It feels good to be busy. After all, it means that we are tackling tasks, making progress, moving forward. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes with being busy.
But the question arises: How busy is too busy?
Theoretically, we could work every waking second in the day and age of the mobile device. gyro’s @Work State of Mind report, conducted in conjunction with Forbes Insights, thoroughly examined the fact that work comes home and home comes to work. It’s just the way things are in today’s connected world.
Contrary to what we expected, many executives said continuously being connected made them feel more empowered and agile. The minority of the 543 executives surveyed said they felt overwhelmingly negative about this “always on” life. In many ways, we’ve gotten used to the pace of work and communication that didn’t exist less than a decade ago.
According to Tim Kreider’s recent New York Times post, “The Busy Trap,” excessive busyness is an emerging, yet central, value of American culture. Kruger asserts that the very idea of busyness makes us feel important and that it gives us a sense of worth—defined through endless activity.
As Krider states: “Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. They schedule in time with friends the way students with 4.0 GPAs make sure to sign up for community service because it looks good on their college applications.”
In terms of executives, gyro and Forbes Insights found that 98 percent of decision-makers work nights and weekends, 97 percent work on vacation and 53 percent will leave the dinner table to handle work if need be.
Some executives said they make better decisions at home because they have time to think. Others just wanted to be kept in the loop in case a problem arose.
Either way, there needs to be time to relax, recharge and rebalance. Without that necessary downtime, our ability to innovate lessens. Playing as well as working is necessary. Through playing, we discover new ideas. Through resting, we take the time needed to approach problems from new angles. The key to longer-term success and ultimately being content appears to be finding the balance for yourself between being busy and taking the time to rejuvenate.
As noted in my earlier article, “The Rise of Digital Detox,” the constant flood of information can become overwhelming. So much so, that unplugged vacation packages are surging in popularity, and free apps are on the rise that actually block us from working.
So what does it all mean? As technology evolves, so will we and the “how much is too much” debate will continue as will the discussions about the new work-life balance. All of these conversations will, well, continue to keep us busy as well.
Judy Abel is a Senior Strategist at gyro.
Follow her @tuffyabel