When we feel busy, we tend to react by starting to hurry. We have so much to do, so we think we need speed up accordingly. We try to think faster, move quicker and get things done more rapidly. But did you know that when we hurry, we often feel that we are busy? We are running all over the place trying to plow through all the tasks we have on our to-do lists and since we are moving so fast then we feel we must be busy. Did you know that the feelings of being busy and the act of hurrying are both the reactions to stress?
Try this: whatever task that you are doing, do it twice as fast as you usually do it. Then keep this pace until the task is completed. Notice the way you feel when you are doing the task at normal speed, and then take note of the way you feel doing the task at double speed. No matter what you are doing, a boost in speed might feel fine at first, but if you keep increasing your speed and you keep up the fast pace, you are going to hit a point where you feel extremely rushed. Your heart rate is going to increase, your breathing will become shallower, your thoughts will race and your palms will become sweaty. Did you know that all those physical reactions are the same ones you have when you are stressed? That’s right, hurrying is both a stress trigger and a stress reaction.
When you feel extremely busy and when you are stressed, you get an adrenaline rush and your body and mind speed up the pace accordingly. Hurrying is your body’s reaction to stress. When you are not stressed yet you begin to rush anyway, you are telling your brain that you are in danger and that you need adrenaline right away. Then your brain sends out the adrenaline and you end up feeling stressed out. Hurrying will always provoke stress.
It’s common to say, “I am so busy today!” when what you really mean is, “I feel so extremely stressed out today!” It’s so common that we truly have a very hard time distinguishing between stress-induced situations or emotions and being busy. Even if you have enough time to complete your tasks without being in a hurry, if you start to hurry you are going to start feeling busy.
Stop the busy cycle and gain back control. What your goal should be is to become aware of your choice to hurry or not to hurry and to know when you are actually crunched for time and when you are just habitually behaving hurriedly. While your instinct is to hurry when we’ll begin to feel busy, it is really the start of our self-perpetuation busy cycle.
We feel busy, so we begin to hurry, that leads to feeling busy, which in turn makes us hurry and so on. All this leads to us feeling out of control. If you want to stop the busy cycle you must purposefully slow down, act with intention and mindfulness. When you are more mindful of your actions then you can choose when to pick up the pace rather than just doing so reflexively. This will let you allocate your resources like focus, effort and energy with precision, instead of letting them all run wild with the hopes that they will all last long enough to get all your tasks done.
Next time you feel the need to hurry up, try slowing down instead. Notice the effect it has on both your mind and your body and if it effects how busy you feel. If you can practice this over the next several days, see how it affects your sense of control and your overall energy levels.