Do you have more to do than time to do it? Does the quality of your work suffer and your enjoyment of life go down because you are trying to do just too much? Welcome to modern life. It’s the best of times and the worst of times. I want to help you make it just the best.
Sure, you’re doing well, you’re successful, and you enjoy life, but do you feel frustrated at how hard you have to struggle to keep up with all your commitments, opportunities, deadlines, and messages? Do you keep thinking there must be a better way? If so, I know I can help you. I’m not a marketer by nature or by training, but I understand this problem—the problem of overloaded circuits—so well that I am on a mission to reach as many people as I can and give them the practical assistance they need.
Hi, I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, Harvard-trained psychiatrist and author of the Nightingale-Conant product Success Strategies for the Crazy Busy. This program addresses those of us who are simply driven to distraction, overbooked, overstretched, and about to snap!
Now, does that title describe you? Are you overbooked, overstretched, and about to snap? If so, welcome to the crowd. Being crazy-busy is becoming the norm in modern life, so don’t feel alone. And don’t feel that it’s your fault, or feel guilty or ashamed. Feel just the opposite! Feel proud! If you’re busy, or crazy-busy, if you’re overbooked and about to snap, you should feel proud of yourself! Why? Because it means you have a lot on the ball; it means you have lots of enthusiasm and curiosity, many interests, and tons of talent you’re trying to tap. It means you’re probably a fun kind of person, responsible but also daring, serious about what you do but also excited to be doing it. It means you’re a live wire. Dull, boring people don’t become crazy-busy. They just plod along.
But…but…but…but…why, oh why can life be such a jumbled-up mess so much of the time? Why do you wake up intending to do one thing and go to bed never having done it? Why do you say yes before you think twice and then find that you’ve overcommitted yourself once again? Why can’t you curb your enthusiasm at least enough that you complete one project before you start six others?
You love your life…but it drives you crazy sometimes. People love you…but you drive them crazy sometimes. You’re full of ideas…but you wish you could see more of them take root and grow to their fullest.
I have answers for you. I have solutions. I have researched this problem for many years, so I know what I’m talking about. And don’t worry, the answers I have are not the same-old, same-old. You know the usual advice, the usual drill. You’re supposed to slow down, you’re supposed to exercise more and meditate, you’re supposed to eat steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast and line-caught fish for dinner, and drink eight glasses of water a day. You’re supposed to make love regularly, pray often, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and make lists—like making lists is your all-time favorite thing to do! Personally, I’d rather have a root canal than make lists, but that’s just me.
Sheeeesh! If you could do that, you wouldn’t be crazy-busy. You don’t need to make yet another failed attempt at living a balanced life. You don’t need yet another set of stress-reduction tapes to listen to in your car while you struggle not to fall asleep, crash, and burn. You don’t need to watch yet another earnest guru tell you his secrets to a happy life, while you sit there thinking, This guy just doesn’t live in my world.
You don’t need or want a radical overhaul of your life. You just want to get done what you want to get done! And not feel like a wind-up toy whose spring has sprung at the end of the day.
Look, I’m not a guru. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to life. What I am is a pretty smart guy who has thought long and hard about the issues I’m talking about here. I’m a man who went through the rigors of medical school, internship, and residency, and who has spent 25 years making a living by getting to know people and the fixes they can get themselves into. Like an experienced car mechanic who’s seen a lot, I recognize knocks and pings that other people don’t, and I know how to fix them. I love my work, because I love to see people get their lives in gear.
Becoming crazy-busy is one of those fixes people can get themselves into. And their solution is usually just to spin their wheels faster and faster, going nowhere. They need to make some changes. As the people in AA say, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”
So what are the changes I want you to make? Only the changes that you want to make. Only the changes that will make you happier and more successful.
You see, crazy-busy people usually make one giant mistake. They put all their faith in one principle they were taught so early in their lives that it became part of their blood and bones. It is so fundamental and basic that they never stop to question it. It would be like questioning the need to breathe.
The one giant mistake is this: They believe that hard work conquers everything. So, when they feel frustrated, overcommitted, overstretched, and at the breaking point, what do they do? They work harder! Do more! Stay up later! Suck it up until they can’t suck it up anymore.
