Being busy is a badge of honor in today’s society.
When you ask a friend, “How are you? What’s been going on?” More often then not, she will reply, “Oh, fine. But I’m SO BUSY.”
And if we are honest, we do the exact same thing. We list off things we are doing (kid’s activities, work, travel, organizing, working out, cleaning, etc.) as a way to show how important we are. And then we compare our list to our friend’s list to see who wins the battle of busyness. It becomes a way to show our status.
And while there will always be an amount of busyness to our lives, this non-stop, never-at-home, planning for the next thing is doing severe damage to our souls, relationships, and lives. And, even crazier, it is a choice we make.
Let me say that again…
The art of busyness is a CHOICE.
What is the Art of Busyness?
According to an article in SELF Magazine, the art of busyness is being so…
“preoccupied with thinking, planning, logistics, and list making that they’re (women) living in their heads instead of the moment – everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”
Sound familiar? I can’t tell you the number of Mondays I’ve thought to myself, “I just need to get to Friday, and then everything will be settled down.” And between Monday and Friday are some cool events with my family, and often times, I’m not in the moment, I’m planning for the next thing.
How Do You Say No To The Art of Busyness?
Unfortunately, you can’t decide to get off the busyness train one day and expect zen-like happiness. Why? Because while you have decided to get off, everyone around is still on board moving to the next destination. You need a plan.
Step #1: Understand How You Got To This Point.
Set aside some time to evaluate how you got to this point. A little stress, novelty and challenge is good for our lives. Too much busyness, however, can bring on feelings of anxiety, foul moods, and sickness. (I know that one first hand.) The goal is to find your busyness sweet spot.
Take a few moments and write down all of the activities you are currently participating in. Then ask yourself these questions to evaluate the “why” behind them.
- On a scale of 1 (meaning NOT AT ALL) to 10 (VERY), how important is this activity to you? How important is it to the person who is doing it (kids or husband)? Do those numbers matchup?
- Looking at each activity, why is it done? Do you like it or is it to impress the Jones?
- Are your friends made up solely of the people in the activity?
- Do you say yes out of guilt? Because you believe no one else could do it as good as you?
- Does this activity fill you up after its completed or does it rob you of happiness?
And finally, write down the four things that are most important to you. Does the time you spend on them correlate? (For example, if you put “relationship with husband” as number one, but it had been sixty days since your last date, something is out of whack.)
Step #2: Stepping Off The Busyness Train for 30 Days
Once you have evaluated your activities, it’s time to step off the busyness train for 30 days. I’m not going to lie to you, this is going to be hard, especially if you have been on the “express busyness train” for some time.
However, completely stopping the busyness for 30 days let’s you evaluate the activities, relationships, and commitments that come with being busy. Here are some tips to get to you started.
- Fulfill your current obligations, but say “NO” to every new opportunity that comes your way for 30 days. This includes meeting girlfriends for dinner, bringing pencils into a classroom, or going to a club/meeting. By creating a blanket “NO”, you take away any guilt. You are saying “NO” to everything – regardless of its merits.
- Keep a journal about how you feel when you say “NO”. You may find you were bummed to miss weekly yoga with your friends, but were relieved to say “NO” to cooking club.
- Get rid of busyness distractions in your life. For me, this included taking Facebook and Twitter off my smart phone and starting a “no-Screen Sunday” policy for our whole family. Again, taking drastic steps forced me (and my family) to start putting the things that were the most important, first.
- With a clear understanding of what is important to you, it’s time to say goodbye to commitments that aren’t bring either you or your family joy. At the end of the 30 days, it should become clear some of the activities that you could eliminate from your routine.
Step #3: Starting Over
As I said at the beginning, we will always have some level of busyness in our lives. The goal is to not have so much that we are missing out on the moment at hand or are stressing ourselves out to the point where it clouds our judgement and makes us sick.
Here are a few things I did to help keep myself from falling back into the busyness trap.
- Four item to-do list. A four item to-do list requires me to put the important stuff first, and unimportant stuff falls away. Success is also easily attainable – getting everything on my to-do list done makes me feel good.
- Take my temperature every 45 days. If I’m in my sweet spot, I don’t feel stressed out, I feel excited about the week. If I feel stressed or anxious, it’s time to start saying “NO” and be mindful of busyness distractions.
- I quit comparing myself to others. Accepting the fact that my worth as a mom, friend, colleague is not tied to my ability to be busy was freeing. My worth is tied to my relationship with others, which is easier to concentrate on, when I’m in the moment.
Remember, saying “NO” to the art of busyness is a choice. Our society will always have “things to do”, “people to see” or “events to plan”. Choosing activities that bring you joy and fill you up allow you to stay in the moment and focus on what is important to you – and that is worth way more than getting a 27-item to-do list done.
And if you liked this article, you may like my article on the 20/20/20 Method – How Busy Moms Fuel Their Minds, Body, and Souls.
Like this post? Make sure to follow my Whole Natural Living Board on Pinterest where I post things like this, plus other ways to have a whole natural living lifestyle.