Does Being Busy Make You Accomplish More?

being busyI’ve always been told to be a very patient and relaxed person by everyone in my surroundings. Just a few days ago, I was catching up with a friend I haven’t seen for about two years on Facebook. His first comment was, “Hope you’re doing fine and are as relaxed as I knew you.”

So, I believed this to be true about myself… until NOW!

Something happened over the last week that allowed me to discover a dark side, a denied part of myself that I’ve been completely ignoring. I want to tell you about this discovery. But first, let me tell you about how I gained my reputation of being a patient and relaxed person.

I live in Montreal, Canada, a society which is pretty much geared towards moving in a fast pace. People are in a hurry getting from one activity or task to the next. Some are so busy with all the things they have packed in doing in a day that you often hear they say, “I didn’t have time to eat all day.” During rush hour traffic, the minute there’s two feet of distance between cars, someone will instantly sneak into the open space to move faster and constantly change lanes from left to right. People hardly have meaningful free time just to spend with family and friends. As a consequence, allowing a simple conversation to slowly unfold and be fully present with each other makes them uncomfortable. Not only with others but, most people are not able to take just five minutes to be with themselves, enjoy their own company, disconnect from their devices and just BE.

In this world where the response to asking someone ‘How are you?” is “Oh, I’m so busy”, followed by the million and one things they have on their to-do list, I come off as being patient and relaxed.

Here’s why:

For years I have coached individuals by looking deep in their heart and soul. I believe this to be the gateway to treating others as a full and complete human being and guiding them to reach their full potential.

On a personal level, I enjoy listening to someone share their grieves and fears, their joys and dreams, their sorrows and laughter. That connection awakens me and reminds me I too am a human being in need of a human touch.

And then, walking in downtown Montreal with so many people walking past me, bumping into me or getting knocked and bruised by a purse, shopping bag or backpack,   I sometimes feel I need a full body armor before stepping out the front door. On a few occasions, when walking with someone, I have to take a few skips just to keep up with them. Hearing comments like, “Why are you walking so slow?” Or, having them grab my arm and push me to the side to make the person behind me go ahead of me.

There you have it. The reputation and image that I believed defined me as patient and relaxed. Until…

Walking on the sidewalks in Colombia and encountering what I can only describe as a VERY OVERWHELMING SLOW pace movement of the legs. Their whole body shakes and they seem to waddle from left to right before actually taking a step forward.

For about three weeks, I was faced with the challenge of trying to make my way to get to a 15 minute destination without it taking an hour. I kept dodging them all by sneaking between two people. With all the fruit and avocado stands along the sidewalks, I very often would run into someone who decides to come to a complete stop to buy some fruit. This is where I did my best fancy footwork to retain balance and avoid the collision. I literally hopped from one foot to the next, creating my own personal salsa dance. Yes, I did want to yell out, “Can you just walk!”

Then, last week a neighbor was telling me about a place called, “La Suiza” where you can get the most amazing Tiramisu. I had never noticed it but, apparently it was along the main street where I walked almost everyday.

Now, I had commented on the walking pace in Colombia to her. She had never said anything except smile. On this particular day, she said,

“Tomorrow, don’t worry so much about your destination. Take your time to enjoy the walk and love where you are. You’ll get there but, be happy and peaceful getting there. It’ll be that much more satisfying!”

Slowly, as she spoke, I became conscious of a side deep inside me I never realized before. On some level, I too fell into the busy trap just as much as anyone else. The worst part was admitting that I often am in a hurry for no real reason except to be in a hurry.

  • I almost quit my Spanish courses because I wasn’t fluent after two weeks.
  • I get impatient standing in line.
  • And, I get frustrated when someone is walking slowly in front of me, even when it’s not an emergency.

Yup, I also fell into the trap of believing that if I’m not busy and don’t get things done in a short amount of time, I was unproductive and lazy.

Wow! This was huge for me.

Coming from a society where everything is a rush, where almost every minute of a day is planned, where the busiest person is valued and considered important and successful, living among a very spontaneous cultural, where very little plans are made, one’s first thought would be, “How do these people get anything done in life?”

This raised a very important question for me.

If this is true, why are there so many people suffering from depression, anxiety and burnouts?

Followed by two other questions.

Is it possible to slow down and still get things done?

Do we feel guilty about having free time to just BE?

I don’t have all the answers to these questions. I’m NOT suggesting we give up on our aspirations. From my own experience, I did come to know one thing. The times when I did slow down, relax and savor the moment, were the times I felt fully alive, energetic and got my best work done.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”

– Lao Tzu

being busy accomplish more

This realization has been both a blessing and liberation.

If you feel your life has become a never ending to-do list, I encourage you to take a step back, consider slowing down and not feel guilty about having free time. It may involve letting go of some projects or tasks in a day. Pick a few that are most important and put your attention on those few. Give yourself time to appreciate and enjoy every moment without rushing through an activity just to get to another one. Most importantly, take time to just be. Enjoy your own company. Give yourself permission to look inside, no matter what you may find, even if it’s a ‘dark’ side. Embrace it, accept it, be with it. The best accomplishments come from learning to confront and work with our ‘dark’ sides. We learn to let go of shame and guilt and makes us feel alive. We unleash our true value and strength and gain courage to live from our fullest true self. We become in control, instead letting our environment control us.

“In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.”- Eckhart Tolle

I’d love to hear from you. Why did we end up living such busy lives? Maybe some of your answers can help to inspire us to slow down and enjoy our life’s journey!

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This entry was posted in Cleansing Your Beliefs and tagged , .