This is crazy. Working harder doesn’t work! There is a better way. Hard work will always be a key ingredient to anybody’s success, but it can get you into trouble, too. Just like pushing the accelerator when you are stuck in the mud, working harder when you are crazy-busy will just make a big, ugly mess as it sinks you deeper into the mud.
So what do I recommend instead? Goof off? Of course not. But I do recommend you take the short amount of time it will take you to digest my materials so you can get more complete answers to questions like these. I will give short answers here, but I hope you will delve further into what I have created to learn the fuller answers.
- What is the key ingredient to peak mental performance that most people ignore? Answer: A positive emotional state.
- Why do smart people often underperform and not-so-smart people outshine them? Answer: Smart people take on too much and allow themselves to get overloaded circuits. When their circuits are overloaded, smart people underperform.
- What is the one word you need to learn to keep you from being crazy-busy? Answer: NO.
- What does a rigorous cost-benefit analysis tell you will improve your performance more than any single factor? Answer: Learning how to take control of what you can control.
- What separates people who succumb to stress from those who thrive on it? Answer: People who thrive on stress do what they’re good at most of the time. People who succumb to stress do so because they feel overwhelmed by the task, unable to perform it well.
- What can you do on the spot when you start to feel overwhelmed? Answer: STOP what you’re doing for 3 minutes. Read a joke book (which you keep in your desk!).
- How can you learn to monitor yourself so you will know when to stop or take a break? Answer: Simply notice when you start to get irritable and make mistakes.
- How can you get others to give you the feedback you need to hear? Answer: Ask them for it directly and sincerely.
- What are the danger signs of overload? Answer: Irritability; impaired performance; fatigue; forgetfulness; loss of sense of humor; inability to tolerate interruptions or conflict; loss of mental flexibility; inability to listen to others; loss of hope; tendency to blame others; musculoskeletal aches and pains; headaches; loss of focus and concentration.
- How much anxiety improves your performance, and when does anxiety start to make you mess up? Answer: Anxiety improves performance up to a point; beyond that, performance declines. You have to watch yourself to see where that point is for you.
- What is the only true learning disability (guess what, everybody has it now and then)? Answer: Fear.
- What about coffee and peak performance? Answer: Some helps. Too much hurts.
- How can you control your addictions to your cell phone, the Internet, your BlackBerry, and other screens? Answer: T.I.O. Turn it off. Judiciously.
- What are the hidden time-wasters most people are blissfully, but dangerously, unaware of? Answer: At the top of the list is what I call screensucking, mindlessly sitting in front of a screen sending and receiving unimportant messages.
- What can you do if you can’t turn down the noise in your mind? Answer: Learn to meditate. Get physical exercise. Turn off your electronic devices now and then.
- How can you deal with people who infuriate you and put you into a totally stressed-out state? Answer: Create boundaries. Most people make themselves way too available.
- What is the single greatest antidote to worry ever invented? (No, not alcohol, although it is the oldest “medication” for worry.) Answer: Human contact. I.e., never worry alone.
- How can you take your time if so many people want to take it from you? Answer: Learn to say no. Close your door. Make priorities.
- What is the secret to effective multitasking? Answer: Not doing it.
- What can you do if you know that you are the only person who can do the job right? Answer: Find people who are just as competent as you are.
- What if, no matter how much you achieve, you feel bad that you haven’t done more? Answer: This is one instance where a good therapist can make a huge difference in your life.
- What’s the good part about being a worrier? Answer: Worriers tend to be the smartest, most creative people we have. It takes a lot of intelligence and imagination to dream up all that they worry about!
- How can you control the uncontrollable parts of your life? Answer: You can’t. What you can do is develop a method for dealing with them as they arise.
- How can you resist being flattered into doing something you don’t have time to do? Answer: Realize how much you love being praised, but don’t let people manipulate you with praise.
- ….and many more questions like these.
You need a plan to manage modern life—or it will manage you. You need a plan to avoid becoming crazy busy. You do have more control than you imagine. Now, you just have to use it!