Are You Adding to Others Busyness & Overload?

When working to reduce busyness and overload, we tend to focus on our personal schedules. We look at ways to reduce our own “to do” lists. How often do we look at how our actions or inactions create more work and load for others?

Consider the following elements and how they not only impact your own life but how they might be adding to busyness and overload in the lives of the people with whom you work, live, go to church and play.

  1. Exhaustion. Our own busyness and overload adds to what others need to accomplish when we become too exhausted to keep commitments or fail to complete tasks satisfactorily. By continually working to keep busyness and overload in our own lives at bay, by default we reduce those for others as well. More importantly, living in constant fatigue, stress and overload fails to provide a picture of the freedom that Christ died to bring (Galatians 5:1). Instead, we appear trapped in and resigned to living out lives in the realm of too much.
  2. Ineffective Communication. Do you fully listen when someone talks, or do you think about all you have to do or want to say? Are your interactions (face-to-face, email, text, Facebook) uplifting and helpful or filled with confusion?  Develop the habit of truly listening, and learn to communicate effectively. Also, simply learning to Reduce Email Overload and Frustration goes a long way in promoting effective communication. Pick an area of communication and focus on improving there if for no other reason than to ease the stress and overload another person is experiencing.
  3. Drama. Do you constantly tell stories about your busy and stressed life? Are your stories filled with exaggeration that stresses busyness?  Consider that constant drama may be exhausting to others. How long can you go without saying you’re busy? Can you have a conversation without telling a dramatic story of the events that make every moment of your life exhausting? Purpose to not be someone who brags about being too busy and stressed.
  4. Nosiness & Gossip. Often, hearing about the pit others find themselves in makes our own pits not seem so miry. When we talk about others problems, our own don’t seem so bad. While that can give a needed perspective switch, it can also backfire by leading us to feel like change in our own lives isn’t necessary. Consider how projection and magnification might exist in your life to the point of causing you to not see needed change in your own life.
  5. Neediness. Some people just need others to listen to them, and borrowing a friend’s ear certainly has its place and time. Unfortunately, some take this to an extreme and live in a constant state of neediness. Part of refusing to constantly add to others busyness and overload means avoiding being needy and always taking. It means choosing to give, whether by helping in a tangible way or simply by not staying too talk long when the person is obviously busy. Instead, schedule time to vent and talk when both parties can have the mental space to focus.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, Paul gives advice for living that results in respect from others as well as lives that do not put unnecessary burdens on others. His advice? “Live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.”

A quiet life means a simple life, however you define that, and a simple life comes in small, deliberate steps that add up over time. Not only does a simpler life reduce our own stress, busyness and overload, but it reduces those aspects in the lives of others too. When we are less stressed, busy and not as overloaded, we tend to have the energy to communicate more effectively and to be a source of peace to others, which then allows us and them to progress further along the path to victory over busyness and overload.

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Be determined. Pursue simplicity. Find balance. Be curious. Be deliberate. Be intentional. Age gracefully. Make the most of every opportunity.


Mark Allman
July 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

I try hard to be a good listener. It is a difficult task. One problem we have to work on is that we need to listen with the intent to understand not "with the intent to reply". Listening with the intent to reply results in our working on our response even as the other person is still talking. We need to accept that there can be silence when we are talking; that it is ok for the other person to think about what you said before forming their reply. Something that always needs work… that of being a good listener. If important a good thing to do is to tell the person back to them what you understood them to say. Often the reply is no.. you did not get it. Then try again.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Yes, being a good listener is very difficult. Definitely an area I need to work on. I love how you said to listen to understand instead of with the intent to reply. I did that this morning (listened to understand), and it was wonderful. Felt great! One thing I tried to teach my speech students years ago was that silence was okay. It was okay for them to take a minute to gather their thoughts. I think a post on the listening process you talk about here might be in order. I'll have to let that one simmer a bit.

Mary Jeffries McCauley
July 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

thanks Kari. you made some great points that I need to apply to my life. You are a good teacher. I need to learn to be a better listener. I like the idea that silence is ok….somewhere along the line I missed that! And Mark’s comments were also helpful to me.

August 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm

This is such a great and needed concept. Considering our actions on others is crucial. I think, as a husband, this is something I try to consider with my wife. I want to try and free her up in her schedule and not burden her down more. For me, it's not emotional neediness – but more just practical neediness: errands to run, things to clean, Emails to send. I've been bad before about treating her like more of a personal assistant than a wife, and I'm trying to rectify that.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Our expectations play into this as do so many other factors. Figuring out how to work as a team is a key when applying this to a marriage. I think just being mindful of what we can do to lessen others overload is huge. Seems like people fail to consider how their actions (or lack of actions) impact others way too much. Changing that to some extent is important.

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