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© Leah-Anne Thompson

'People who brag about being busy will always be average. They'll never accomplish anything'

For those wanting to take ownership of their life, Isaiah Hankel’s new book, The Science of Intelligent Achievement, explores how to overcome distractions and over-commitment.

THERE’S A RIGHT way and a wrong way to live. Feeling inspired and energised as you execute productive actions that lead to both the achievement of your goals and a sense of fulfillment is the right way to live.

Feeling constantly rushed and weighed down by other people’s demands and expectations is the wrong way.

No one ever sat on their deathbed wishing they had been busier. No one ever came to the end of their days begging for more time to do things that didn’t matter. The only way to live a happy and successful life is to stop being busy and start being selective.

Selectivity is the gateway to productivity—and productive people live long, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Busy people who passively fill up their lives with distractions, on the other hand, live short, stressful, and exhausting lives.

Busy people have mental breakdowns, become emotionally burnt-out, and are routinely manipulated by others. The reason busy people suffer so much is that busyness is a gateway to mediocrity, reduced expectations, and reduced willpower.

Busyness leads to giving up on your dreams, following others, and wasting your valuable mental energy levels. The only way to avoid the busy person’s fate is to understand where busyness leads. Once you know the pitfalls busy people face, you can adjust your life to avoid falling into them yourself.

Busy people become average

People who brag about being busy will always be average. They will never accomplish anything great or leave a legacy behind them. These people brag about busyness because nothing else in their lives is worth discussing. Being busy does not lead to achievement or fulfillment.

Just the opposite: Busyness prevents the very things it tries to signal.

If you’re so busy that you don’t have time to breathe, you may be wasting your life; you’re certainly wasting your time. You will never get anywhere in life without taking some time for yourself to sit down, look ahead, and see where you’re going.

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Busy people don’t make things happen

Things just happen to busy people. Life just happens to them. You want to flip that around: to be proactive instead of reactive, to do instead of be done upon. Effectiveness should be your goal, not busyness.

The problem is being busy feels good. The human brain loves feeling busy. You get a dopamine rush every time you cross off an item from your to-do list. It doesn’t matter if the item you’re crossing off is important or not, you still get a rush. On top of this, telling others that you’re busy is an ego boost. Being busy makes you feel important.

Busyness is a drug. And the only way to get off it is to start obsessing with results.

What’s the result of what you’re doing? What’s the outcome? Is there any value in spending the next eight hours on some side project your co-worker wants you to do, or four hours at some event that your family or friends want you to attend?

Will either of these things bring you closer to your goals? If the answer is no, say no.

Why busy people are easily manipulated

Distracted people get taken advantage of, and busy people are distracted.

When you are busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like you only have one choice: theirs. When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like you need them to be successful.

When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like it’s your duty to take care of them. Distraction turns people into pushovers. When grown men and grown women try to make you feel guilty for not spending time with them or not doing what they want, it’s simply a power play.

These people know that you have a thousand other things going on and would rather give in to them than feel guilty. They use your busyness against you by making silent threats to play the victim or suck you into drama. As a result, you say yes to everything. You have to say yes. If you don’t, you’ll have to deal with emotional blackmail.

Staying busy is an easy trap to fall into no matter who you are

If you want to be average, run around all day in a false sense of busyness. Stay passive and unfocused, only half concentrating on whatever you’re doing at the time. Worry constantly. Plan for the worst. Try to fit in, let others boss you around, and say yes to everything. Most importantly, never be selective with your attention.

But, if you want to be productive, if you want to achieve worthwhile goals while feeling a sense of fulfillment, it’s time to get focused. You need to start being self-aware enough to reject busy, meaningless activities and, instead, to focus on the one or two things that really matter to you each day.

Isaiah Hankel received his doctorate in Anatomy and Cell Biology and is an expert on mental focus, behavioural psychology, and career development. His work has been featured in The Guardian, Fast Company, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

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