Beth Wilson

SFYB Staff Writer

Is “Addiction to Busyness Syndrome” Real?  Yes!

By: Beth Wilson

Addiction to Busyness Syndrome—does it exist or is it a new label for a flawed character trait? Come on, who doesn’t remember the CrackBerry jokes from nearly a decade ago? We were mostly just kidding—right?

Not so much, it turns out. An article in the May 2008 edition of The Australian News refers to a man who, while being interviewed, whipped out his BlackBerry and stepped away to write an email, saying, “this will just take a second.”


The author even admitted to “checking her BlackBerry three times” while writing the first four paragraphs of the story.

From BlackBerries and PalmPilots to iPhones and Samsung Galaxies, we’ve become a species driven to instantaneous knowledge. But are we addicted?

Yes, in the sense that our lives have become unmanageable while giving us a sense of euphoria or control.

“It (busyness) provides us with a sense of being important and in demand, indirectly satisfying our need of job security,” says Saleem Sufi, CFO at Intercos America, a global manufacturing company. “If we are not busy or not fully occupied, we may feel insecure.”


There is a noted difference between the crazy busy people (or so they claim) and the people who are bogged-down, dog-tired, exhausted.

Writes Tim Kreider, in a New York Times 2012 opinion piece, “It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve ‘encouraged’ their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”

Hold onto your hats; there is a solution, or at least suggestions. Sufi offers a 10-step process to get a handle on ATBS:

  • Find the purpose of life
  • Focus on your career and profession
  • Make close friends at work
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate
  • Get out of reactive mode
  • Get the slow movers out of the way
  • Stop checking your phone every two seconds
  • Start standing meetings for 30 minutes only
  • Apply the 50/10 rule (focus on one task for 50 minutes, then take a 10-minute break)
  • Plan special times for big projects.

Addiction to busyness syndrome can be addressed, but as Barbara Stanny writes in Forbes, it takes a willingness to begin to let go. “I invite you to observe all the needless activities you cram into your life– from constant emailing to extraneous chores. Than ask yourself: What could I slowly start cutting out of my day?”

Then, to quote the fabulously famous movie of the season, let it go.


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Beth Wilson
Beth Wilson is a writer, editor, and communications consultant in long-term recovery. She specializes in recovery writing. Blogging, editorial writing, and social media are some of her favorite forms of recovery messaging. Beth was previously regional director at The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (formerly known as The Partnership for a Drug-Free America).

Filed under: Addiction