Why constant busyness is bad for your mind and body

Within the Chinese phrase for “busyness,” there is a chunk of essential knowledge: The phrase consists of two characters, one that means “to kill” and the opposite that means “heart.”

This concept that busyness kills your coronary heart is not simply figurative; it is additionally literal. Numerous research present that activity overload, psychological stress, and busyness are related to physiological hyperreactivity, together with elevated blood stress and impaired connectivity between the heart-and-brain response.

If we wish to allow our innate compassion to come back to the floor, we have to overcome busyness. We have to let go of the worth we place on being busy and discover methods to be extra disciplined and efficient with our time. To accomplish that, we have to acknowledge that busyness is a selection. We then have to handle our time, make individuals a precedence, and worth busylessness.


Busyness is a selection

Our minds take pleasure in being busy. Many cultures worth busyness and see it as a badge of honor. We all have loads to do and not sufficient time. But basically, whether or not we wish to be busy or not is a selection. If we have now ten issues that we completely should get completed in the present day and we solely have time to get six of them completed, we will select whether or not to expertise busyness. We can select to be overwhelmed and really feel underneath stress, or we will make a sensible psychological option to prioritize the six we’ll do and cease desirous about the 4 essential issues that we simply don’t have time to do in the present day.

Time is finite. We all want we had extra hours within the day. But we don’t. If we resist the urge to really feel pressured by restricted time, we will make extra of the time we have now by lifting our foot off the fuel pedal and having a extra calm, clear mind to do what we will get completed.

Manage time and priorities

We labored with a senior chief who was properly appreciated by his colleagues and staff. But he had a behavior of being unrealistic about when he may get one thing completed. He would typically say, “I will get back to you tonight,” and each member of his staff would know that was extremely unlikely. He had the proper intentions, and he was a sensible man. But good intentions and excessive IQ mixed with lack of knowledge concerning time administration equals poor outcomes.

Being in a position to realistically assess time and priorities is exhausting. It takes self-discipline, expertise, and observe. This is knowledge in motion. Overcoming busyness by higher managing time and priorities permits us to be a wiser and extra compassionate chief. This takes ruthless prioritization and disciplined evaluation of time. Too many people have loads to do and hope someway we will get all of it completed. But at the back of our minds, we all know we will’t, and so the foot is nonetheless on the fuel pedal, creating extreme stress. The solely solution to take the foot off that pedal is if we take time to be ruthless in assessing our priorities and disciplined in evaluating and managing our time. This needs to be completed quarterly, month-to-month, weekly, and day by day in order that we all the time have the massive image in mind to make sure we’re getting the proper issues completed.


By being extra disciplined with your time, you’ll discover that you’ll be able to get extra of the proper issues completed. You will even discover that you just might be able to get extra issues completed. When your mind is clear, you’re extra environment friendly than when your mind is cluttered. You are a kinder, wiser chief. And you may be extra artistic about the best way to handle points and remedy issues, particularly these associated to managing individuals.

Put individuals first

Leadership is about individuals. The position of main is to take time to assist and allow others to get issues completed. This needs to be the place you spend most of your time. If you discover that you’re “too busy” to give attention to supporting and growing others, you’ve gotten an issue.

Take a second to mirror on your to-do record. How many gadgets on it are associated to you doing issues versus you enabling others to do issues? If there are too many issues within the first class, it could be a chance to rethink your priorities and your position as a frontrunner.

Value “busylessness”

Here is a radical concept: What if we positioned extra worth on not being busy? What if we allowed ourselves to have extra moments of “non-doing” and simply being? Too many people affiliate not doing something with being unproductive or lazy. Because we’re wired for exercise and doing issues, a pure discomfort typically arises once we do nothing. Valuing busylessness is to ask and familiarize your self with the expertise of doing nothing. This expertise is the mom of creativity and well-being. But earlier than these come up, we should move the brink of discomfort of feeling like we’re losing our time.


Busylessness is productive inside silence. At first, it may really feel of restricted profit. But after some time, we begin to discover ideas and feelings that we weren’t beforehand conscious of. “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is,” Apple founder Steve Jobs instructed biographer Walter Isaacson. “If you try to calm it, it only makes things worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things—that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you experience tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”

Valuing nonaction will also be utilized to how we lead others. Sometimes as leaders, in our want to be compassionate, we may be too fast to behave. Sometimes, not taking motion may be the wisest and most compassionate factor we will do to create area for individuals to determine issues out on their very own. This requires self-discipline. For most of us, the straightforward factor to do when somebody involves us with an issue is to leap in and attempt to remedy it. And though generally that may be useful, valuing busylessness is about difficult ourselves to see what occurs if we don’t take any motion in any respect.

Adapted excerpt from Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way (HBR Press, January 18, 2022) by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter.

Rasmus Hougaard is the founder and CEO of Potential Project, a world analysis, management growth, and consulting agency that companions with organizations, together with Microsoft, Accenture, and others, to uncover the ability of the mind.

Jacqueline Carter is a companion and the North American director of Potential Project. Jacqueline is a coauthor with Rasmus Hougaard of Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way and The Mind of the Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results.

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