Busy All the Time???

By: Tajamul Baig

If you are always behind, running late, worn down and tired out, chances are you are chronically busy.

You might also be chronically busy if …

  • you answer the question “How are you?” with “crazy-busy”, “so busy”, or “great but really busy”.
  • most people start a conversation with you like this, “I know you are busy but …”
  • you wish you could spend more time doing things you truly enjoy
  • you wish you could spend more time with people you truly enjoy
  • you still think you might get it all done

I used to be busy all the time too. Busy made me feel important, accomplished, wanted and maybe even loved and appreciated. On the flip side, busy wore me down, diluted my efforts, kept me from fully engaging in my most important relationships and ultimately, made me sick.

I couldn’t begin to slow down until I realized that I chose my busy lifestyle. It may have been by default, but I did choose to be busy. And then, when I realized how damaging busy was, I felt stuck. How could I make a change now? I had bills to pay, people to please and couldn’t find a way out.

There is hope and a chance for you to enjoy your life instead running crazy all day long. Try out these solutions for the chronically busy:

 Take Back Your Mornings.
It all starts when you open your eyes in the morning. Those eyes are either on email or Facebook before your feet hit the floor, or turned inward for a few moments of peace of quiet. Start with 2-3 minutes all for you and then gradually increase your time. Wake up earlier, or rearrange your morning so you can eventually have 30 minutes or more to create a meaningful morning routine and start the day your way.

 Redo Your To-do
If your to-to list is 2 pages long and never done, it’s time for new plan. Keep a running list in a notebook or on workflowy.com if it helps you feel less stressed, and then write down the 3 things you want to accomplish most on a 3X5 index card and focus on those three things.

Eat the Same Thing
Find a family favorite meal and plan on that for dinner 3 nights a week. Try one simple meal, and say goodbye to running by the grocery store everyday or the temptation to pick up take out on the way home.

Consider the Possibility that Your Busyness is Selfish
You may justify your busyness by reminding yourself that you are serving everyone around you. It’s true that you are busy doing things for other people, but an intentional slow down will allow you to give even more to the right people. By pulling back, you have a chance to find out what you really need and what the people around you really need and develop a greater sense of community and contribution.

Remove Busy from Your Vocabulary
Saying things, like “I’m so busy” or “I’m fine, but really busy” only results in feeding egos, competing with other people, making an excuse, or feeling like a victim. Just stop telling people how busy you are. Stop saying it. Stop identifying with it and stop defining yourself by how busy you are.

Unplug
After an internet-lite holiday, I can’t stress how important it is to shut your computer, put down the iPad and turn off your phone on a regular basis. Set boundaries that work for your lifestyle and once you unplug, go for a walk or give someone or something 100% of your attention. When you fall in love with your right now, you can let go of what’s waiting in my inbox anxiety.

Staying busy is initially easier than change. When you are busy and your day is planned with back to back activities and obligations, you have the illusion of control. There is no room for the unexpected or unplanned.

All it takes is one step towards simplicity, towards doing less and enjoying more. It is so worth that first step.