The Secret to Finding the Elusive Balance Between Busy and Happy

collage of balance

Let’s face it. We have a love-hate relationship with being busy. We want more free time but are quick to jam-pack our calendars and flaunt the bling of our busy status.

While busyness has become a badge of honor to be admired and applauded, at the heart of it, busyness seems a human way to assert that you exist, to prove you matter. I do, therefore I am — which can quickly morph into, I do more, therefore I am better.

University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson studies how people use their time for a living. He’s even called “Father Time” by his colleagues, and he discovered that the happiest people actually balance busy schedules by not feeling rushed. Only about a tenth of Americans attain this elusive balance, and that might be because we’re inclined to trick ourselves into enjoying busyness for more than it’s worth.

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Stop Spreading Busyness Like the Flu

busyness at train station

Busyness has become such a sign of our times that there’s a trend in architecture of drawing blurry people on the move for office project designs. Apparently it’s a visual that clients can identify with “on an emotional level.”

While you might recognize yourself in that blurry state of being, consider how limiting busyness can be as a state of mind. Since you start coming across as irritable, impatient, and anxious, you start to close yourself off from others. It’s hard to connect with someone who’s a physical or mental blur that can’t sit still for a minute and feels like there’s no time.

One of the toughest part of falling into the busy trap is that you become preoccupied with your own busyness, and you might not realize that you’re spreading your busyness affliction to everyone around you.

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The Science Behind Why You Procrastinate In The Afternoon (and How To Stop)

4 ways to beat the afternoon slump

It’s 3 p.m. and you find yourself struggling to focus on work. You can’t seem to stop checking Facebook. Instead of being productive, you welcome distractions like text messages and co-workers coming by to chat.

Welcome to the afternoon slump: that time in your workday when your brain refuses to cooperate with you and you can’t stop procrastinating.

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Rethinking Productivity as Choreography

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Despite the profusion — or distraction — of helpful productivity advice, sometimes I feel like I’m trying to squeeze my working style into systems that just won’t fit. That’s why I appreciate ways of thinking about productivity that encourage you to align how you work with your natural inclinations and work rhythms.

When you’re stressing about how you’re not getting enough done, it’s easy to stop listening to yourself and to ignore those rhythms. Psychiatrist Dr. T. Byram Karasu points out the cost of such heedlessness:

Like all of nature, human beings are biologically programmed. Our psyche’s interference with the physical rhythms and cycles is detrimental to our bodies, only to be negatively resonated, in return. This vicious circle is a distinctly human phenomenon. No other living creature steps out of pace with nature and survives. Chronobiology (the biology of time) asserts that our bodies have an internal rhythm or music, which we not only can but should tune in to.

Being productive isn’t about a continuous, speedy march from waking to sleeping, though it can certainly feel that way. What if instead, the ideal was not just about crushing your to-do lists but attunement, aiming not for time and task management but for tempo management?

Can you choreograph your day and set your movements to your internal rhythm and music?

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The 3-Part Recipe to Stop Working Around the Clock and Beat the Rat Race

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Humans are not machines.

This is stating the obvious, but the obvious hasn’t seemed to sink in. We organize our work days as if we were machines, never turning off even when we get home.

These work habits are erroneous, unhelpful, and unhealthy.

When the Huffington Post polled 1,000 people on their work habits and routines, the results show just how far we’ve tilted the scales to a machine-like existence:

  • 60% take 20 minutes or less for lunch.
  • 25% never leave their desk.
  • 66% fail to take their allotted vacation
  • 25% leave at least a week’s worth of vacation unused each year

And to top it all off, 33 percent spend less than half an hour a day completely disconnected from email.

This isn’t a sustainable work style.

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Want to Be More Productive? Design a Better Work Break

What do you do when you take a break during your workday?

When I ask people this question, most of them tell me they get on their smartphones or visit various websites:  news publications, Facebook, Instagram, and other online sources of information and entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with doing that — sometimes looking at pictures of cute baby animals is exactly what you need to get through the afternoon.

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But have you ever thought “I’ll just check Facebook for a couple of minutes” and then look up shocked to realize a half hour has gone by? Or notice after catching up with news or social media that you’re returning to work feeling more tired or unfocused than you did before your work break?

Bringing awareness to how you’re spending your time and matching your activities with how you want to feel will lead to better quality work breaks that provide the energy, focus, and creativity you need for your day.

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More Energy at Work! The Best of the Internet

Before your relaxing weekend, check out some of the best of what we shared on the interwebs this week:

One snippety tool that companies like Foursquare, Buzzfeed, and Shopify use

How crafting media empire Annie’s uses iDoneThis

De-stress in 15 minutes

How to REST YO’ SELF for more energy at work.

imageDundee’s Tips of the Week:  Did you miss our exclusive content in the iDoneThis weekly newsletter? Sign up here!

 

5 Tips to Make the Most of Your Company Retreat

iDoneThis company retreat

If you’ve ever had to suffer through trust fall exercises or offsites that try to make over ugly corporate morale in one go, you probably dismiss company retreats as a waste of time and money.

Yet the company retreat remains one concrete strategy that startups employ to fuel their success. When you work for a startup, where every day is basically a trust fall, a company retreat is not just a superficial motivational exercise in decreeing “let’s do better” but an opportunity to take a step back and realign, rethink, and break down how to do better.

In July, iDoneThis went on a week-long team trip to downtown Las Vegas to do just that. While we’d visited before to connect with Zappos and the Downtown Project, this year things are a bit different:  our CEO Walter lives in Vegas and we’re proud to be in the Vegas Tech Fund portfolio alongside exciting companies like Zirtual, LaunchBit, and Skillshare.

We had a fantastic time connecting with the Vegas startup and Downtown Project community, working out some of our own company kinks, and of course, having fun. We thought we’d share some tips on what made our all-hands trip effective to consider for your own company retreats, offsites, or meetups!

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Shut Up and Listen! The Best of the Internet

Doggies at workHappy Friday! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week!  

3 Reasons to Shut up and Listen Well.

Self-control depletes itself and your motivation. How to refuel from within.

5 hard questions to ask yourself during a conflict.

Why your phone is snuffing your creativity (and is like an endless supply of Cheetos).

The perks at Buffer? Daily improvement and free books.

Dundee’s Tip of the Week:  Hey IDT teams! Do you only want to see certain team members show up in your email digest? Log into iDoneThis, and under the calendar, click on “unfollow” or “follow” to choose whose dones you want to see in your digest.

Video: How to Stop Hitting That Snooze Button!

Here’s the science on why you should stop hitting that snooze button. Alarms and snooze buttons disrupt our sleep cycles, which include a natural ability to wake up. This causes less restful sleep and less energy to be your awesome self during the day.

Managing our energy levels and syncing with our natural rhythms are key to feeling great and doing your best. So try to get on a regular sleep schedule, and if you still need an alarm, set it for later, and go to sleep a little earlier!