3 Ways I Deal with ‘Busyness’ and Work Productively

 Since Sydney has entered lockdown for over 100 days, something I’ve noticed is that I and the people around me are constantly busy. Theoretically, more time spent at home should result in us having more free time — but why are we feeling busier?

Looking back, my first days in lockdown started with a sense of boredom. To fill the extra hours in my day, I turned to self-help books and podcasts so that I can come out of lockdown having learned something new. I also joined a few startup communities, diving deeper into growing my side hustles including The SproutCast podcast. The accessibility of these resources and communities have made it easier to subscribe to hustle culture as I became surrounded by peers who are constantly doing something cool.

Suddenly, I found myself going through a volatile period of extreme inspiration and excitement for what I was learning. Other days, I would feel dissatisfied and too “busy” as I ate lunch and dinner at my work desk.

1. Side hustles are not hobbies — they count as work

The excitement of working on a new project first appears disguised as a hobby. However, the reality of side hustles is that it gets hard. As soon as you start a project with metrics and commitments tied to it, thinking of it as a hobby creates false expectations that it will always be fun. I found that when the not-as-fun work came up, it was easy to feel demotivated.

Seeing my side hustles as work and dedicating more time to hobbies that are always fun helped me feel less busy. These are the ones that don’t have metrics or performance results tied to them.

2. It’s all about perspective

Speaking to a recent podcast guest, Byron Dempsey, made me realize the importance of perspective. People all over the world are working really hard. Migrants like my parents, for example, have had to restart their life in a new country. They’ve faced language barriers and often had to work all 7 days of the week.

I and many of my peers, on the other hand, have the privilege of choosing a career path and aligning it with our interests. Showing gratitude for this has helped me feel more satisfied and in control of my own ‘busyness’.

The times when I’ve felt the busiest, I’ve noticed are usually when I’m doing too much work that I didn’t enjoy as opposed to actually overworking. Choosing to do more of the work I enjoy has drastically improved the way I feel.

3. Understanding time management

The age-old tale of Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

First blocking out my calendar with leisure and doing work in the time between has forced me to work more productively. Continuing to stay socially connected and exercising during my busiest days have helped me feel healthier and therefore, perform better. I’ve found that this works the best when you’ve found the optimal amount of time you need to produce quality work.

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