How many times have you heard this?
Person 1: “How have you been?”
Person 2: “Busy”
I could easily be 1 or 2 because this describes me and most of the people that I know.
When did it become a badge of honor to be overwhelmingly busy? I am as guilty as the next person and regularly commit to more than I can handle. Why? I guess I feel this need to do everything that I possibly can, in an attempt to live my life to the fullest. Or maybe I am just bad at saying no.
As a result, I am regularly overwhelmed, stressed and rushed. So, from now on, I am going to consciously decide & plan to be LESS busy in an effort to actually live more. Sound crazy? Yup. Ironically, it will likely take more work than to simply stay overwhelmed and over-scheduled.
Here is the plan (written in the voice of me telling this to myself):
- Learn to say NO. You do not have to say “yes” to every request for your time. You don’t have to volunteer for every school activity. Don’t have to agree to every client rush request. Don’t have to go to every birthday party. Pick the requests that you genuinely want to spend your time on.
- Schedule ME time. After many years in the corporate world, I get the need to schedule my time to make sure it all gets done (is Outlook a verb?). But if the time for yourself only comes along when there is a free slot in the calendar, it won’t happen. Put yourself FIRST (at least sometimes). Schedule the time to do what you need to chill. Yoga. A Walk. Meditation. A Chick Flick. Gardening. Reading at the coffee shop.
- Pad the Timeline. I get there are things you have to commit to. But do they have to be done by tomorrow? Would an extra day be a big deal? Probably not. If that is the case, give yourself ample time so that you don’t have to become a frazzled mess meeting somewhat arbitrary deadlines.
Part of this concept is a mind shift that living life to the fullest does not have to mean doing everything possible. It is quality over quantity. A few memorable experiences are more valuable than many mediocre ones. This reminds me of the time where I bought a bunch of cheap t-shirts because they were on sale when all I really wanted was the nice shirt that was more expensive. I ended up not wearing the crappy shirts. Sadly, that has happened more than once.
Don’t use the goal of being less busy as an excuse to be a flake. If you say yes to an invitation, this can’t be justification to not show up because today becomes a “less busy day”. If you say you am going to be be there, be there. And be careful of saying no to the invitations of friends. At some point, the friends may stop inviting. If something is important to you, find a way to include it in your life. The idea here is to stop adding unimportant events to your schedule.
Part of the Kalmia Creed that I try my best to uphold is my commitment to my passion. I won’t have time for my passions if I am not selective about what I put into my calendar. Basically, if it is not something that will bring joy to my day (or is something that I have to get done for my family or my business) it may have to wait.
There may be times in life when being really busy is welcome and needed. After a really sad life event like the death of a loved one, it may help to fill that calendar up as much as you can. I get that completely. However, recognize when your mind and body need a slow down. Nothing good comes from being over-scheduled, stressed and frazzled.
If you are super busy and love your life that way, congrats. I am in no way trying to judge people who are happy being busy. I am speaking to the women I know who when asked “how have you been” – reply “busy” in a despondent and overwhelmed tone. It does not have to be that way. You have choices. You have control over those choices. Live the life you want.