposite of busyness isn’t laziness or emptiness or unmoored drifting through life. It’s purpose. Choice. Prioritization. Being busy is letting others control your time. Being purposeful is being in the driver’s seat.

When you give in to the cult of busyness, you give up one of the greatest tools we have for being productive, happy, and protecting ourselves from burnout: rest. In order to do meaningful work and become more creative and productive, we need to take a step away from the always-on, no-room-to-breathe, hectic pace of the modern workplace.

But instead of stepping back, most of us lean in. We do more to make up for our lack of original thinking when we should be doing less.

When the team at ideas42 studied the situations and working styles that lead to busyness, overwork, and burnout, they found one common trait. While pretty much every organization claims that balance and time off are key values, few actually act that way.

But why is that? Why do we drown in busyness after saying we don’t want to?

For some people, it’s unrealistic expectations. Your company is understaffed and overworked, and........

© Fast Company