CrazyBusy: 10 Key Principles to Managing Modern Life

Dr. Edward Hallowell
March 23, 2011

Do you feel busier than you've ever been before? Do you have more to do than ever with less time to do it?  Do you wonder if you can keep up the pace much longer? Are you overbooked and about to snap? Do you answer the simple question "How are you doing?" with a frazzled "Crazy busy" reply?

Being too busy can become a habit so entrenched that it leads you to postpone or cut short what matters most to you, making you a slave to a lifestyle you don't like but can't escape. In part, it is the desire for control that leads people to lose it. Modern life makes us feel as if we can be everywhere and do everything and gives us the magical tools to heighten the illusion. From his presentation on CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap - Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD, ADA expert Edward M. Hallowell, MD, will show you how to survive in an ultra-competitive, ultra-fast, attention deficit society and remain sane by following these 10 key principles to managing modern life.

And for more helpful tips, check out's Guide to Managing Stress.

  1. Do What Matters Most
    The most common casualties of an excessively busy life are the things that matter most to you, the things you want to give more attention to. Don't spread yourself too thin -- you must choose, you must prioritize. In order to both do well and be happy, you must say "No thank you" to many projects, people and ideas. "Cultivate your lilies and get rid of your leeches."
  2. Create a Positive Environment
    When the emotional atmosphere is less than positive, people lose flexibility, the ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity, trust, enthusiasm, patience, humor and creativity. When you feel safe and secure, you feel welcomed and appreciated. You think better, behave better and are better able to help others.
  3. Find Your Rhythm
    Get in the "zone," follow your "flow" -- research has proven that this state of mind elevates all that you do to its highest level. When you find your rhythm, you allow your day to be taken care of by the automatic pilot in your brain so the creative, thinking part can attend to what it is uniquely qualified to attend to.
  4. Invest Your Time Wisely
    Allocate your time so as to get maximum return. Try not to let time be stolen from you or let yourself fritter it away -- use the Time Value Assessment to guide you in what to add, preserve, cut back on and eliminate.
  5. Don't Waste Time Screen-Sucking
    This is the modern addiction: the withdrawal of looking at a computer, BlackBerry, smart phone, etc. Break the habit of having to be near your computer at all times by changing your environment or structure -- move your screen to a different room, schedule an amount of time you are allowed to be on the computer or plan mandatory breaks.
  6. Identify and Control Gemmelsmerch
    Gemmelsmerch is the force that distracts a person from what he or she wants to or ought to be doing. It is as pervasive and powerful as gravity. Assess your surroundings to identify sources of gemmelsmerch in your environment, then make a conscious effort to control and overcome distractions.
  7. Delegate
    Delegate what you don't like to do or are not good at, if you possibly can. Your goal should not be to be independent, but rather, effectively interdependent. You do for me and I do for you -- this is what makes life possible.
  8. Slow Down
    Stop and think. Ask yourself: what's the hurry? Why wake up already impatient, rush around and try to squeeze in more things than you should, thereby leading you to do all of it less well? Your hurry is your enemy.
  9. Avoid Frazzling
    In other words, don't multitask ineffectively. Give one task your full attention, and you will do it better. You may eventually get so good at it that your conscious mind can attend to other aspects of the task other than menial ones. This is the only way a human can multitask effectively.
  10. Play
    Imaginatively engage in what you are doing. This will bring out the best part of your mind, focus you on your task and make you more effective and efficient.
Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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