Posted by: Cathy | January 23, 2013

“Excessive Activity Syndrome”

On Monday, I mentioned that working harder doesn’t equal working smarter. One culprit of “working harder” is excessive activity syndrome. This is when you keep yourself busy for the sake of being busy; busy as a habit.

Excessive activity syndrome (EAS) is a killer for creative energy. If your brain is busy with unnecessary tasks, it doesn’t have time and space to daydream and think about your creative projects. However, it does serve a purpose or it wouldn’t exist. It’s a tool of your ego so you can say, “Look how busy I am! I must be very important to be this busy!” It also keeps you focused on low-risk, low-reward tasks so you can’t be bothered with anything difficult or, gasp, face rejection or failure. It cushions you from your dreams that way.

The point of being busy, though, isn’t to feel important or waste time with menial tasks. It is to make progress on your goals. So take a few moments this week to evaluate whether you are caught up in EAS (also, try this anytime you feel you are spinning your wheels and not moving forward).

Coach Blog 012313 It’s easy to figure out if you keep track in your planner what you did over the course of a few days. Take 2 minutes each hour to reflect on what you were doing and write it down. After you have a few days’ worth of data, take 15 minutes to look over your list and estimate how much time you spent on each task and whether it was important and/or moved you closer to your goal. If you spend a lot of time on things that aren’t important and don’t move you closer to your goal, consider whether you can eliminate that task, consolidate it with something else, or find a more efficient way of doing it.

Some days, you may only have the mental power for menial tasks, but don’t let being busy as a habit be your default. Make time for what’s really important to you!



  1. I have such a bad habit of doing this, as you know. I try to keep busy to stay distracted though, because I get depressed if I’m not. Part of the reasons for all of my goals this year though is to keep busy with things that I enjoy doing and can be fully present while doing. I like your suggestions for evaluating activities though – might start trying that this weekend. Or maybe I should start tonight…

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