“The opposite of busyness isn’t laziness. It’s meaningful work. It’s deep rest. It’s purpose. It’s love. It’s joy.” Nicola Jane Hobbs
When our team was recently attending a financial planning coaching course to help us explore the deeper impacts of our mental and emotional well-being on our financial decisions, we discussed the effect of a busyness culture.
In today’s so-called busy culture, our level of busyness often signals our higher social value. After all, if you’re ultra-busy, you must be in demand, influential, and thus winning at life. But, studies have shown that busyness only sometimes correlates with productivity.
According to the Harvard Business Review, busy culture only heightens the problems it aims to solve. It’s natural to assume that the more active we are, the more significant the impact we’ll be able to make — but in reality, studies have shown that busy culture destroys productivity and pulls us away from our families and deeper relationships with our coworkers.
Our work-life boundaries have become increasingly porous, thanks to the proliferation of technologies that make it possible to work and connect from anywhere, at any time. Working from home and flexitime has come with as many challenges as it has benefits, impacting our wealthspace and overall well-being.
In another quote from Nicola Hobbs, she expands on her idea that the opposite of being productive isn’t just wasting time. It’s play, fun, hobbies; doing things purely because they bring us joy.
A word that we’ve often used before is “intentional”. As we read these quotes, we’re reminded that it’s not so much about being busy but being intentional. Intentional about our work, the people we help, the daily tasks we set for ourselves and our regular periods of rest and relaxation.
This is why many people are starting to look at boundaries and putting healthier hedges in place to keep themselves from being overwhelmed and burning out—things like deep-work periods where we turn off cellphones and other distractions. Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University and author of “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”, defines deep work as a state of distraction-free concentration when our brains work at maximum potential.
Simply put, Newport’s deep work theory suggests that to be truly productive, we should log out of all communication tools and work, uninterrupted, for long periods of time every day. So while you might not be able to fully step away from your team communication tools, aim for 60-90 distraction-free minutes at a time.
In the same way that we can be intentional about putting an “out of office” in place for our emails, we need to go deeper and protect our time where we can focus on meaningful things, deep rest, purpose and joy! This is the healthy opposite of busyness.