Why Being Chronically Busy Doesn’t = Productivity

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Why Being Chronically Busy Doesn’t = Productivity

Productivity often feels better when we’re going at warp speed, but manic levels of workaholic loads come with a price. Here’s what I’ve learned in a crash course of Go! Go! Go!: What comes up, must come down. At the end of our long day, what we could all use more of is a little something called balance.

Relaxing Is Not A Waste Of Time

I feel like I’m slacking off when I’m not doing something every hour, minute, and second of the day. Relaxing for those of us who love to stay busy feels like empty time wasted sitting around when we could be, well, working, of course!

I’ve been accused of being a workhorse. We can have good work ethics and still have personal lives. But for those of us who enjoy working long hours, having someone tell us we need to slow down doesn’t register. It’s not that we don’t understand the words, as we hear the words just fine. It’s the application of advice that’s the true challenge.

Learn To Be Present

Time management is key, especially if you’ve got a toddler like I do. Having a three-year-old has taught me one big lesson, managing and valuing my free time. Because when it’s family time, it’s family time. Still, I’ve been guilty of checking my email or Googling something random just for the sake of it. Let’s face it, some of us are Google-holics. In this information age, anything that pops into our A.D.D. mind can be quickly Googled via our smartphone.

My now three-year-old daughter has told me, “Mommy, put your phone away.” Yikes! While I believe there is a time and place for multi-tasking, alternatively I feel it’s more conducive to be present with your mind completely dedicated to whatever task you’re doing. If you’re reading a book, don’t stop to check your phone. Block out the time and stay committed to accomplishing that one thing you set out to do for those minutes or hours you’ve dedicated. If you’re watching TV, turn off your laptop and get off of your computer. Being mindful and practicing conscious productivity is especially important for those of us who work from home.

The 25-Minute Method

It’s okay to want to be productive. But running around like you’ve drunk ten cups of coffee doesn’t always mean you’re getting a whole lot done. Project management is a skill that can be utilized to help all areas of our life. If you have multiple things to accomplish, try the Pomodoro Method, invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It’s essentially blocking out 25 minutes to accomplish a goal. You can run for 25 minutes, check your email, write, work on a project, or read. Blocking out 25 minutes for a given task helps you to stay focused while also giving you a short, manageable deadline.

The Bottom Line:

Some of us like to be busy, but working harder isn’t always a good thing. Overdoing and overworking yourself can lead to burnouts and the need to escape via an addiction as well as unhealthy habits, sleep disruptions, and overall poor self-care. Too much of anything can be unhealthy. Managing our time by focusing on one task at a time helps us to give 100 percent of our focus. Divided focus can lead to a lot of unfinished projects or sloppy results. We need to work smarter.

Don’t forget when scheduling time to make time for you. Make time to do something you love or simply do nothing for a few minutes. Yes, I know, it’s hard for some of us workaholics. But, practicing being okay with silence, meditation, and nothingness is an art. Be okay with the calm and quiet non-busy chunks of time, whether it’s 25 minutes or one day. After all, you only have one life. This isn’t a video game where you can bank more lives. Manage your time and make sure to schedule some you time. Balance, after all, is the key to health and happiness.

Carl Honore


16 thoughts on “Why Being Chronically Busy Doesn’t = Productivity

    Bipolar Cat said:
    June 26, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    This is so important for our mental wellbeing!!! Thank you for sharing; I always enjoy your posts ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo said:
      June 26, 2018 at 1:44 PM

      Awe, thanks Bipolar Cat for being a valued reader. Sometimes I never know if it helps other people, but that’s one of the motivations for why I write. Balance for our mental wellbeing is so important. Sometimes it’s nice to get off the roller coaster and learn how to be in the middle. It can feel great going manic speeds, but overdrive can be unhealthy. I look forward to reading your posts as well and will check out your latest. I ❤ ❤ ❤ topics on mental health awareness, I think it's sooo important! So glad you write about it!

