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Is being 'busy' really something we should aim for?

Is the "busy trap" just a myth? Are we actually not as busy as we always say we are?

I know I'm guilty. I say it at least once a day: "I have too much going on. I'm too busy. I can't do this. I need time to eat, you know."

Am I lying?

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Meredith Fineman seems to think so.

The entrepreneur and writer said in a Harvard Business Review article that as we continuously try to "outdo" each other with the level of stress in our lives, we're risking our sanity and our health.

It's a truth, she writes, that we judge each other by how "busy" we are: "Oh, you have three appointments after work? Five new clients you've got to get on the phone before the end of the day? Gee, you must really be doing well."

But are we missing out on life by keeping our schedule so jam-packed?

Yes, Fineman says.

"In addition to having entire conversations about how busy we are, we fail to share feelings with friends and family, ask about important matters, and realize that the busy' is something that can be put on hold for a little while," she writes.

"We need to work smart, not (just) hard."

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But … how?

Fineman points out there has been evidence suggesting that sitting at a desk for 15 hours straight will result in less work getting done than if you had done short, totally focused bursts of work.

Time management, she argues, is more important than volume of work.

She also recommends using a planner so you can see exactly what needs to get done and how much time you have to do it. And she says you should cut the meetings that don't really matter. Why just do it to do it? Only focus on the things you know you need to, so you don't distract yourself with the superfluous.

I think a general rule is that if you want to get something done, you should be able to make time for it.

We must also remember that we're not all striving for the same thing; priorities differ for different people.

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But as Fineman points out, not taking at least a few minutes out of that 15 hour work day and relaxing or clearing your head isn't doing anybody – yourself included – any favours.

Make "healthy" and "focused" the new busy.

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