Busy? Or burned out?
It’s interesting how often we hear, or say, “I’m so busy!” For some, it’s like a badge of honor.
I heard a short comedy sketch by a former Second City comedian. She acted out this skit for us (she played both parts, and of course it was much longer, but here’s the gist):
First person: I’m so busy! I’m never in bed before 3AM and I’m up at 6:00 and it starts all over!
Second person: Well I’ve actually started getting up before I go to bed!
First person: Uh huh … I’ve actually started working in my sleep!
Both: I’m SO BUSY!!
You get the idea. We’re all busy, but for some reason we seem to want to let everyone know just how busy we are.
What’s the toll, though, really? Think about this in terms of relationships. Both at work and in personal life. Organizations place more and more responsibility on fewer and fewer people, which equates to longer work days. In some places, no one ever leaves work at a respectable time, and for those who dare, they’re almost mocked by those who always stay late.
I had this disease once. I recall well more than a decade of 6 and sometimes 7 day workweeks. In the earliest days of my career as an investment banker on Wall Street, I routinely worked 18 to 20 hours every day! Want to know the worst part? I was a newlywed!
What happens to relationships can be almost inferred. They become strained, distanced and hard to maintain. When people are unendingly drained, it is very challenging to fully engage with friends or family after work. This can leave people carrying increasing guilt and dissatisfaction in life. Ironically, being busy to the point of exhaustion can actually cause you to sleep poorly, too. Constant “busy-ness” creates excuses to make no time for exercise or healthy eating. People sit in front of their computers, shoulders slouched, eating at their desks while they work, barely standing up during the day. This creates the never ending cycle of exhaustion and frustration.
If you don’t sleep or eat well, and rarely (or never) exercise, your energy declines even further. What happens? We pay a physical, mental and emotional toll. And it creates a vicious cycle.
There are a lot of resources available for nutrition education and proper exercise techniques. Many, many people love those resources and apply them daily. I’m sure there are more who are aware of the resources, but either choose not to use them, or have trouble staying motivated and on track.
So the answer to how to be fit and why to be fit is easy to find. Eat right, sleep well, drink a lot of water, and exercise. Nothing complex here. Yet, the World Health Organization ranks the United States the 22nd most overweight nation in the world. 66% of the U.S. population, according to WHO, has a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 25. Two out of three people in the U.S. are carrying too much weight.
In their book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz demonstrate that managing energy, not time, is the key to enduring high performance as well as to health, happiness, and life balance. Their work began in a focus on professional athletes to help them perform more effectively under brutal competitive pressures. Instead of managing time, they argue, people need to manage their energy. All of it: physical, mental and emotional energy.
By choosing to address our energy, we can reshape how busy we feel. Instead of being on edge and shouting to the world “Look how busy I am!”, with proper energy management, we can be more productive (and who knows, maybe that means fewer hours at work?), and certainly more engaged at work and, I would argue, in our personal lives.
Managing energy vs. time makes a lot of sense if you think about it. We can’t create more time. But we can create more energy. And, those who benefit from it reach far beyond ourselves.
So next time you’re ready to shout how busy you are, ask yourself how energetic you are. If you don’t know, or worse, if you do know and it’s not good, use this as your motivation to eat and sleep better, and exercise more.
Then, wear that as your badge of honor. Instead of your “busy” schedule.
DON’T GO AWAY EMPTY-HANDED! This FREE RESOURCE is yours for the taking:
In the comments section below, let me know how busy you are, and what you plan to do about gaining energy instead.
Start small. I bet it makes a big difference.