17 Responses to Does Being Busy Make You Accomplish More?

  1. Sharon Bott says:

    Oh so true Antonia. Thank you for the reminder. And the irony is that we generally don’t get there any faster for all that hurrying. And we forget to be grateful …

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Sharon,

      Glad it was a reminder, I still need this as reminder myself:) I agree, being grateful helps in slowing down and being present in the moment. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Robin says:

    I used to be very patient. Waiting in lines or traffic jams never bothered me. I was often late for work. When I was a little girl, my father called me “1 Speed” He said I only had one speed, slow. I still don’t like to make plans, I’m the “Let’s play it by ear” kind of girl. I still don’t like to be on someone else’s time table. I have always and still do literally stop and smell the roses and admire nature.
    But since I discovered my true life calling in coaching and teaching a couple of years ago, I now feel an intensity that I never did before. I feel an exhilaration in speed. My husband tells me that I drive too fast. While walking in a store I don’t have the patience to wade through a crowded aisle, I’ll go around through a different less crowded one. It frustrates me when there are “no turn on red” signs at intersections where there is no reason for it. I just feel this intensity that I need to get there! Now! I feel like I want to get what I have been learning out there to as many people as I can, as quickly as I can… (I don’t know how driving fast will help facilitate that, I guess it won’t.) So my “rushing” isn’t just trying to get as many things done as possible, it’s more like, I never discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was 49, now I guess I feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time.

  3. Angela says:

    Too true…I need constant reminder to slow down and take a look at the scenery. I guess that was just how I was raised – tough to break the trait!

    • Antonia says:

      It is tough to break the trait, Angela:) I need a constant reminder as well, but it does get easier:)

  4. Lina Montes says:

    Antonia, I really needed to read this. Last week I sat for 3 hours in the waiting room of a doctor’s office for my 5 year old daughter who had an ear infection. At first, I was so frustrated about the fact that this kind of wait is unacceptable and inconsiderate, especially when it comes to our health and the health of children. I still feel this way but, that day, was probably the first time in a very long time that I watched my daughter being herself. She was playing with some the toys they have there and putting blocks together to build things. I had never noticed this side of her, her creative side, her patience with putting things together. She was so calm and peaceful. I’m always rushing my daughter to go places. It starts with school, then rush to eat, the rush for dance classes…It’s all about her having to do as much as she can, so that one day she can be successful and have a good future. I never took the time to really know her, what she likes, who she is. This is a wake call for me. I can’t control her future. It’s time to slow down and let her be. Thank you!

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Lina,

      I don’t have children of my own. Thank you for this up and sharing your personal experience:) I know a parent only wants what’s best for their child, sometimes just letting them be and discovering themselves, letting them grow and develop through their trial and errors is a wonderful gift!

  5. Pamina says:

    I can so relate to this article Antonia. I live in a developing country where the pace is slow. Often this is great – you have time to savor life. Sometimes (like when you’re trying to get something done, it’s incredibly frustrating)! Then when I’m in a fast forward first world environment, I am amazed at the addiction to busyness (and the ill health that often goes with it). And I agree with Victoria, that it’s oh, so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that busy = value.

    It really is a question of balance isn’t it? Easier said than done. I think it’s helpful to have lived in two very diverse cultures, because you can use the excesses of one to balance out the excesses of the other, and therefore stand a better chance of using your tools, instead of having them use you 🙂

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Pamina,

      Thanks for bringing up the very important point about balance. So true, slowing down doesn’t mean we become zombies:) It’s all about being in the present moment and giving your attention to what ever you’re working on without stressing yourself to rush to another project or activity. Thanks for the reminder:)

  6. Claudia says:

    C’est vrai que tu es très calme.Pour moi ,je trouve que l’environnement ,les réseaux sociaux,l’argent fait de sorte que les gens sont stressé et ne pense pas au moment présent .Les gens ce crée des besoins à cause des pubs ,des voisins etc,les patrons sont très exigeants et ne pense qu’à l’argent .
    Pour ma part j’essaie de respirer mieux,mediter et profiter de toutes les joie que la vie m’apporte.
    Tu es une inspiration Antonia.

    • Antonia says:

      Claudia, merci d’avoir partager tes pensées! je suis totalement d’accord, l’argent fait de sorte que les gens sont stressé et ne pense pas au moment présent. Je te félicite de profiter de toutes les joie que la vie t’apporte!

  7. Victoria says:

    “Why do we end up living busy lives?” The answer I have come up with from my own experience is that if we are busy we are valuable and important! It’s a distraction from not being truly happy with our lives. We try to create meaning in our lives by keeping ourselves busy. I was raised to believe that in order to build a future for myself, I had to keep busy. So, I too became guilty of the busy trap. Until, my health collapsed and I began to question this belief. Slowing down helped me to reconnect with myself and make positive changes in my life. I realized that I am more valuable by doing the things that matter to me most, not by draining myself.

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Victoria,

      I totally agree, keeping busy is a distraction from our true self! Thank you for sharing your experience. I believe that we all get some kind of ‘wake up call’ trying to tell us to slow down and reconnect with ourselves. Thanks for reminding us all to pay attention and listen when we get the call, instead of hanging up and ignoring it. Happy to hear about the positive changes you’ve made in your life!

  8. Antonia says:

    Hi Jean,

    Hope this can help…we all have the same time, it’s all about how we chose to use it. A few things I learned to have some quiet time without having to ‘make’ time.
    1. When you wash your hands, brush your teeth, wash the dishes…feel the water on your hands, be in the moment without letting your thoughts drift off.
    2. When you get in your car, before you start driving, take just 10 seconds to become aware of where you are with no thoughts.
    3. When waiting in a line up or in traffic, just be.

  9. Chas says:

    “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail.” ~John Muir

  10. jean kukla says:

    Very good advice! I can certainly relate to this…Rat race! It’s wise to take time just to be in harmony with yourself…If I can only fine the time…Gracias!