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  • Svenja Carolin

I’m sick and tired of being busy.


If you would ask people around me what describes me best, one of things would definitely be: ‘She is always so busy.’ I don’t like to be busy. For sure not. I’m done with being busy and search for a way out of this crazy treadmill.


For me being busy means not being able to fully focus on one thing because of the distraction and noise of all the other things I think I have to do.


Time is for me the most precious good. In a world (at least in the western world) in which we have everything in abundance, time is of alarming shortage. It’s bizarre, isn’t it? Material wealth and leisure time are somewhat negatively related. We always strive for more. We work more to earn more money, to buy more things. Outside of work our time is consumed by consumption – by the consumption of goods, information, food or experiences.


I wonder what would happen if we work less to have more time. Which would also mean that we can consume less which gives us even more time.


Sounds like a win win situation, right? I’m not sure what an economist would say. Economic growth is one of the cornerstones of our free market economy. Is this continuous stimulation to work more and consume more the basis of the survival of our economy?


If you are not busy, you don’t work hard enough. This is a common belief at work.


Sometimes I catch myself sneaking out of the office at the backdoor because I feel guilty that I leave earlier than my colleagues do. And sometimes I make up excuses why I come later. Why do I have a bad conscious to work more flexible and not always be physically present at the office? Everyone talks about flexibility and remote working according to your own needs, but in practice there is a long way to go. I always feel the urge to justify myself even if I know that I do this more for myself than for others. I’m an adult and I can make reasonable decisions what is good for me and for the business. Further justifications not needed (note to myself)!




Being busy is a status symbol.


I work on a project with real strategy consultants for whom a 16 hours workday is as usual as brushing your teeth in the morning. I wonder if this can be really productive? Let’s have a clear thought about it. Does is make sense to work that long? Does it make even sense to work eight hours per day? I’m convinced, and it’s also shown in a number of studies, that five hours of focused work would be enough to reach the same outcome in many jobs. Full stop.


Would you manage to do your work within five hours if you work concentrated and cut out the bullshit?


It’s so deeply rooted in our western society to be busy. Burnouts are an accepted component of a career. Being busy is a story we made up and all believe in. If technology takes over more and more work, we could take the chance to reinvent work based on purpose and collective needs. So it’s time to turn theory into reality, to create a new story and get rid of the being busy as an equation for a right to exist and to be important.


We burn out not only because of too much work, but also because of too much bullshit work.


Some people seem to need a burnout as a wakeup call for change. If people don’t like their work it’s often because it’s too undemanding or too challenging. Therefore, people might be either in a state of boredom or anxiety, in both cases their focus is definitely not with the activity they do. Over time this can lead to enormous stress and end in a burnout.


We can’t escape the overload as a part of the civilized world.


In my life as a whole, I totally struggle with the overload of stimuli – from consumption to food to information. I order every month at least three new books, which I don’t read. I have in the meanwhile three websites for my different projects and numerous social media accounts to share and promote my ideas. Infobesity is my new favorite buzzword.


How to manage (work)load is the most crucial skill to learn right now!


Load management is a life skill we don’t learn in school. Load management is about how to deal with all these stimuli in order to create and keep focus. Load management includes learning to:

  • Set priorities

  • Deal with distraction

  • Navigate the noise

  • Unlearn multitasking


Load management is closely connected to mindfulness. The basic principle of mindfulness is to create space – awareness – between a stimulus and a reaction. So that we don’t react on autopilot but make a conscious choice of how we respond. Exactly this space we need to deal with the overload of stimuli. To create this space to check in with our emotional, physical and rational parts in us how we want to respond to a stimuli.


Not being busy doesn’t mean to sit on the couch. Not being busy means to be focused on the one mental or physical activity you do right now.


Being in a flow state is to find the right relation between being challenged and using your skills. This might sound like a contraction if we talk about being less busy and managing load. Being in a flow state can only happen if you apply your complete focus on the current activity in addition to using your skills fully and stretching your limits to overcome a challenge. In this natural pursuit for personal growth and fulfillment, we are in a flow state. If you have a hard time imagining this concept, just think about how toddlers learning to walk.



I put all my heart, experience and knowledge in a coaching program helping people (and me) to find their flow at work. I based it on four pillars: Business insights, ideas from neuroscience, spirituality and embodiment. Learning how to manage load is key in the program. Do you want to learn more about how you can redefine work on your terms? Check out my website and sign up for the next workshop:

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