Some people perceive being “too busy” as a sign of success or a flourishing career. Although this can be true, being constantly overworked and overwhelmed has more detrimental than positive effects. It's gotten to the point where busy and exhausted has become a badge of honor. It's become a competitive sport to see who has worked longest, who is getting the least amount of sleep. The truth is, there is no correlation between how razor thin you are and your level of success. In fact, exhausted workers make 60% more mistakes than those who get 6-8 hours of sleep.
Stress can be helpful and motivating to some degree, but substantial evidence shows that chronic exposure to high levels of stress prompts the body to release hormones, which can potentially damage several body systems. Running on over-drive for prolonged periods of time not only depletes your health and wellness, it depletes the quality of your work, your relationships and yes, your level of actual success.
There is nothing wrong with fulfilling your responsibilities, obligations, and duties. However, you must know how to draw the line between working for a living and living for your work. Being “too busy” reduces the quality of your life. Remember that balance is key to everything. The secret to being productive and successful is balance in your life and in your daily routines. Here are some tools to unplug from work and plug in to yourself:
- Pay Attention. Allot five to 15 minutes before work to sit and be aware of the sensations of your breath and your body. When your mind wanders to something else, bring your attention back.Repeat as many times as necessary. Practiced regularly, this will build your mental muscles so you have improved attention during the workday.
- Take five. Whenever you feel stressed, use the "STOP sign technique." Stop. Take five conscious breaths. Observe the sensations of the body and notice what you're thinking and feeling. Proceed. This can be used liberally throughout the day for best results.
- Do one thing. Whenever possible, do one thing at a time. When the mind wanders away from what you're doing, bring it back. Repeat as many times as necessary. The brain cannot do more than one thing at a time.
- Time-outs. Take a short break (one to five minutes) every 90 to 120 minutes or whenever you feel stuck on a problem. Mindfully stretch, breathe, or walk. You'll come back refreshed and ready to tackle your work again.