Busy or productive? That is the question. It doesn’t matter if you are working your way up the corporate ladder at a big firm or managing a family as a stay at home parent or grandparent. We get busy.
I find it odd that when asked “Hey, how are you?” that most of us usually say “Busy!” I know, because that was my go-to answer every time someone asked me that. It was almost as if my worth was tied up in how much I could cram into one day without passing out.
Enter Garland Vance and his genius book Gettin’ (un) Busy
In his five steps to kill busyness, I discovered the three P’s. Purpose, Productivity, and Peace. Who doesn’t want that? I no longer wanted to answer “busy” when people asked how I was doing. Garland has convinced me that busyness is a bad word.
Maybe you’re like I was and thinking, “What’s so bad about busyness?” In order to answer that, you need to know what busyness is: it’s an overcommitment to too many good commitments. In other words, you’re not busy because of bad obligations. Instead, you probably have too many good things to do.
That’s actually part of Garland’s story that drew me to the book. Garland says that he was born a high achiever. “My mother had a heart condition that should have prevented her from ever having children. But she got pregnant with me, and I was her only child. I knew from the moment I was born that I had achieved more than anyone thought possible! But I also created a lot of Inhibiting Beliefs that convinced me that I had to exceed everyone’s expectations — including my own.”
Back in 2013, Garland started experiencing some major medical challenges: chronic migraine headaches, heart palpitations, forgetfulness, and exhaustion. He went to the doctor to find out what was going on.
During the visit, Garland told the doctor about his life:
– working 50-60 hours each week leading a ministry of Chick-fil-A
– Spending 10-20 hours every week working on his doctorate in leadership
– Traveling 60 days per year with work and school
– Having 3 young kids at home who required time, energy, and attention
– Partnering with his wife to develop a leadership program at their church
After he described his life, the doctor told Garland that he was stressed out from busyness. He said, “Garland if you don’t kill busyness, it will kill you.”
Garland ended up shifting the focus of his doctoral work to study the effects of busyness on high-capacity leaders. For his own sake — and for other busy leaders — he wanted to figure out how to help driven, Type A people stress less but accomplish more.
He discovered 5 steps that every leader (including parents) must go through to replace their stress, exhaustion, and overwhelm with Purpose, Productivity, and Peace:
1. Decide to get (un)busy
2. Deconstruct beliefs, habits and commitments that keep you trapped in busyness
3. Design the life you want to live around your dreams and priorities
4. Develop an (un)busy calendar, mind, and habits
5. Draw in your family, friends, and coworkers
I talked to Garland recently and asked him what affects he thinks the quarantine had on busyness. Here’s his response: “At first, the quarantine forced everyone to slow down. No more commute to work or kids’ baseball practice every night. We couldn’t even go to church or out to eat. (un)Busyness was forced on us. But a lot of people used this time to add new hobbies, activities, and work projects to fill their extra time. As life begins to go back to normal, most people will go back to their old ways of busyness…only now they’ve added even more commitments that they’ll have to manage. I think a lot of people will be shocked at how busy their lives get very quickly.”
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