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8 signs that you’re addicted to busyness

Many years ago I realized that I had a habit of, or perhaps even an addiction to, proving my worth through constant activity.

But before I divulge my own path to realization, I’m curious to know how many of these statements describe you?

  • As much as you crave white space on your calendar it also gives you anxiety.
  • You notice yourself checking your phone obsessively throughout the day, particularly when you are tired, overwhelmed, or anxious.
  • More than once, a close friend or family member has said something about your compulsion to engage with your phone or computer and how it affects your relationship.
  • When someone suggests that you relax and do nothing, you say to yourself or out loud, “What the heck does that even mean? What do people do when they do nothing?”
  • When you do find yourself doing nothing, you feel guilty that you aren’t being productive.
  • You mentally tally the number of productive hours you’ve had at the end of the day and judge how you feel about yourself by how full your day was.
  • You find yourself “complaining” about how busy you are while simultaneously feeling proud of having so much on your plate that you can barely breathe.
  • You say that you’re too busy to meditate, move your body, nap, hang out with your girlfriends, make love, prepare healthy food for yourself, or go on dates (with yourself, your spouse, or new people).

If 3 or more of the above statements describe you, you’re likely addicted to busyness.

For me this addiction started long ago.

Before I was even 10 years old, I used to map out my playdates and make sure I had something scheduled every day after school. I bought my first Day-Timer calendar when I was 14.

In college, I was incredibly proud of the fact that I was taking more than the required course load, performing regularly with a dance company and in musicals, and starting my first business.

This is all to say that if you’re addicted to busyness, I feel you. Big time.

We live in a culture that celebrates being busy. We are compelled by getting it all done and fitting it all in.

Our tendency to gorge ourselves on food is mirrored by our tendency to gorge ourselves on activity.

My wise uncle Phil said the following to me after he had a very vivid dream about me and my breakneck schedule:

“You’re going to have to learn to stop validating your existence through action.”

That one hit me like a punch in the gut.

What I’ve found is:

The human experience is not so individual. If it’s happened to me, it’s likely happened to you.

Here’s the thing:

Constant doing makes us miss the moment.

How many meaningful conversations in the car with my husband did I miss because I was checking my email for the twentieth time that day?

How many breaths became shallow from being caught in the spin of constant activity?

How many precious moments of stillness did I miss out on because I feared what might come up during the pause?

I’m also so very happy to report that since consciously beginning to practice doing less 5 years ago, my addiction to busyness has reduced dramatically.

Awareness is the first step so if you’re taking it today, yay!

Let’s both be aware together, shall we?

We’re ambitious. That’s awesome.

We’re capable. Go us.

We know how to make sh*t happen. No doubt.

And our worth no longer needs to be proven through action.

Let us know our worth in simply being.

Let us know we’re enough because we are.

Let us begin to let down the burden of busy.


Which one of the “addicted to busyness” statements above best describes you? Are there any other habits of your addiction? Are you ready to lay it down with me? Leave a comment below. I’m really looking forward to hearing from you

Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, mother, and founder and CEO of The Origin Company, which reaches hundreds of thousands globally. Kate is committed to supporting ambitious women to light up the world without burning themselves out. She’s the author of Do Less, the Do Less Planner System creator, and runs The Origin Membership, which helps business owners grow their business while doing less.


