This week, Life Training Online is reviewing CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast-Paced Life, by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., the twentyfirst of fifty-two books in the 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks series.

Part I, which makes up the first half of this book, is centered around how our modern lifestyle creates in many ways a culturally induced ADD. Without us really intending for this to happen and most of us unaware of how it started, many people these days find themselves caught up in a rush of activity and overload which they don’t want nor did they create — or at least didn’t mean to create. Despite our modern-day conveniences, we feel busier than ever before and have more to do with less time to do it.

The Crazy Life We Lead

Being busy by itself is not entirely the problem, Hallowell says. If your busy doing what you love to do most, then busyness is bliss. But when being busy keeps you from doing what matters most, then being busy becomes a problem. If you want to live in this fast-paced world with some measure of sanity, then you must decide what matters most to you and focus your attention on that.

This habit of busyness, which most of us suffer from, can interfere or cut short those things which are most important to you. We become slaves to a lifestyle that we don’t like but can’t escape. If it gets to the point where you’re so busy that you don’t even have the time to decide what is most important to you, then it’s time to reevaluate your lifestyle.

Not only does crazy busyness prevent us from controlling our own lives, it does other harm as well. Busyness leads to things like the increase of toxic stress, illness, accidents and errors, and the overall reduction of our level of happiness. But again, the greatest harm it does is that it keeps us from what’s most important.

The Myth and Reality of Multitasking

In our modern era, we try to adapt to the all the tasks that get dumped onto us. One of these adaptations we attempt to use is multitasking.

The myth behind “multitasking” is the belief that you can perform two or more tasks simultaneously and as effectively as one. Sure it’s possible to talk on the phone while reading your email and at the same time check your stock prices, but each time you add a new object of attention into what you’re currently doing, you dilute your attention on any single object.

What’s really happening is that you’re spending brief amounts of time one one task before switching to the other, but at no time are you really multitasking. This is fine when the tasks you’re involved in aren’t of any particular importance but when they are, it’s better to focus on that task exclusively.

The Paradox of Labor-Saving Devices

Emerging from this never-ending busyness, we have one of the greatest paradoxes of our times: labor-saving devices. Intended to help us complete our tasks quicker and easier, these “labor-saving devices” actually serve to make us even more busy. It seems that faster we’re able to finish things, the more we take on, and the more we take on, the more we have to do and hence we become more busy than ever before. Ultimately, by shortening the time and energy it takes to finish all the tasks we have, these devices free up time and energy to do more things.


Gemmelsmerch? What kind of word is that? Actually, it’s a made-up word created by Hallowell to describe the invisible force that tugs at our attention all the time. In our modern era, it’s whatever distracts us from our current task, not allowing our complete attention to be focused on any one thing.

This is the force that causes us to constantly flip through the many channels on the TV even if we are enjoying what we were watching just because there might be something better out there. It’s what keeps us from giving someone our undivided attention when we’re out to dinner with them because we’re thinking of work, or something we forgot to do, or the strange way they chew their food.

It’s whatever keeps us from fully experiencing and living in the moment.

CrazyBusy is the twentyfirst of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.

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