Why Time Management makes you more busy

How does your start in the morning look like? Going through your inbox just before the first meeting starts, or catching-up the left-overs of the previous day? Time is never on our site, it seems…

If you get a bag full of money, you can choose when you spend it and to what. Time is a different phenomenal: every second gone is gone forever, every hour or day not spend well (to whatever your standard is) will never come back, cannot be redone again.

We are so busy…

I have investigated many times what most managers prefer for their management training. Time management always pops-up in the top 3. People, managers especially, always seem to struggle with time. Many of us ‘manage’ this through using private time, making the extra hours at work or even work 6 or 7 days a week. It seems the rat-race is always on; In the end we always switch-off, burn-out, divorce, and see more horrible consequences.

Why do we think we are busy? Because we have so much to do, at work and at home. Organisations constantly demand more, our inbox is constantly full, more to-do’s, more meetings, and when we get home, more things to do, shopping, cooking, pick-up the children. We’re simply so busy!

The concept of being busy

Being busy is not really necessary, but these are the concepts why we think we are so busy:

  1. Being busy is the easy option. We are busy because we choose the easiest way out. We allow our day to be ruled by our environment, inbox, meetings, etc. Just doing is a good excuse not to think about a proper planning and what is really important. It takes more courage to do less, to think first, every time again. In fact, this means being busy is a form of laziness,  as in “what exactly the purpose of my doing is, is unclear, but I’ll do it as fast as I can”.
  2. Being busy is avoiding. Many good intentions, things we plan to do. Important goals we put together for ourselves, but not easy to do. When we have the choice to do a task that takes a small effort or a big effort, we very often chose the easy to do small but busy task. We create the excuse not to have time for the bigger task that takes  more thinking. We procrastinate.
  3. Being busy is a personal brand. If you can show the people around you how busy you are, you must be important, adding important value. We believe we proof our ambition for a promotion. Nothing is more annoying than someone being more busy than you…
  4. Being busy is a habit or addiction. Dopamine is released every time we accomplish something. Dopamine causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. It increases your general level of arousal and your goal-directed behaviour. With our smartphone you now have almost instant gratification of your desire to seek. Want to talk to someone right away? Send a text and they respond in a few seconds. Want to look up some information? Just type your request into google. Want to see what your colleagues are up to? Go to Linked In. It’s easy to get in a dopamine induced loop.
  5. Being busy is what everybody is. It is simple today’s social norm be busy. How many people do you know not being busy?Your being busy is part of belonging to the herd. You must behave the same to be part of it.

What does being busy deliver really?

So, through being so busy, we experience the multitasking demand, our bulging agendas, feeling overloaded.We also consider being busy as helping us gaining success, promotion, more financial benefits. Lastly we aim for more happiness, we expect to become more happy by achieving more.

With time management, we expect we can use time more effectively to get more control on our lives. Nevertheless the time gained is usually used to squeeze in more meetings, more projects. So by getting more efficient, we get more done, we get more busy. Time management is not a solution, it becomes another cause.

Being successful is not about working longest hours. In fact, for a successful career you need to be seen between all the busy people. Working longer hours stops you from work that requires thinking and creativity. More is less, or, try to do less to make important things go better.

Happiness is hardly determined by money, status or being popular, scientific research proofs this over and over again. Sacrifices we make – family, relations, purpose, health – are the only things that make us happy, also based on solid research.

So, time management is counter productive! We become more busy, all the time.

Beyond being busy

Being busy is unimportant, not something to speak highly about, instead, something to be ashamed of. How can we flourish in the too full and busy world? It is not about relaxing, as also in our spare time we get more and more demands.

In today’s world, it is about focused attention. We kill “being busy” by sincere involvement into whatever is really important to us. That conversation with people we care about, spending time with a good friend, taking time to think, slow-down and surrender to the moment.

What If we could learn focusing our attention, in stead of using our time by being busy, if we started aiming to be involved and connected, in stead of aiming money or matter.

4 Strategies for living purposeful

Tony Crabbe writes in his book “Busy, how to thrive in a world of too much” about the 3 essential aspects that place our well-being in the centre of attention in stead of being busy.

  1. Mastery – to move beyond busyness you need to regain a sense of mastery over your life. Build a sense of control back into your life, take responsibility for making choices and how to set boundaries to protect you from the flood of demands and information.
  2. Focus – in a world of too much, success is not about doing more at work but about making an impact. Move to a career strategy that doesn’t rely on productivity alone.
  3. Engagement – busyness can cause you to disengage from the people, values and activities that are important to us. Re-engage with your work and life.
  4. Momentum – part of the challenge to moving beyond busyness is that even if you agree you should make the change, you’re too busy to find the time and energy to do anything about it. Make the change, creating the impetus, energy and clarity to move to a life less busy.


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