7 Ways to Overcome the “Keep Busy” Gene

Packing too much for a short trip

Packing too much for a short trip

When you pack for a trip, do you find yourself adding “just one more?” You know, one more shirt; one more pair of socks; another pair of earrings. I do. And then I have to either try to stuff all of it into a case that has somehow gotten smaller. Or I have to start all over.

Recently, I noticed that this tendency towards over stuffing bleeds over into other aspects of my life. Sometimes it works: one more dash of paprika on my eggs. More often it doesn’t. I add project after project, task on top of task. Until my do to list is longer than the hours in a day. I think this behavior may be hardwired into the human psyche. Is there a “keep busy” gene?

Here are seven overload traps I’ve either experienced or heard about from others. Is yours here?

  1. You sign a petition. Emails start coming in
  2. There’s an offer of a free white paper – if you leave your email address. More email to read.
  3. Take a class. And another class. Not only do you have more homework, but if you are in university, you have to worry about your GPA. (Not to mention your social life.)
  4. Teaching another workshop
  5. Doing another festival – before having a chance to unpack from the one last week
  6. Agreeing to not only serve on the comittee, but also to chair it. Again.
  7. * Getting yet another idea for a major series before you’re even halfway through the paintings you promised your best gallery

Yes there are some remedies. The first is to be firm and unsubscribe from every email list you aren’t actively using (or that doesn’t make you smile). No matter how interesting (and you might need it in the future). If you do need it, you will find it again. Or something better. Don’t go looking for these emails, though. Just when they come into your inbox, scroll all the way to the bottom and hit that unsubscribe link. Here are seven more remedies to the “keep busy” gene.

  1. Meditation – yes, I know it’s obvious and you knew you were going to see it here. Try five minutes of sitting still. Focus on your breathing. Calm breathing. Deep breathing. Whichever seems most compatible with your own preferences.
  2. Mindfulness practice – similar to meditation, this calls for you to be focused on some very small action. Say, chewing a dried cranberry. Or a nut. You close your eyes and before chewing anything, roll the nut (or whatever) around in your mouth, using your tongue to explore the surface of the food. Then take one slow bite – one! Listen to the crunch, think about the sound and the pressure of your bite… And so forth. It’s agonizing not to chew the whole thing down. Especially trying this with a dried cranberry!
  3. Go to bed without any reading material, without your phone or tablet or laptop.
  4. Do five minutes of really gentle yoga.
  5. Go for a short walk. Best if there is nature or interesting architecture to look at. Bring only music no work related recordings.
  6. Read a funny or interesting article or book not related to work.
  7. Take a nap.

Why do these work? Because they recharge your brain and body. Do you have a suggestion? Have you tried any of these? What works for you? The comment box is below and I can’t wait to read your responses.

2 Responses to “7 Ways to Overcome the “Keep Busy” Gene”

  1. Roomie Says:

    Great read!!! You are awesome.

  2. Patricia C Says:

    Thank you, Denise! Did it resonate with you or did it amuse you?