My wife, Debbie, and I attend our share of social gatherings. Lately, I’ve begun to notice that when we encounter people we haven’t seen in while and the obligatory ice-breaking question, “How are you doing?” gets asked, the most common, nearly reflexive response from people is, “I’m crazy busy.”

As author and leadership expert Michael Hyatt points out, in a culture that increasingly values preoccupation and overcommitment, “crazy busy” has almost become a statement of validation, reinforcing that I am significant and that what I am doing is important.

But this addiction to personal drivenness comes at a steep cost.

By José Martín | unsplash.com

For some, it can lead to health problems, divorce, substance abuse, or emotional breakdown. For others, it can slowly steal their peace and lead to a “dumbed down” lifestyle where meaning is suppressed and the heart is rarely engaged.

The antidote, according to David Allen, author of the blockbusting productivity book, Getting Things Done, is gaining a sense of control and perspective over your life.

If you find yourself mired in the “crazy busy” trap, here are three restorative habits that will help bring balance and purpose to your work and life.

  1. Schedule thinking time. Years ago, we lived in a subdivision that was located near our local airport. I can recall as I sat in the window seat flying home from a business trip what a completely different perspective I had looking down on my neighborhood from three thousand feet verses ground level. Similarly, scheduling time alone to think and process your life delivers the same sense of perspective that you rarely experience at “runway level.” Try setting aside a few hours every month to simply think. It will seem weird at first, but as Harvey Firestone said, “If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need and there isn’t any limit to what you can do with your business and your life.”  Those ideas simply won’t come when you’re addicted to urgency.
  2. Keep a journal. Three years ago a mentor challenged me to keep a journal. Which, after my initial resistance, has turned out to be a game changer in keeping me from succumbing to what leadership blogger Bill Zipp calls, “the rising tide of demands, details, and deadlines.” I typically journal three to four times per week. The discipline of recording my thoughts helps me gain greater focus, unravel thorny problems, process negative emotions, and maintain a balanced perspective on my work and life. To learn more, check out Michael Hyatt’s post, The 7 Benefits Of Keeping A Daily Journal.
  3. Create a life plan. As author Daniel Harkavy, says in his outstanding book, Becoming a Coaching Leader, “Most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do planning their lives.” As as result, they drift along, ending up at destinations they never would have chosen: a failed marriage, a health crisis, or an aimless career path. Creating a written life plan is a powerful process that puts you in control of setting clear priorities for every area of your life. Having created my own life plan five years ago (I update it twice a year), it has become one of the most useful tools for me in living a more intentional and productive life. For more inspiration, read Michael Hyatt’s 7 Reasons Why You Need A Life Plan.

Sure, there will be seasons in our lives when we run at full throttle — but they should be the exception, not the rule. Resisting the temptation to wear busyness as a badge of honor and pursue an intentional lifestyle driven by clear priorities can be one of the biggest difference makers in your life!

My challenge to you: Pick one of the three initiatives listed above and try it for 30 days. If you truly commit yourself, I guarantee you will feel differently about your personal effectiveness.

What do you think? What would it mean to your life to gain greater control and perspective? Leave me a comment.