By Bryan Kramer | Business, Featured

Why Are We Really Busy?

If you look it up in the dictionary, you’ll find that busy means having a lot to do.  Does it seem like every successful person you know is very busy?  That surely means that if you stay busy, you will achieve that same level of success, doesn’t it?  Well, not so fast.  Being busy and achieving success don’t always go hand in hand.

Many of us go day to day, feeling pressed for time.  It may seem like in order to complete all your tasks at work, you must make sacrifices elsewhere.  Spending significant time on emails, meetings, follow-ups, and reading to keep you up to date on the fast-changing technology and innovations in your field, keep you on your phone or laptop, even while trying to do something else.

Our busyness begins feeling a bit more overwhelming than finding success.

Leadership expert and friend Dorie Clark in her recent TED talk that landed on the home page of with her talk gives an example of leaders who were asked what was key to their organization’s success.  Ninety-seven percent agreed that long-term strategic thinking was the most essential.

In a separate survey, 96% of organizational leaders responded that they did not have time for long-term strategic thinking.  So what gives?  Is this one of those catch-22s that send us in that never-ending loop?

Watch Dorie’s TEDTalk stellar performance and break down in what’s now over 1 million views on the front page of in just 7-minutes on how to create less busyness in your life below.

Three Reasons for Feeling Constantly Busy

Dorie discussed three hidden reasons that people fall into that endless loop of being constantly busy.


  • As mentioned earlier, we seem to identify success with busyness.  After all, there isn’t much difference between busyness and business, is there?  We like being busy because it makes us feel important and successful.  And it may make others think you are important and successful, too.  We wear our busyness as a badge of honor, and it seems to validate our importance.  We seem to want to be busy.  Are you the one who volunteers for projects, even though you are so busy now, that you don’t know how you will complete them?  And maybe, though you complain about being busy, you secretly enjoy the busyness.
  • You’ve heard the acronym FOMO, right?  Is staying busy your way to combat the Fear Of Missing Out?  If you stay busy, you never have time to feel excluded from anything.  Everyone likes that feeling they get from belonging.  Busyness means never feeling left out.


Dorie Clark explains that uncertainty can fall into two categories.

  • The first is that you are uncertain about what to do.  If you are taking on a new task, and you know the result that you are looking for, you may become busy, just deciding how to get those results.  Maybe it is something you don’t understand, the task is unclear, or it is outside of your comfort level.  But rather than ask for help, you get busy trying to find a way to do it, or do what has been done in the past, either faster, or more often.
  • The second is your uncertainty about yourself.  Are you in the right job?  Are you having trouble with your life priorities?  You may become busy in an attempt to determine the right life path.  Or you may be using your busyness to project productivity and loyalty to your company.


  • Dorie refers to the third reason as numbing.  You may also call it avoidance.  If you are busy because you don’t want to deal with certain things, you may make yourself busy as a way of avoiding it.  Perhaps a divorce or some other traumatic event can be avoided if you are too busy to address the issue.  Avoiding tough decisions can be put off if you are too busy to deal with them.


Is your busyness at work getting in the way of a personal relationship, family responsibilities, or daily self-care?  Does it impact your health?  Are your feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed?

It obviously is not healthy if your life has no balance. Deciding to take a step back from being busy will not make you less successful. But it may make you less frustrated and lonely. - Dorie ClarkClick To Tweet

In order to reduce your busyness and reclaim your life, you must first acknowledge the cause of your busyness.  Then decide on your motivation to change.  You could start by scheduling some free time or taking a look at your calendar and tweaking any unnecessary appointments.

Prioritize your activities so that you spend your time how and with whom you want.  Delegate some of your tasks. Learn to say ‘no.’

Watch Dorie Clark’s Ted Talk for more information on The Real Reason You Feel So Busy and What to Do About It.

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