The art of busyness has become a competition and doing busy well is an art. The idea that “you can’t possibly be as busy as I am,” is continually implied in our daily conversations, as though the busiest people are somehow the most accomplished and successful.
I’m tired of busy, aren’t you?
I’m tired that as a culture we are using it as an excuse to not show up, both for others and for ourselves. We rarely stop to help one another, to notice the needs around us, because we are so wrapped up in hurrying from one task to the next.
And I am just as guilty as the next person.
When we’re too busy to stop and look around us, other people notice. They learn to not ask anything of us. They learn that we have no time for them. And the self-importance we think we earn through being busy diminishes into invisibility.
Why do we cling to life so tightly? Is there joy in growing old at a pace we can never keep up with? Or is true joy found in tasting, touching and savouring the things and people that we love the most?
Busyness and Mental Wellness
I worry about what this racing through life means for our mental wellness. When we are overly busy we run on autopilot, not fully present in our emotions or in the moment. We are in a constant “flight or fight” mode. And in that lack of presence anxiety can go through the roof.
One thing I try to emphasize with my clients is the need to create space. Space to check in with self. Space to be aware of what is happening in the mind (thoughts) and body (tight muscles, overstressed digestive system…and more.) We hear about the need to create space all the time, and yet we don’t do it. We don’t see it as necessary or productive. And yet, it is the one thing that will bring more clarity and productivity to the rest of the day. Space can look like meditation, prayer, or simply taking a few minutes to focus on the breath. One question I like to ask myself is, “What do I need in this moment, and from this day?”
Why Busy has become a competition
When we are perceived by others as being busy it jacks up our sense of self-importance. It gives us a purpose and makes us feel like we are living a meaningful life. If we are busy we are important. But unless that “busy” life is filled with our passions and space for our creativity and emotions to breathe, we are not serving ourselves or anybody else in a positive way.
What does YOUR busy look like?
If you lose yourself in busy; if it makes you feel lost or disconnected, stressed out or overwhelmed, it’s not a productive kind of busy. That kind of busy doesn’t earn you extra brownie points or make you more important than your less busy friend; that kind of busy will only drain you of life.
I once heard it said that the number one thing people regret at the end of their lives is rushing through it all and not stopping to savour the moment.
And in our minds we know this; we know that slowing down is the best thing we can do for ourselves. Yet still we press on, packing as much as we possibly can into a 20-hour day that should really be 16, squeezing all we can out of every minute, like time is a gushing torrent of water and we can never keep sync with its rhythm.
Doing Busy Well
1. Savour your time
Time is the most precious thing we have. Yet it can be cruel and relentless. The seasons come and go whether we are prepared for them or not. So we try to keep up by cramming more into the moment. But instead of squeezing more out of life through cramming, the opposite happens and time seems to evaporate before our eyes.
To slow down time, we must savour time.
2. Learn to say ‘no’
In the Western world we are blessed with opportunity. We have the freedom and means to do so much more than the previous generation. But we think that means we have to do it all. We compare ourselves to others on social media and don’t want to miss out, so we keep doing and comparing. Do. Compare.
What are your core needs, passions, values and responsibilities? Learn to say no to anything that doesn’t line up with them.
3. Learn to say ‘yes’
We have become so busy we can often overlook things that can dramatically improve our lives. We get caught up in our routines and forget about the opportunities and needs around us. It takes discernment and a commitment to our true selves to know which things are deserving of our time.
4. Stop comparing
Comparison steals our authenticity and joy, and creates anxiety. Stop. If you live the life you are meant to live without constantly looking to see how you measure up to others, many of those time-sucking activities will no longer be important to you.
5. Know that you have enough time
You have enough time for the things that matter. Those things that we cherish at the end of our lives–a kind word, a smile, the touch of a loved one, the simple beauty around us. These are the things we have time for.
So, how are you using your time? Are you doing busy well? Share in the comments — I’d love to hear from you.