Or perhaps you’ve been feeling guilty about not replying to an email, even though replying would only take 5 minutes.
These self-sabotaging behavioural patterns maintain a constant feeling of having too much to do and never getting on top of it. This is typical of people who are on the track to burnout and if not addressed, it has a negative impact on their relationships, quality of work, physical and emotional health. Whilst on the surface, many people would say this ‘busyness’ is outside their control, when you deconstruct it, it tends to be self-inflicted. Often people are too focused on what’s urgent to step back and prioritise what’s truly important.
This article deconstructs this problem and offers solutions to change these habits. To summarise the common patterns and what you can do;
- You keep ploughing away without stepping back and prioritising: Step back and work on tasks that are important but not urgent. Use the “pay yourself first” principle to do items that are on your priority list first, before you jump to responding to other people’s needs.
- You completely overlook easy solutions for getting things done: Question your assumptions. Is there a solution between the 2 extremes that could work? Breaks in which you allow your mind to wander are a helpful way of getting out of tunnel vision.
- You postpone or leave the issue instead of creating better systems for solving recurring problems. Create new habits to address such problems e.g. Always forget to charge your phone? Keep a power cable in the office.
- You use avoid or escape methods for coping with anxiety. Build some flexibility and space into your life so that you can work through your emotions and thoughts when your anxiety is set off. With practice, you’ll start to notice when you’re just doing something to avoid doing something else.
These issues aren’t personal flaws in your character or deficits in your self-control. They’re patterns that are very relatable to many people. You may be highly conscientious and self-disciplined by nature but still struggle with these habits.
Think about how you’re handling the professional and personal demands placed upon you, and whether you’re saving some energy for the moments you most want to enjoy.