      Liked by 1 person

        Bipolar Cat said:
        June 26, 2018 at 3:06 PM

        Thank you so much for the detailed response!!! xoxox

        Liked by 1 person

    Brandy said:
    June 26, 2018 at 12:44 PM

    I love the idea of time blocking and I really like your 25 minute idea because I have a hard time deciding how much time to dedicate to a task. I recently starting only doing email during “email time” which is 20 or 30 minutes (will now be exactly 25 minutes) in the morning. I get so many email notifications throughout the day that it’s nice to know that I have a set time to deal with them because then I don’t feel bad ignoring the notification – or even turning the notification off! I really like this article, partly because I can relate to it so much. I hate down time because NOTHING is getting done and it drives me crazy haha. I feel like I should be accomplishing things at all times. Even my hobbies are accomplishments – reading and knitting. I have either increased my knowledge or made a product. You’re right though: I need to learn to be okay with down time and even appreciate it so I don’t get so burnt out on life. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo said:
      June 26, 2018 at 1:39 PM

      I learned about the “Pomodoro Method” while attending a writer’s conference and the class was all about time management or making time to write. I thought the method was a great concept because it’s all about forcing procrastinators to simply start. Sometimes beginning is half the battle. When it comes to getting things done, it can be overwhelming and so we don’t know where to start, so we don’t. Setting aside 25 minutes takes the pressure off and makes the goal manageable. We’re both alike in the sense that we need to keep busy. I’m also learning that balance is important. I’m still not quite there though, but I’m working on being okay with downtime. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    K@countingpenniesandsheep said:
    July 2, 2018 at 2:36 PM

    Excellent advice! Superb reminder! Thank you! ☀️

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo said:
      July 2, 2018 at 2:38 PM

      Thank you, I often write stuff to remind myself on a regular basis and hopefully help others in the same boat. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        K@countingpenniesandsheep said:
        July 2, 2018 at 3:49 PM

        I love it!
        Me too!!

        Helping others AND helping ourselves, a fabulous combination to keep on the right track!
        Win win!

        Liked by 1 person

        Sonyo Estavillo said:
        July 2, 2018 at 5:41 PM

        Congrats by the way on reaching your milestone! I commented on your site and am now following.

        Liked by 1 person

        K@countingpenniesandsheep said:
        July 2, 2018 at 5:43 PM

        Super cool beans! 💕
        Thank you and welcome “ Writing With Hope”,
        Exceptional name!

        Liked by 1 person

    Samantha said:
    July 5, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    I love the Pomodoro method! I don’t use it enough, though… Then again, I reckon I am slightly neurotic when it comes to time-management; I hardly ever get into trouble. And I do block out time slots for personal time. If I don’t I go mad before the week’s ended (I tried, but I just don’t function at all if I use all my time on work and other tasks).

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo said:
      July 7, 2018 at 10:00 AM

      Samantha, it’s great that you use the Pomodoro method. I’m trying to use it more often. I use my phone to help keep me on schedule. The great thing about smart phones today is that we can probably find a time-management app to help keep us on track. They have a few apps. One is called “Flora – Focus, Study, Pomodoro” but there tons of others. I especially have difficulty scheduling relaxation time. One thing I’m doing more of lately is making reading time my time to undwind. 🙂


    Abigail Gronway said:
    August 9, 2018 at 5:54 AM

    As I read your article, my mind reverted to a recent memory. Two of my young adult children wanted to take me tubing down part of the river that runs near our house. Although I knew it would be fun, my mind was on the work that needed to be done in the office/studio. And as we packed the truck, I asked, “So, what do you do while you’re floating down the river?” The answer: “We float.” Her point was that we leave the work behind and enjoy the moment. I did, and have no regrets.


    storiesofourboys said:
    September 8, 2018 at 12:54 PM

    Time management and focusing on the task at hand has been a frequent struggle of my adult years. I love the Carl Honore quote and what you have to say here.

    Liked by 1 person

    Maia Stone said:
    September 9, 2018 at 3:38 AM

    Agreed! I can stay productive just 25 min at a time. Tide and Forest apps definitely helped me to schedule/monitor my work hours. Great post! The comment from your kid is sassy, honest, and sooo cuuuute!

    Liked by 1 person

    LittleFears said:
    January 6, 2019 at 6:43 AM

    I have my day broken up into 30 minutes to 1-hour blocks with a cuppa tea and biscuit between each task. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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