Busy is not an emotion

Updated: Mar 29

Recently I was asking someone how they were doing and their answer was “busy”.

As I reflected on that it struck me that busy isn’t actually an emotion but just a state of how you are spending your time. I’m not sure what answer I was expecting but I can see why it was their response. We live in an age where the combination of our commitments, our work, raising families and being constantly connected means that time is a resource we can struggle to feel like we are managing well.

A number of years ago I read a great article from Harvard Business Review that suggested the answer to this ever increasing expectation of getting more things done isn’t about managing your time, but actually managing your energy.

To put it into practice in my life I’ve adapted the concept so the analogy is about the fuel tanks we have that keep our energy levels functioning at the optimal level. We each have a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy tank. Even right now you could think about each of these and whether any of your tanks are full or empty. Like any machine – if one part is empty it will have an impact on how the machine is actually functioning.

I’ve learnt that there are certain things that fill my tanks and certain things that drain them. So for example, my physical tank gets filled if I go for a run or eat healthy food and I find it drains if I get less than 8 hours sleep or go without exercise for a few days. My mental tank gets filled if I get the chance to read a book or watch a movie, but gets drained if I have too many meetings in a day without any margins for breaks. You get the idea.

What’s great is that this analogy works for me in my relationship with God. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to Love God with all of your heart, all your mind, all your strength and all your soul. That’s a common verse and can easily mean to love God with everything you have – but the correlation is so strong I’ve found that if I keep my energy tanks full it helps me keep a healthy relationship with Him. To love God with your strength requires a level of physical energy, to love God with your heart requires a level of emotional energy and so on.

If you can find some of that elusive time to work out what fills and empties your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual tanks – you can start adding those things that increase your energy and stop those things that are draining it.

What I’ve found as I’ve done that, is it has helped create a better use of my time and helped me to love God more.

Remember busy is not an emotion.


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© 2020 Derek Gerrard