A mountain view with a gravel road in the foreground. Focus is on a red sign saying slow down.

How to Reduce the Busyness in Your Life

Is busyness a problem in your life? Do you find that at the end of each day, you’ve been busy but feel like you’ve not achieved anything meaningful? Do you have the feeling that you’ve wasted the day and that the important work has been avoided?

Busy work is the type of work that you do to feel better about avoiding the work you need to do.

Why do you want to change?

Understanding why you want to make changes helps to ease the process. Successful change is more likely if you have a clear idea of your motivation.

6 questions to help understand your motivation.

  1. What percentage of your day is spent in busyness?
  2. What do you feel you miss out on?
  3. How much would you benefit from spending more time on the answer to question 2?
  4. Do you already know why e.g. ADHD, autism?
  5. What would it feel like if you didn’t fill your time with ‘busy work’?
  6. How important do you feel it is to make some changes?

Immediate Change or Incremental Change?

There are two main routes to this kind of change: cold turkey or incremental change.

Cold turkey is good if you have an addiction to something, incremental changes are more manageable if you want to change habits that are not a severe addiction. Yes, I know that’s a bit simplistic, but for the purpose of this blog, we’ll stick to it.

Cold turkey needs a lot of motivation, a lot of willpower and support from other people. You can see some immediate benefits, but you could easily fall off the wagon.

With incremental change you can try minor changes, testing the waters to see small but significant benefits. As you continue making slight changes you will see the benefits compounding. It won’t take long to notice that you’ve stepped away from being busy all the time.

Additional Prompts for Neurodiversity

With some forms of neurodiversity understanding your motivation is a starting point. You may need to build in regular prompts.

Visual prompts work well for some people with ADHD (they may need regular refreshing so they remain visible). For people who hyperfocus, you may need to set alarms to provide a breakpoint to question yourself on whether you are working on the right things.

These prompts may be useful for everyone in the early days of the change process.

7 Things to Change

  1. Learn how to say no to people.
  2. Use a calendar to know your commitments. Allow some planning to happen in your life.
  3. Look at the most menial and time-consuming tasks. Can they be dropped, delegated, or systemised to save you time?
  4. Reduce dopamine pings. Those alerts on your device give you a dopamine hit every time you respond to them. Turn off all but the most urgent alerts.
  5. Put the time in your diary every day to do something that recharges your energy, even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
  6. Ask yourself each day “What have I done today to reduce my busyness? What will I do, or not do, tomorrow?”
  7. Monitor your social media use. Check how you feel after spending time on it.

You can download my 34 free productivity tips to get more details on what can be done to defeat busyness.

Reducing busyness will free up time. Your natural inclination may be to use this time to get more work done. I strongly suggest that you use some of the time you free up to do something you enjoy. Do something that recharges your energy and keeps you healthy.


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