The ‘Busy Trap’ Is Ruining You

To be honest, most nights after I get done the 9-5 grind and evening client work, I sit down for a few hours of mindless TV watching.

Usually it’s sports, because that’s what I love, but it could be anything. It’s the downtime that’s important.

But it wasn’t always like that.

There was a time I felt guilty about taking time away from my “work” to enjoy life.

The “you must grind 24/7 until there’s nothing left to grind” because that’s the message I was hearing from successful people.

However, I truly believe this mentality does more harm than good.

I love waking up early to get a ton of work done before the sun rises, but I go to bed at a reasonable hour to compensate and I reward myself later in the day for putting in those efforts.

People wear their “busy” lives like badges of honour. When you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Super busy” is the typical response. But it’s a load of crap.

It’s not as if any of us truly want to live like this; we just think it’s the way it has to be done. Whether it’s culturally driven or not, I’m not 100% sure. I only know the North American way.

But the worst part is the people who seem to be the busiest have no reason to be. They’re making ends meet, but are adding to their busy lives with  self-imposed “stuff” that isn’t necessarily putting food on the table.

And they’re missing out on quality time with family. Quality time with themselves. Quality time to rest and recharge the batteries.

If you don’t take your foot off the gas, you’ll burn out fast.

The same mentality rings true in fitness – MORE is BETTER until MORE isn’t enough, they say. But you don’t have to drive your body into the ground to make it healthier, fitter and better looking. In fact, a little moderation goes a long way sometimes. Not every workout needs to be a ball buster. Listen to your body.

The same rules apply in life. Downtime is not a sign of laziness ALL the time, it is as indispensable to the brain as good nutrition is to the body. Sooner or later, you’ll pay a debt for neglecting it.

We glorify this lifestyle grind where you live off of Red Bull and #nosleep your way to success.

“Sleep when you’re dead,” they say.

But, fuck that.

I don’t want to survive on caffeine and nicotine, go in for a physical at age 33 and find I’ve got the hormonal profile of an 80 year old war veteran.

Quite frankly, I’d argue that adding more downtime and quality sleep to your life will make you more productive in the hours you DO work. You’ll out-perform the Red Bull junkie in the long game.

Ryan Holiday wrote a good piece on sleep – no need for me to elaborate further – but the point to drive home is this: Anders Ericcson, of the famous 10,000 hours study to achieve mastery in your given trade, found that master violinists slept 8.5 hours a night on average and took a nap most days. In fact, they slept more than lesser players.

So, sleep and relax your way to success.

Find the balance, work hard when you’re working, and then enjoy life once in awhile.

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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.