  • Hi Kate,
    Many of these statements pertain to how I’ve lived my life, but mostly not knowing how to rest. I’d like to share with you how that is changing.
    I’ve followed you for five years at least, was an Origin member for two years, subscribed to your podcast and have read your books. Thank you for all you give! (Notice I didn’t say, “do?” I’m learning.!)
    As a person with childhood trauma, I’ve spent my life thinking if everyone around me is ok, I’m ok. My survival techniques caused me to be selfless.
    I literally created a career from it.
    I’ve been a nurse since 1995 and a psychiatric nurse practitioner for fifteen years. At times I’ve worked four jobs at once with no days off for two years straight. Most recently I had a private practice while also working full time in a locked psych unit.
    I’ve wanted to leave nursing for years to have my own business, feeling a calling and a yearning in my soul. I spent a few years gathering resources, learning but not doing, cranking out the energy required for two full time jobs.
    Then I broke.
    I’ve not worked since last October and have been focused on healing my nervous system. I’ve dealt with extreme fatigue and daily confusion over simple tasks.
    Inch by inch, it’s gotten better.
    I’m finding the longer I’m not working, the better I feel.
    I’m learning to trust my intuition instead of responding from a place of anxiety. I’m learning to refrain from offering solutions to other’s problems. I’m learning to ask for help. Im learning to ask myself how do I want to feel instead of what do I need to do.
    As the fixer in my family, my choice to quit fixing has been quite a shift. It left me with nothing to do but feel my own feelings and create a life focused on my own fulfillment.
    I have decided I will get help with the business tasks that are not my strengths and have a phone meeting with an assistant today. This is a big step for me, asking for help and trusting the other person will take care of my wants and needs. I feel so much lighter, knowing I can focus on what I love and where my strengths lie. I’m eager to launch my business.
    I thank you sincerely for the work you do, for your teachings and reminders that it’s really about our bodies. I’ve spent a career trying to help people heal their minds, and trying to heal my own. My life turned around when I finally collapsed, my mind refused to cooperate and I was forced to listen to my body. She knew all along what I needed; I wasn’t able to hear her because I learned to ignore my bodily sensations as a child. I can tell you, that child is thrilled to be heard and loved. And guess what? She is teaching me the joy of being in the moment, as well as how to dream big.
    I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and the people I help through my business!
    Your work has been instrumental in my healing, even as I sat in the background reluctant to fully engage. Your messages planted the seeds for my growth. The love and healing you put in the world has a ripple effect; from you to me and into my family, my community and the world.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    • Team Origin

      WOW! Thank you so much for sharing Laurie – witnessing you in all your deep learnings and transformations! Thank you for taking time to share your story!

  • Teresa S

    Oh my goodness!!!! It seems I am 8/8 on that list :(
    I think some of the biggest ones is using it as a pacifier when anxious. I realize that I have even let go of using the Do Less Planner for daily journaling. During the summer I use the weekly and it has been great. I use the monthly calendar to meal plan a week at a time. I have also had things come up that have physically forced me to slow down- like falling on my knee while roller skating. I thanked God for no broken bones but took it as a hint to slow down. I am a little nervous about going back to work in August and losing myself. Thank you for these blogs!

  • Hi Kate,

    so thrilled to share my busyness farewell in real time :-).

    Handing over my power to a new “boss” can feel daunting specially when you’ve quit your corporate job for the sake of freedom.


    Over the past few years, my BODY has largely proved its LEADERSHIP skills to the point my validation through action becomes a ridiculous. Sigh…

    Do I feel clumsy and frustrated?
    Hell, yes.

    But, deep down, I know taking the time and the space to re-align my frequency to the new heights set at the Plan the rest of 2022 workshop is definitely the best way to heal the way I work (and I haven’t even watched a single lesson from the program 🤩).

    So, all I can say is THANK YOU you for holding this sacred space where we can safely navigate this blindfolded pathway.

    Here’s to a Hot Empress Summer of baby steps in the art of Doing Less! xoxo

    • Team Origin

      Thank you so much for sharing how deeply our programs have impacted you Laura! We are so enjoying witnessing your journey!

  • Paige Westley

    I feel like a lot of these statements are where I am at currently! “You notice yourself checking your phone obsessively throughout the day, particularly when you are tired, overwhelmed, or anxious.” – This is the one the got me the most. I have really learned to take time for myself lately because if I don’t and I am doing so many things, my body will want me to slow down, and if I don’t I typically get sick and then I have no choice but to slow down. Taking time for myself and my health has really changed things for me! I feel more energized and ready to do my work and when I feel this way, I often check my phone less and I am not as overwhelmed! I love this post! Thank you for sharing it!

    • Team Origin

      We are so glad to hear that this post resonated with you! Kudos to you for checking your phone less! Time for yourself makes the world of a difference! – Team Origin

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