How to Thrive in a World of Too Much

Busy, busy, so busy. Is that your answer to “how are you?” most of the time? If you are always too busy, you have not understood it, says Business Psychologist Tony Crabbe, writer of Busy: how to thrive in a world of too much. Another, yet breakthrough and must-read management book for all, with strategies for a less hectic professional and social life. For everyone: top managers and stay at home mums and dads.

“There is nothing wrong with leading a full, active life; it’s good for you”, says Crabbe who works for multinationals Microsoft and Disney. It’s the constant state of busyness these days that is the problem that needs resolving; feeling pressured and overwhelmed are issues that won’t go away, in fact they will only get worse if you don’t take control.

In his book Crabbe paints a picture of the day of an average working person in 2015 (which I think not only resonates with a ” full time office worker” but also with many part-time or stay-at-home parents); check email during breakfast, a feeling of running after the facts sets in straight away, being  interrupted a lot, constantly being on the phone, after a long day putting the kids to bed grumpy and tired,  checking email again after dinner, not having the peace of mind to relax and read  a book, too little time to see a friend, no energy to play sports, half an hour of Facebook or internet, a glass of wine, another one, a restless night, do it all again the next day: the first thing you do when you open your eyes will be checking your mobile phone. The result: a constant feeling of failing your partner and family, your health, your career, your personal goals, friends, employer…. yourself. Sound familiar?

The solution for being busy is not what you expect: it is not to have more time to relax or have a long holiday (although this will help short term!). The solution, according to Crabbe, is to focus on what you do, and to be connected in that moment without distractions. To get the most out of your day, manage your attention not your time. A simple but eyeopening question Crabbe and his wife ask each other at the end of a busy day: ‘Did you ‘process’ the kids, or did you have fun with them?’

In his 300 page book Crabbe explains it in more detail. He sets out the solutions to get more control over your life in four key strategies; 1) Mastery: take back ownership and control your life 2) Focus on the important parts, forget about the rest 3) Engagement: being connected and in the moment: redefine what success means to you, reconnect with your work and life based on intrinsic values 4) Momentum: implement and apply positive change to last.

The book is packed with practical advice how we respond to our world of too much.  For example, we should:

Stop managing your time. We are now at a point where it is no longer possible to do it all, or to get on top: there is just too much to do. Time management makes us splinter time into ever smaller fragments; it makes us cram and squeeze activity into every second of our wakefulness; it makes us busier. In doing so, it stops us thinking and breathing.  As a result, time management is part of the problem, not the solution!

Stop being so productive. It used to be that the biggest management challenge was how to get people to work hard. Now that problem is solved; everyone works hard. Yet, for some reason we persist in playing the ‘more game’: assuming that if we produce more than others, if we respond more quickly, we will succeed. We won’t. In fact, rampant productivity is a weak substitute for genuine impact and differentiation; the things that matter in the information economy.

Stop justifying busy. Busy is self-defeating. We tell ourselves that we are busy so we can succeed, either for our loved ones or for our happiness. But as we get caught up in endless busyness, we disconnect from the relationships and the activities that matter most to us. As we disconnect, more and more, we damage the very relationships and happiness we were trying to improve.

Stop having so many friends. Social media is wonderful and helps us maintain distant relationships that would otherwise wither; but there is also a downside: it is yet another demand to manage. In simple terms, the greatest psychological benefit from relationships doesn’t come from the many but the few. In actual fact, aiming to be popular is bad for you, from a health and happiness perspective! Crabbe claims that 15 friends is all you need.

Buy it for yourself, read it (while sipping a champagne) and then give it to your partner for Christmas! The whole family will benefit ♥

Book: How to Thrive in a World of Too Many, Tony Crabbe
Website: Tony Crabbe
Original source: NRC