It’s a New Year and I hope you are geared up for a phenomenal 2016. At the beginning of each year I notice magazine covers have new ways to lose those unwanted pounds, and every website and news station is providing “advice” on how to be successful this year and set the right goals. I’m going to try and hit a home run by giving you one piece of advice that can literally change how successful and happy you are in 2016. Right before Christmas, a friend asked me a poignant question. “If I was to focus on one thing this year that would help me be more successful and fulfilled, what would you suggest?
My answer: simplify your life and start scheduling laziness. What??? I know this goes against everything you have learned about productivity and success, but studies are proving that I am right!
How many times in 2015 did you tell someone how busy you were? “I am so busy!” you say. Too busy to meet for lunch, too busy to talk on the phone right now, too busy to watch your child do a somersault at gymnastics or kick the soccer ball around the field. You have emails to answer and phone calls to make. “Busy, busy, and busy!” Tim Krieder in his Lazy Manifesto stated, “busy is a boast disguised as a complaint where we expect congratulations for how busy we are. A frantic busy that is self-congratulatory, where we see our busyness as an affliction. “
Is this really what you want? I have come to realize that most busyness of my own busyness is self-imposed. We often choose the extra hours, the extra activities, and the extra’s in life that cause us to be so busy we may not have time for what is most important. We become addicted to busyness and the shot of adrenaline and the feeling of importance it gives us when we live such a frantic life. As Tim put it, “we feel guilty when we aren’t busy.”
Studies are showing that busyness may be keeping you from success and happiness.
My first suggestion this year is to move the needle at least 10 percent from busyness to something more important, more fulfilling, and something that leads to increased success. Busyness may be keeping you from actually stopping and thinking for a minute. Is there someone you should be connecting with or something that is more important to be thinking about? Are you giving in to short-term busyness to feel like you are accomplishing and progressing in life when really you are only trading being busy with focusing on what you may really want in life? Sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D., an expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, put it this way: “Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear.” Instead of viewing busyness as a sign of significance, top performers interpret busyness as an indication of wasted energy.
The big question is how you actually balance out your busyness. Ready for it? You schedule laziness and downtime. Yes, you put it in your hectic schedule to wind down and be lazy. The amount of time to be lazy varies according to different studies, but I suggest at least 3 times a week for ½ an hour to an hour each time. To stay at a high-performing level you need to give your brain and body a chance to rest and relax. When you don’t stress increases, brain functioning decreases and you become grumpy. Not the adjectives I would use to describe a successful and happy person. The best advice I can give is to TRY IT! Give it a go and see if it doesn’t make a big difference. Be proud of scheduling laziness. Let me know how it goes. Remember it is your life and career.