Too Busy to Breathe: Are You Being Productive or Just Busy? by Catharine Bramkamp

Too Busy to Breathe: Are You Being Productive or Just Busy? by Catharine BramkampLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “Too Busy to Breathe: Are You Being Productive or Just Busy?” Enjoy!


Is being busy as productive as you think?

If you’ve ever said, wow, I wish I had the time to write my book, but I’m too busy– 

It’s time to stop.  

The Myth of Busy-ness 

Listen in during any cocktail party, either online or in person, and you will often hear the lament of the crazy/super busy.  

Super busy is false modesty.  

We want to be busy. Busy has a curious appeal. 

In our culture, busy is not only honored, but also supported and reinforced – think of the click bait coming at you every day: 

  • Top Five Fast Recipes for Busy Families
  • How Busy People Get More Done
  • Quick Makeup Tips for Busy Women (Would that one make you click even if the others didn’t?).  

The problem for us is that being busy has drawbacks. 

The Cost of Busy-ness 

I’ve witnessed business partners and clients work so hard and be so busy they end up doing, then undoing, then re-doing the same tasks. 

Endlessly re-creating the same idea into slightly different iterations, never making any real progress except to be busy.  

Which then gives rise to the second most common lament– “I’m so busy, but I never seem to get anything done.” 

Busy-ness is fashionable. 

Busy is a look. 

It is also a frantic, unsustainable way to live. 

You know this, but how is it even possible to slow down when there are so many obligations pulling you in seven different directions? 

Take a few minutes and consider what exactly are the main activities that fuel your super busy day.  

A Busy-ness Alternative

Make a list. 

Journaling or just writing on the back of a Costco receipt, will help.

Write down everything that makes you feel crazy busy:

  • Work projects
  • Household chores
  • Family obligations
  • Your wonderful busy children
  • (Netflix binges do not count)

What are your goals, and what are your real goals for these activities?

  • Earn money or achieve career advancement?
  • A clean house or a perfect house?
  • Happy children or Instagram children?

Working Without Busyness 

Once you are clear on the real goals, re-consider the busy part of the day.

  • What can you ease up on? 
  • Are all the work projects equally critical?
  • Can you accept the work of your team without lurching forward and “fixing” it?
  • Do you need an Pinterest living room or one that is comfortable?
  • Are the children happy, do they still love all their activities?

Instead of chores, perfection, or projects, what would you like to do instead?  

It could be writing your book, but it also could be an afternoon sitting still and listening to the birds.

The Price of Busy-ness

Busy creates its own Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) closed loop. 

Is super busy the hamster wheel you want to run on?  

Or would you rather say— my day was fulfilling, I worked on a long-term project, I hiked with the children, we enjoyed a screen free evening.

Take a few minutes and detach from your endless To-Do list. 

Relish a few minutes of calm, even quiet.  

Allow this space to feed ideas and reveal what is really worth your time and attention.

I’d say more, but you’re busy.


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Catharine BramkampCatharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, former co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back.



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