Keeping Busy

It wouldn’t be very surprising if I said the more I’m able to keep busy, the more I’m able to accomplish. That only makes sense, right? That the more time you put into production, the more results that are going to come out on the other end. Yet, keeping busy has a few more added bonuses than that, bonuses that only until recently did I learn to discover firsthand.

Like some of you reading this, I used to constantly be in need of down-time. Whether it was a long day at work or I just had a busy event planned that evening, down-time was something I always looked forward to getting after a long hard day, and for good reason too. Keeping busy was never something I did by choice, but rather something I always did out of necessity, something that I was forced to do because I had such a hectic schedule. I loved having a free day where I could just lounge around all day because that’s when I could REALLY work on getting caught up with things that I had fallen behind on…

… or was it the other way around?

See, over time I begin noticing a strange pattern in my life, and although it didn’t make sense at first glance, I’m now able to understand it perfectly: keeping busy leads to results, and keeping free time leads to procrastination.

Days that I didn’t have to work or I didn’t have anything planned, I’d tell myself how I was going to get up early and get so many things accomplished, that by the end of the day I could feel good knowing everything was fulfilled and taken care of. Yet, it never seemed to work out that way strangely enough, as I’d wake up and instantly start wasting time doing nothing productive at all.

Checking email, browsing the web, listening to music, throwing in a video game, watching a movie, and probably anything you can think of BUT keeping busy. Even though I’d woken up with a mental list of chores I was going to accomplish, I seemed to continually put everything off for as long as I could until the day slowly passed and nothing was getting done at all. I couldn’t really understand why I was lacking the drive to accomplish things that I normally got done. I wasn’t lazy, was I? I had a clear list and I knew what needed to be done, but somewhere along the lines something was stopping me from doing what needed to be done, and instead of keeping busy and having a productive day, I ended up with a day of laziness and no results to show for it whatsoever.

What gives?

The Importance of Keeping Busy

What gives is that I spent the entire day thinking I could get everything done “another time” until I realized that there was no other time. I’d keep pushing everything aside because I thought I had all the time in the world, and that if I wasn’t in the mood to do things now, I’d get them done later in the day. If I DID try and get things done early, it would move at a grudgingly slow pace, as I had no real drive or motivation to accomplish anything at that particular time when I could be doing something more enjoyable, and even though I was being productive, I almost felt as if I was wasting my own time.

I found out that one of the things keeping busy does for me is that it forces me to manage my time much more wisely. I simply don’t have the luxury to procrastinate when I’m constantly on a schedule. Of course, the natural tendency is to think that keeping busy means LESS time to accomplish other things, and that we’re going to be intensely stressed or struggling for time at every corner. For some people that may be true, people that put too much on their plate, but for most, keeping busy and managing a timely schedule will ensure you get a lot more accomplished, even things you didn’t think you previously had time for.

Why?

Because keeping busy forces you to get things done right away and it lets you know that if you miss the deadline on something you probably won’t get a second shot at it.

For example, when I used to have a bunch of free time, I’d always wake up with the intentions of exercising right away in the morning, but more often than not I’d either start exercising sometime later in the day, or it simply wouldn’t happen at all. Yet how could that be… I’ve had the entire day to get this done, and what excuse could I really have for being so lazy?

I simply procrastinated and things just never got done. End of story.

Yet fast forward to the next day when I had to be at work at 10am, and suddenly I’m up at 7am going for a run and hitting the weights first thing out of bed. I knew I wouldn’t be home until about 7pm, and that after work I’d be way too exhausted to even think about going for a run, so if things didn’t get done right away, they wouldn’t be getting done at all.

Keeping Busy = Less Time, More Results

As I kept packing more and more into my schedule, it became apparent that I was getting much more accomplished than I actually thought possible. Things that I’d normally put off until “another day” I was taking care of right away, and I soon discovered that keeping busy was my biggest ally against wasted time.

You probably have the tendency to think that in keeping busy, the less time you’ll have to invite other outside factors into your life. Maybe lunch with a friend, going to the gym, taking up dancing, or anything else, really. It’s easy to think that with a bunch of spare time you can accomplish all of these things and more, yet rarely does it work out that well. Sure, you may be incredibly disciplined and take on these activities anyways, but if that were the case you wouldn’t be stuck with a bunch of free time on your hands to begin with.

The thing is, when it comes to keeping busy, you don’t have to swamp yourself down and feel like you’re trapped under mountains of work to be considered “productive.” Keeping busy can be anything, not just work, but the key word there is “busy.” That is, you should try and be actively doing something other than sitting around, whether it’s work related, school related, or just an activity you normally never make time for. Keeping busy is about knocking out as many activities as you can in a forward fashion; or in other words, jumping from one activity to the next.

Yet realize that keeping busy isn’t just about being in “go” mode all day long, and it’s certainly not about feeling burnt out all day long either. Keeping busy should never have you feeling swamped, as there’s a big difference in having a schedule that’s too consuming and a schedule that’s simply fulfilling. Having a fulfilling schedule gives you time to accomplish everything you need to accomplish, and helps you see to getting these things done. Being swamped will bog you down and tire you out, and after time stress will increase while motivation will decrease. Rather, the key to keeping busy is to consistently make sure you have enough to do so that you never feel the need to procrastinate and bring your life to a halt. That’s ultimately the big picture here, and the main driving factor behind keeping busy in the first place: to avoid becoming stagnant and losing time to nothingness.

Keeping Busy = Fulfillment

Keeping busy also leads to a much more fulfilling lifestyle. When I can wake up and immediately start my day without having any spouts of wasted time thrown in here or there, then I immediately begin to feel better about myself. I feel more confident in my actions and what I’ve accomplished, and I actually feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

When I wake up and don’t really do much of anything, despite having a complete list of things to do, then I start the day off feeling lazy, lethargic, unsuccessful, and usually bored too. These thoughts and emotions are what carry me throughout the day, and there’s nothing worse than getting off on the wrong foot and having that set the tone for everything else that happens. Of course, part of the balance in keeping busy is finding that medium between fulfillment and down-time — knowing what the best course of action for yourself is.

What’s even better is, if you have been keeping busy all day, when it comes time to relax and kick back it feels that much more satisfying. I find it’s pretty hard to relax and enjoy yourself when you have a list of things running through your mind that you know you need to do, and even harder when you realize that you could have already had them done by now.

Ultimately though, keeping busy is about being fulfilling to yourself and the standards you hold. If you’re content with just watching the time flow by and not having anything to show for it then by all means, be happy with that. Keeping busy isn’t about pushing yourself to exhaustion; rather it’s about MOVING FORWARD as opposed to not moving at all. It doesn’t matter the speed at which you move, it just matters that you keep going in the right direction and continue to do the things you want to do. If you want to write a novel, start a new exercise program, pick up a new job, or begin a new hobby you’ve never experienced before, just start MOVING and let it carry you there. Don’t sit around and wait for things to fall in your lap, but rather strive to accomplish everything that you know you’re capable of.

There are way too many experiences to be had in life to just spend your time sitting on the couch all morning long or wasting away hours in front of the television. Even if you cringe at the thought of keeping busy all day, you at least owe it to yourself to try a new experience for once or to know what you’re really capable of.

I doubt you’ll be disappointed with the results you see.