Definitions for Slammed:
- Closed forcefully and loudly
- Placed somewhere with great force
- Verbally cut or violently criticized
- A car body lowered close to the ground
- Very drunk
- Extremely busy, not having enough time to get everything done, having many responsibilities, unable to do some things because too busy with others, having so much to do that one cannot get it all done, overwhelmed with work.
Lately, we have been thinking a lot about #6. The truth is, we didn’t set out to write our book Slammed: Succeeding in a World of Too Busy. We intended to write a different book—one about business strategy and execution. But everywhere we traveled, in talking to countless clients across the country, people in airports waiting on planes, baristas behind the coffee counters town by town, parents in line at the grocery store, we found that all were crying the same lament: “I’m slammed. I am so busy! I don’t have time for [fill in the blank]”. And contrary to the claim of many business articles getting attention today, they didn’t seem proud of their “busyness.” The people we met were suffering.
The Slammed lifestyle seemed to be an epidemic. Not a day went by where someone didn’t mention it. So, we abandoned our other book plans and directed our attention to this new, pressing need. Well, we meant to do that. But, we were slammed. We thought we would write the book in a year. It took four. We thought it would be a long book. It’s short.
So how did we manage to fall victim to the very phenomenon we were trying to solve?
First, we really like what we do. Our clients are amazing. We work with outstanding people, on outstanding projects. But, we don’t get to choose where they’re located. So we spend a lot of time on planes, in rental cars, and working in hotel rooms—most of the time in separate parts of the country. Co-authoring is a challenge. It was hard to get together and carve out the time to write.
But that’s not the whole reason. The other is more embarrassing.
One of the dirty little secrets held by those who find themselves in Slammed cycles, again and again, is that even though it wreaks havoc on our lives, a part of us craves the experience. It turns out that much like a drug, being busy can make us feel better about ourselves, it gives us an ego rush—I’m important! In demand! Popular! But the crash is inevitable, the high can’t be sustained, and each time we hit the wall, we feel a little worse. We feel the weight of guilt set in.
“I’m a bad time manager, I let people down.”
“I need to do more, people are depending on me.”
“I hate that I don’t have time to do what I care about most, like spending time with family.”
“I am weak, other people seem to be loving their busy lives!”
The self-loathing tape in our heads starts to play. We begin to question how we have been spending our time, what we are doing to ourselves and those we love, and we wonder what gives our lives meaning. But before we know it, the next big work project beckons, we don’t have time to think about anything else, and we are off anew on the rocket ship of the Slammed experience. It numbs us again to those pesky thoughts about our personal values and priorities, the nagging guilt we strive to outrun. Now we have crystal clear focus, we’re “on task”, and once again satiated with that wonderful feeling of being important.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
The Slammed phenomenon is not only distracting us from living our best lives, it’s literally killing us.
According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. More than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
And there is no end to the advice for curing our Slammed condition. A quick search will give you tons of self-help resources:
“9 Ways to Get Through a Busy, Chaotic Week”
“6 Tips to Keep Up When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed”
“7 Ways to Stay Organized When You Are Super Busy”
“5 Ways to Corral Your Workload”
And right next to these articles, you’ll find a wealth of criticism to make sure you also keep up on your required dose of guilt:
“Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are!”
“Busy? Stop Boasting About It!”
“Too Busy? No, You’re Not.”
So, where does all of this leave us? As Oprah would say, here is what we know for sure: the Slammed phenomenon is real—short of entering a monastery (and even then, we’re not sure)—you can’t get away from the news, work, people, ads, housekeeping, etc. that plagues today’s human experience. We live in a world that is “always on,” one that contributes to a feeling of being Slammed that is inherently dysfunctional and toxic.
It’s not realistic to try and solve the problem by disengaging. But you also can’t just hold your breath and “survive.” We must come to the collective realization that living a Slammed life is not OK. It’s not normal. And no 5-step, 7-step, or even 9-step set of practices will make it sustainable.
The solution we seek is inside of us. We can’t keep trying to manage time. And we can’t turn back the clock. Our only lasting option is to change our relationship with time—to change our minds. About what we value, and what it means to be of value.