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break the harmful addiction to being busy

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Christina Adamidou | Jul 17, 2018 | Photograph by: Christian Fregnan

Do you often feel the need to be doing something, something productive?  You wrestle with the urge to jam-pack your schedule.  You may feel overwhelmed about having too much to do, but when you do get some downtime it actually makes you feel uncomfortable.  If this sounds familiar, you could be addicted to busyness.

And you’re not alone.  In a recent survey of more than 10,000 Australian women, a large number of respondents fell into the ‘overwhelmed’, or ‘super busy’ category.  Not only are people complaining about busyness, many of us also consider it to be a status symbol.

While addicts are busy doing different things, they all have one thing in common—they are running.  Sprinting from one task to another.  Speeding through dinners, reunions, and football practices to catch up on emails and make that last phone call.  I too have found myself using the term “Busy!” as a default response when someone asks how I’m doing.  I was wasting huge amounts of time obsessively checking my email or looking at my phone, sometimes every few minutes, without ever asking myself why.

As I was becoming more conscious of this and my unhealthy attitude towards busyness, I realised that this race to the finish line was making me feel more stressed, frustrated, and anxious than ever.  Acting on things too quickly meant I was making more mistakes, which I failed to learn from because I just “didn’t have the time.”  Glorifying being busy was having a serious negative impact on my physical and emotional wellbeing.

“Being busy is the disease of our time,” as author and filmmaker, Pedram Shojai, aptly puts it.  “The body physiologically needs to unplug, to relax.  But we’ve become so accustomed to a state of sympathetic nervous system overload that we can’t get out.”

To break this addiction, before it would break me, I decided I needed to become more patient with myself, restore balance, and gain perspective in my life.  I began reading up on the art of slowing down.  Here’s what I’ve learnt:


The Slow Movement

You’ve probably come across some message, whether print or online, to “slow down.”  Perhaps, some of your favourite restaurants have put up no-WIFI signs, encouraging diners to “talk to each other.”  Less is more – as we’re told in the fashion, food, and publishing industries.  What began in 1986 by Italian food journalist, Carlo Petrini, as a protest against mass-produced, unethically sourced food, has now become a cultural movement that has touched millions.

More than a change of pace, the Slow Movement encourages a shift in our attention to the processes around us, ensuring that the way we live is both sustainable and responsible.  It is a philosophy, which starts with adopting a certain mindset that the near future is not what matters most – it’s the long term that does.

In today’s pressed-for-time society, bringing “slow” back into our lives offers us a way to reconnect with our families, our communities, and ourselves.

If you too are moving too fast through life, take a deep breath, pause, and read these top reasons why living slowly matters:


1. You become more mindful of your surroundings

Slowing down yanks our minds back from our fantasies of the future to our present reality.  When we are so busy juggling all those different tasks, we don’t give ourselves the energy or the time to recognise and appreciate our surroundings.  The practice of living slowly peels away that blurriness before our eyes, revealing the richness of the present moment.

Once we become more mindful of this, we feel less agitated and more at peace with our current situation and ourselves.  The activity we are undertaking becomes an experience to learn from and to engage with, rather than a hurried task to endure.


2. You become more patient

Slowing down is hard work—especially in an age of instant communication.

Busyness addicts, in particular, thrive on achieving immediate results and become impatient when things are left “undone.”  Leading a life that embraces stillness and solitude is a process that takes time and patience.

By becoming more patient, we are able to make better decisions and feel more confident about ourselves, as we learn that success builds over time, not overnight.  Sometimes we do need to work quickly and hustle.  But other times we need to relax and recharge.


3. Helps you get things done right

Ask yourself: are you just busy being busy?  Moving too fast makes us lose focus and forget what is important.  Whereas, if you move slowly but surely, you’ll have to decide on what truly matters because you won’t have the time to do everything.

By doing so, you’ll be able to accurately plan and act at the right time and place in order to achieve the best results.  This is an important step in improving the tasks that are essential to your larger life goals.


4. Build better relationships

The paradox of our 21st century lifestyle is that we are hyper-connected and hopelessly disconnected at the same time.  We communicate with strangers on social media, but we don’t say hello to our neighbours.

The Slow Movement encourages us to look outward and open up to others.  By doing things with greater quality, purpose, and, ultimately, with less stress, we have the time to re-connect with the people in our lives.  We savour the everyday moments spent with our families and friends, and we engage in meaningful, face-to-face conversations.  We begin noticing those who need our attention, our love, and our support.  And as a result, we become better friends, partners, wives, daughters, sisters, colleagues, and citizens.

Living slowly has something to offer us all.


Here at Miss Independent, we help you find the answers you need to become more intentional in work and in life.  Like what you read above ?  Want to know more about what we do?  Click here to get in touch.




Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017, to educate and mentor women and help them make their best career and business decisions. Natalie is an experienced business woman and non-executive company director focused on organisational design, strategy, growth and innovation. Her goal is to help you think differently, work differently and feel in control of your own destiny.

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