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Are you too busy to ever get anything done? When did life get to the point where we all need to be on all the time?

What exactly is taking up so much of our time that we can’t finish our work, clean our homes, or take care of ourselves? Why do we feel the need to check our phone before we even roll out of bed? Why do we bring work home and are back “at work” at 10 p.m. or later?

If you’re too busy, you might be stuck in one of these traps:

You are addicted to your email – you let your incoming email interrupt whatever you are doing, as if what is coming in is more important that what you are working on now.

You are addicted to your cell phone – you will jump to look at and respond to every ring, beep, or buzz; no matter who you are with or what it may be interrupting.

You can’t make yourself turn off your phone (desk or smart) – you will answer every incoming call, as if you have nothing else to do and were just sitting around waiting for the next incoming call.

You can’t find what you are looking for. Your desk/briefcase/car is awash with papers, files, supplies and other ‘stuff’, and you spend way too much time shifting, sifting and shuffling.

You have an open door policy – and people take advantage of it. Colleagues and co-workers stop by your door and interrupt you with ‘just one quick question’ or some non-work related gossip.

The next thing you need to do on this project can’t be done because you don’t have that piece you need from the other department because the person who was supposed to work on it was on vacation/out sick/busy and you didn’t know that.

You aren’t sure what you are supposed to do next, and instead of asking anyone, you dive into some piece of the project and only discover later that that part was already done by someone else.

You go online to research a topic and get distracted by chasing various links down many rabbit holes. Three hours later, you still don’t have what you went to find anyway (if you can even remember what it was).

You are working without deadlines, so either everything has a deadline of right now or nothing is urgent until you have heard from at least three people looking for your input.

You are spending your time in meeting after meeting after meeting, all designed to provide status updates, but no one has any time to do any of the work because they are spending all their time updating the status in the status meeting.

And we wonder why we don’t get anything done.

Now, you may think I was exaggerating the scenarios described here, but look around. I have seen each and every one of those things happen in just the last few months – with clients, friends and colleagues.

How often have you been interrupted today? When was the last time you had lunch with a colleague that wasn’t interrupted at all by the ring/beep/buzz of a cell phone? How many meetings have you sat through with your phone under the lip of the table reading your email (or you have seen others do this)? Did you think no one noticed?

Sometimes I think we are operating as if the world will simply stop spinning if we turn off the phone, power down the computer, clear off the desk and just focus on one thing for a while. Well, it won’t! Life will go on. The world will keep doing what the world does.

Sure, you might get an extra email asking you why you didn’t immediately respond to the first one. Would that be so terrible?

Are we really that addicted to instant everything that we can’t just stop and turn off all the distractions for a while? Have we completely destroyed our capacity for focus?

The sad thing is, we are all feeling really busy all of the time. The stress we feel is real and the low level of anxiety and perpetual overwhelm are exhausting. This pervasive culture of interruptions is one of the reasons corporate executives report they feel lucky if they get forty-five minutes of really productive work done in a day. Also, that forty-five minutes is scattered throughout the day like confetti!

I remember a businessman I knew years ago who traveled a lot. He said he got more done in the two hour car ride to or from the airport than he could have done had he been in his own office.

The joke at one point was that his assistant was going to hire a town car just to drive him around for a few hours when he really had to get a big project done.

Dan Kennedy says “if they can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you”. You might want to look at how you could make yourself scarce occasionally. Turn off the phone. Turn off the email. Close your door (or leave your office). Give yourself the gift of some uninterrupted time to think and to work on what is important to you and your business.

Everything else will still be there, waiting, when you return.


This article was originally published on and has been reposted with permission. It was written by Terry Monaghan of Time Triage.