• PRINITHA GOVENDER

The Global Epidemic of Over-Scheduling

Updated: Nov 23, 2018

There is a global epidemic of over-scheduling and it's ruining our health. These days it's almost like being busy is a medal of honour and wearing a "Scarlet B" is like a badge of worthiness. And more and more I’m finding people glorifying being busy. I call it the "Cult of Busy".


I liken my feelings towards this cult to "Cult of Yoga” which I’ve discovered is a competitive battlefield between the mats – Who’s got the cuter outfit? Who can stay in the pose for longer? Who can stretch the furtherest? Women’s eyes flickering around the room with their “cult glasses” on… sheesh! (that’s a post for another time).


Ok, so back to the “B” word, a word I’m starting to despise as I hear it all too often. In my world, being too busy means I’m not living a balanced life. Part of health and wellbeing for me is taking time out to relax, to have fun, to do something I love and enjoy and to switch off. In my books, doing the occasional nothing IS doing something. Studies indicate that people who take time out actually have higher productivity levels and have increased creativity. It’s good for the mind, absolutely brilliant for the body and soothing for the soul.


It may even be good for the bank balance too, according to a 2016 study by Project: Time Off, which indicated that people who use their holiday time at work are actually more likely to get a promotion or a raise.


I should probably point out that by being “busy” what I’m actually referring to is being “busy working” aka “workaholism.” Don’t get me wrong, when I’m busy being productive, learning, evolving, making things happen, contributing to my team and my own goals - pat on the back, I love it! I’m talking about overdoing it... consistently... “workaholics” in one simple word.


The thing I often wonder about is - are these people really as busy as they claim to be or is it a knee-jerk response for poor priorities? Or perhaps, do they throw themselves into their work as an excuse for the things their life is lacking? Things like fitness or relationships. Or, do people sometimes work more to avoid their lives altogether too? Hmmm... it’s a conundrum alright. So, why is work getting in the way of life?


Aussies are one of the highest of all the hard working countries in the developed world, according to ABS figures released in 2016, with the average full-time employee working 40.6 hours a week. On top of that, only 48 percent of us actually take our entitled annual leave and 45 per cent admitted to not using any annual leave at all in 2017, according to the Travel Habits report. Workaholism is making us unwell, leading to reduced health and fitness, strained relationships and increases the risk of depression and mental illness (mind you, being idol will do this too, but I'm focusing on "busy" in this feature). Technology, with all its conveniences has induced us to 24/7 productivity capability.


But, does all this overtime actually help your career or your business prospects? Not exactly. According to the Ford Motor Company, the sweet spot is the 40-hour-week. Any more than that can lead downhill, and quickly. Truth is, continuously striving towards productivity can backfire. Remember, unhappy workers become unproductive workers. People burn out, the fuel can run out (and it eventually does) and more importantly, the fire and drive they once had eventually cripples.


Unplugging and balancing out the work hours and spending more quality time on fun things like spending time with your nearest and dearests or your favourite hobby or sport can absolutely make you happier, and boost performance. Cheers to that!


You only need to take a quick look around at how some of the world’s other cultures are handling the overwork endemic. In Germany, the laws ban managers from contacting their staff after hours. Volkswagen says they stop forwarding emails to staff 30 minutes after the end of each work day, while Daimler encourages its staff to delete all emails while they’re on holiday (wow!).


Working oneself to death has actually become so prevalent in Japan, they’ve called it “karoshi” meaning “death from overwork.” The Japanese government has become so concerned about the 200 to 400 annual deaths caused by karoshi, they’ve now enforced that all local companies force employees to take five days off annually. Five is not much really, but it’s better than karoshi, wouldn’t you agree?


With this intel, it’s no surprise that despite all the cheese, wine and bread the French consume, they seem to be in pretty good nick with some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and obesity in all the developed countries of the world. The French government have implemented an average of up to 30 days of paid leave a year in France and a protected 35-hour work week. Good call guys!


On the flip side of being busy bee - if you did too much of nothing and you remain idol consistently, there’d be negative side effects to that too. But, there's not enough time to go into that for now guys as I’m off to do something fun. In the meantime, remember - it’s all about balance. For me anyhow, balance is always the key, but balance can sometimes be one of the most challenging things to foster.


Hope you all have a relaxing one. Keep well this week and never underestimate the power of taking time off to recharge those batteries and ultimately live a happier better quality life. So, if you’re in the “Cult of Busy”, perhaps try entering the “Cult of Balance.” Easier said than done, but it’s something nice to aspire to!


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