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Why are we so busy?

Apr - 1 - 2007
Nicole C. Engard

I just finished reading a New York Times article about the book “CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap” by Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist.

According to Dr. Hallowell, there are many (26 in his book) overlapping reasons we all fall into the trap of being overly busy. A few are:

  • It is so easy with cellphones and BlackBerrys a touch away.
  • It is a kind of high.
  • It is a status symbol.
  • We’re afraid we'll be left out if we slow down.
  • We avoid dealing with life's really big issues "” death, global warming, AIDS, terrorism "” by running from task to task.
  • We do not know how not to be busy.

Paradoxically, Dr. Hallowell writes in “CrazyBusy,” it is in part the desire for control that has led people to lose it.

“You can feel like a tin can surrounded by a circle of a hundred powerful magnets”" he writes. “Many people are excessively busy because they allow themselves to respond to every magnet: tracking too much data, processing too much information, answering to too many people, taking on too many tasks "” all in the sense that this is the way they must live in order to keep up and stay in control. But it's the magnets that have the control.”

The bolding above was added by me – to show which items are on my lists of reasons when I explain away my busyness.

This article hit a bit close to home for me, since I am so busy – all of the time. But it’s no one’s fault, but my own. The other day I was on the phone with my mother and she was expressing her concern about my busyness. She said to me “You don’t know how not to be stressed.” And she was right. I’ve been stressed all of my life. In fact, when I was very young I would get dizzy spells and the doctor told my mother it was due to stress. I have never been any good at relaxing, I’m always thinking of things I could be doing instead. People always ask me how I juggle it all – and I don’t know how – I just don’t feel content unless I’m busy. One day it will catch up with me – but for now – well – I guess I’ll just stay on track.


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