The Science of Busy: How to Avoid Stress

Avoid Stress

What do you think when you hear someone mention that they are “too busy” or “insanely swamped”? It sounds like they are swarming bees without a focused direction and it makes it hard to connect.

I think we can all agree that the best business connections are built on genuine relationships.

Therefore our goals should be to increase the amount of genuine relationships in our business lives.

No one ever wants to hear how stressed out you are, chances are they have enough stress in their lives. When someone tells you about the details of their lives and why they are pulling their hair out everyday isn’t real conversation. Never are you going to say “Wow, Cindy really has it bad. I should start a business relationship with her where I can listen to more of her stories and become a part of that life.”


Telling others how busy you are isn’t productive conversation and doesn’t lead anywhere. Those people who act crazy busy or feel stressed out about everything have a negative effect on their work, family or social lives.

Often this negativity is most publicly seen on social media. Frequently the posts that you post on social media are going to be shared publicly and available to anyone who searches for your name. How do you want the world to perceive you.

The Meaning Behind Busy

When you tell others (or yourself) about how busy you are, the effects can ripple into other areas of your life. Let’s look closer and translate what you’re doing when you mention you are “too busy”:

  • I’m Important) Shoveling out complaints and reasons on why you’re too busy is the fast-lane to a mini ego trip. It’s telling people that “I matter more than you”, one of the small insults that can ruin a genuine relationship.
  • I’m Significant) Busy means that people need me and I’m important in this world. You’re yelling to people “I MATTER!” and expecting a relationship to bloom or conversation to spring from a statement like that is very odd, so you just say “I’m busy!” instead.
  • I’m Giving You An Excuse) This is one of the easiest ways to get out of things that you don’t want to do. Alternatively, you would have to be honest with them and tell them that they aren’t important to you. After hearing that excuse 2-3 times, everyone comes around to that conclusion and your reputation suffers as a result.
  • I’m Scared) I keep extremely busy because I’m living in constant fear that I’ll be left out of something or I’ll miss something important. I’m scared that I don’t matter enough, I’m not important enough, I’m not needed and as a result I spend my time filling my calendar with things that don’t matter.
  • I’m Feeling Guilty) There are several things that I need to do with my day, however if I see that I have time in my day I feel that I’m not working hard enough. Therefore, I’ll book myself solid to the point where I can’t feel guilty for not being productive and that will alleviate my inner fear.

The exhalation of being busy as a virtue is where we find a fault. In society’s definition a person with a full calendar of those that want to meet with them is an important person and therefore that is to what we aspire. It’s easy to overlook filling our calendars with meaningful experiences for those that will merely fill our time. We impose self inflicted measures to ensure that we perceive ourselves as important instead of omnisciently looking at our schedules as being filled by quality over quantity.


How to Escape the Cult of Busy

If you only do the easy and unproductive tasks, you will be able to keep putting off the important ones that scare you.

You don’t have time for that! There’s always something that will prevent you from doing what you really should be doing…

What a scary thought!

When you find that you have a full schedule, task list that is overflowing out of your iPhone and ideas that you need to do keeping you up at night, it’s probably time to stop and pay attention to what’s important, prioritize the difficult and watch your day gain momentum.


Here are a couple ways to start:

Keep a record of your time.

Think of yourself as your own consultant. Perform an audit of your schedule, what would you tell someone else to do if that was their calendar? Track your time using tools like Harvest or use a time log spreadsheet. Use RescueTime to break down how you spend your day on the computer.

Use iDoneThis to ask yourself at the end of the day “What did you accomplish today?” and “What did you pay the most attention to today?”


Change your language:

We like this tip from Laura Vanderkam. Instead of putting things in terms of time and activity, frame them in terms of priority:

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.

You can often change you attitude to have a clearer handle of your priorities. Change you definition of productivity.



Press pause.

Often what we need the most is to STOP. We need to take a day or two and slow down.

Acknowledge your stressors and accomplishments to gain insight on where to focus your energy.


Do less and feel more joy.

Pay attention to what’s in your control, and you will find joy.

Being in control of what controls you is the solution to being busy. When you feel obligated by experiences that you are not in control of, you will feel that stress of schedules, conflicts and deadlines.

Feel more happiness, do less. Stop spreading yourself so thin by saying “no” more often and saying “yes” to more genuine experiences.


How do you control the stressors in your life?