By Sam McKeen
One of the battles that I continually struggle with is slowing down and not being “too” busy. There are times when I think I am doing pretty well Then, all of a sudden, without even realizing it I slip back into being overwhelmed with tasks, projects, and responsibilities. I know that I am not alone in this struggle.
It is interesting how in a society that touts so many tools to save time, we have become even busier. Busyness has even become a badge of honor to some. It is a subtle way of bragging about how full your life is and how important you are. Communicating about how much you have going on can make you feel like you are being productive, accomplished, and successful, but busyness has a price. This price can lead to your life spinning out of control and potentially falling apart. When this happens, it does not just impact you. It also impacts those around you and your relationship with God.
There is a fine line between ‘busy’ and ‘too busy.’ This is why it is important to be aware when you are starting to cross that line.
How do you know that your life is getting to the point of being too busy?
Here are five indicators to consider:
1. You are afraid to slow down.
When everything around you is moving at a breakneck speed, you convince yourself you can’t take any time off. The default solution in your mind is “I need to do more”. However, there are only so many hours in a day. Time is a precious commodity and you can’t create more of it, no matter how hard you try.
Why are you reluctant to slow down? Odds are that if you reflect on the reasons you will find that the answer is fear. Anytime fear is controlling our lives it means that God isn’t.
Fear tells you, “Everything depends on me.” God says, “No.You need to depend on Me.”
Fear tells you “If I slow down or stop, everything will fall apart.” God says, “You are not in control, I am.”
There may be seasons in your life where you go without much needed rest. However, seasons should be short periods. A season should not become a pattern and a pattern should not become the default rhythm of your life.
If you are feeling like you are too busy to slow down, then you are too busy.
2. The boundaries between work and rest are blurred.
We live in an age when we are connected to the world wherever we go. No longer does one “leave” work. Thanks to technology, you bring your work with you wherever you go.
When you get to the point of being too busy and overwhelmed, the lines between work and rest get blurry. If you do not have clear boundaries established, you start to live reactionary.
If this is you, then you desperately need to set boundaries. Work when you are supposed to work. Rest and relax when you are supposed to be taking a break. Don’t be afraid to turn your phone off or at least turn off notifications.
3. In spite of increased activity your productivity decreases.
A clear indicator that your busyness has crossed the line is when a lot of activity results in little productivity. Activity does not have a linear relationship with productivity. When you are overtired, stressed, and trying to do too much, there is an inverse relationship between the hours you invest and what gets accomplished.
Think about it. How often do you find yourself mindlessly surfing the internet or aimlessly scrolling your social media feed when you are supposed to be working or being present with your family or sleeping?
If you see your productivity dropping off, it means you need to slow down.
4. You underreact or overreact to almost everything.
Another indication that you are too busy is the way that you react to the things around you. You will notice your reactions are disproportionate to what is happening.
You will find when you are overwhelmed you either tend to be numb to things or overreact to them. When you are living at a healthy pace, your emotions should be proportional to what’s happening around you. When you’re supposed to be happy, you should be happy. When you are supposed to be sad, you should be sad.
If you have noticed that you are overreacting or disinterested in your response or reactions to people or circumstances in your life, you need to seriously evaluate how busy you are.
5. You are not having fun anymore.
Do you remember when life was fun and you had joy? Does it feel like it has been forever since you enjoyed yourself?
If your life is to the point of spinning out of control, it is hard to feel enjoyment even when you are doing things that you would normally find fun and fulfilling.
How much are you smiling? Are you able to relax and feel at ease or are you in a near-constant state of tension and stress unable to slow down or take a mental pause? If that is you, then it means that you have lost a healthy perspective on life. You have lost your heavenly Father’s perspective on your life. Thankfully when you’ve lost perspective, God hasn’t lost His.
God wants our lives to be fulfilled. He wants us to have joy in living. He created us to live a life that is filled with purpose and excitement. A life that is lived to its fullest potential is a life that is oriented around God and His plan. When we are too busy it means that we are actually outside God’s will because we are doing things He does not want us to be doing. Perhaps it is time to sit down, take a few deep breaths, and pray. Ask God to show you what it is you need to say no to so that you can realign what you do with what He wants for you.