Escaping the Busy Trap

We have a problem.  With tech being what it is today, we think we should have a lot more free time.  Yet with tech being what it is today, we seemingly have a lot more to do.  If the statistics are correct, people are consuming between four and ten hours on handheld devices.  Therefore, we don’t have as much time as we think we do (even though we never have to go to Target anymore thanks to Google Express).  So while we perceive that there is more time out there thanks to technology, in reality people are getting more and more busy.

Being busy is something new and something dangerous.  As a college student, I recall having endless hours to sit and do nothing all day.  I’d schmooze with friends, maybe have a leisurely workout, go to Chipotle twice a day (I wasn’t always kosher or a size 32 waist) but in general, relax. I don’t think I got much done during those four years of my life, besides of course meeting my wife and my best friend.  I never really felt busy, and I really enjoyed the time.  To be honest, it was an amazing respite from the twelve years I spent prior to that grinding out homework many hours a night.

For the past few years though, I’m a mess.  Yes, thank G-d I have four active children, a full time job, a side hustle or two, and work out an hour or two a day,  but that’s not what makes me busy.  It’s this incessant buzzing in my head to do more, read more, consume more of the tremendous amount of media and information that’s all around.

And it’s compounded because everyone else also seems busy and accomplished.  Why?  Because we are broadcasting our lives on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Of course we need content to upload on these fantastic sites so we make up all the cool things we do all day long.  We are busy showing everyone how busy we are!

Isn’t it good to be busy?  No! Being busy is the opposite of being focused.  Busyness implies being all over the place with a million things to do, while being focused means driving in a meaningful direction.  One who is driven isn’t busy, they are focused.  Granted both busy people and driven people don’t have time, but one is going somewhere while the other isn’t.

The more successful the person, the less busy they are.  One of the game changing lessons I learned in my life that I heard over and over again from successful people is that they are keenly aware of what they do well, and leave everything else to other people.  Being aware of your strengths, your goals, and your mission allows you to focus on what you want and block out all the noise.

Today, as I build my businesses, family, and myself, my greatest fear is being busy.  It’s truly amazing that as my responsibilities with my current position dwindle as we approach the summer season, I found myself having less and less time.  I realized that as soon as I wasn’t busy with my job, there was so much I hadn’t focused on that needed time and development.

Looking back over my life, I realized I had neglected large chunks of necessary information.  Thank G-d I have made a great salary, but until a few years ago, I never learned about money.  What did I know about taxes?  Investments?  Real estate?  Stocks?  So while I was busy making money, I was never working towards becoming financially stable.  In the past, I had worked out a lot, but I never learned or focused on nutrition.  Therefore, I didn’t get the results I wanted.  I gave speeches about family life and Judaism, but I spent less and less time focusing on those things themselves.  I was really busy, but I wasn’t focused.

I read that sales people only spend some 45 min a day in front of prospects.  Why?  Because they’re so busy prepping their script, drinking coffee, etc.  They are busy, but they aren’t focused.  Their job is to get in front of clients.  The more client meetings, the better you get at learning to sell.  Focused means having a clear goal, getting whatever tools you need to get there, going for it, and cutting out the noise of everything else.

So often I hear people talk about all the big things they want in their life; great relationships, great health, financial success.  But they’re usually too busy to actually start building whatever they want.  Busyness is a disease; it dulls our desire to push forward with our goals.

And on top of it, being busy makes you burned out and tired.  But if you’re a busy person, you can’t relax! If you’re focused or driven, you recognize relaxation is a necessary step to reaching your goals.  I lost more weight when I stopped lifting weights and had a strict diet.  I got better in the gym (once I got back in it) when I took more rest days.

It’s very scary not to be busy because being busy makes us think we’re being productive.  But if you can stop being busy for a few minutes, you can start to be focused.  STOP DOING ANYTHING. IMAGINE YOU’RE IN JAIL OR DEAD.  NOTHING HAS TO HAPPEN. Now think; what do I want in my life?  What do I need to know to get there?  How can I get that information?  What steps do I do next?  What do I not have time for?  Considering these scary questions makes us confront that part of us that screams that we need to accomplish.  But the beauty of it is that if we do asks these questions, and stop being so busy, we might actually start moving in the right direction.

About the Author
Rabbi Rupp grew up as a reform Jew. He began to learn more about his heritage while in college, which lead him to Jerusalem where he became an orthodox rabbi. Having come from a broken home, Jacob was fixated on the idea of how to build a happy home life, which also pushed him in his mission. After becoming a rabbi, he lost 100lbs, and developed a life mission to bring Jewish values and concepts to Jews and humanity.
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