Bust Through the Busyness
When was the last time you just sat quietly without scrolling your phone, watching tv, posting to Snapchat, or catching up on your email?
How many times this week have you told someone that you were "too busy" to attend an event, make a phone call, schedule a playdate or meeting, or get a workout in?
How often do you feel as though instead of simplifying your life, technology really serves to put pressure on you to cram more things in?
We are a society of chronically busy people, so much so that it is almost expected that we be in constant motion or production, and we experience feelings of guilt and anxiety when we sit, take a break, or do not have anything to do. We brag about working 15-hour days or the number of tasks we managed to accomplish before noon.
But when does "busy" turn into overwhelm or burnout?
How many of the things on our schedules are there because we think that we should do them, rather than because they feel good?
As a lifelong perfectionist and someone who constantly puts pressure on herself to excel at absolutely everything, these are concepts that I have struggled with over the years without even really realizing that I was struggling. We have normalized chronic busyness. To me, my jam-packed schedule was impressive. Not having weekend plans meant I wasn't well liked. Not staying late at the office meant I wasn't a diligent employee.
Until recently I realized that there is power in presence.
I noticed that whatever activity I was doing, I wasn't fully present and engaged because I was thinking about the time or the next thing on my schedule or how tired I was or the stress-induced muffin top bulging over my pants.
But holy crap do you even KNOW the world that is availableto you when you slow the heck down and get present in what you are doing? The inspiring people that you can connect with? The beautiful memories to be made? The joy and spaciousness with which you can approach every task in your planner?
I know, it seems like a fantasy. And not every day is like that for me by any means, but I am constantly checkin in and retooling my approach to my agenda to try to find some harmony and allow myself the space to just be. And breathe. And get in touch with the gorgeous planet around us. So here are some of the strategies that I use and questions that I constantly ask myself. Hopefully they can assist you as well to stop clinging to "busy" and create some ease and harmony in your life.
1) What would change for you if you took 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoon to just be still, turn off your phone, and quiet your mind?
I am conducting this 5-minute experiment in my life right now, and I can tell you that in just a few short days my perspective has shifted. Taking just 5 minutes in meditation in the morning helps prepare me for the day, visualize what I want to accomplish, and define and eliminate the things from my schedule that don't feel good. My 5 minutes in the afternoon are sooo necessary because by then I tend to be in Energizer bunny mode, so the 5 minutes calms me the heck down and helps me to refocus to move through the rest of my day with so much more ease.
2) Restructure your schedule. Every morning define what is the most essential thing (or things) for you to get done that day. Reaaaally break it down and ask yourself what is absolutely essential that you get done TODAY. Chances are there are some things that can be pushed a day or two. What can be cut out? What can you delegate? What are you placing a ton of importance on that maybe isn't that important? What can you hire a teenager or freelancer to do that will open up so much time for you? What are you doing to impress others but doesn't feel good to yourself? (Is a 12-hour workday REALLY essential? If you valued and took care of yourself would you really do it?)
3) Stop "shoulding" all over yourself. How do you want to feel during your day? What activities and actions will bring you to that? There are always going to be things that we feel like we should do, but more often than not those are not things that will serve us. A good litmus test for this is to ask yourself how youw ill feel when you have completed the task. For example, if you wake up in the morning and you really don't want to work out, but you know that you will feel so good when you do, then that is something that will serve you. However, if you feel like you should go to the office happy hour but you know it will prevent you from getting to the gym, making dinner, or spending time with your family at home (and you really don't like those fools anyway), then maybe it isn't that important. Trade should for what feels good.
4) Stop scrolling. Seriously, stop it. And I am speaking to myself here too. Browsing your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter feeds every 30 minutes accomplishes nothing and it increases your stress levels. The best strategy I have found is to allot 10-15 mins in the morning and 10-15 mins in the evening for casual social media browsing and then nip. it. in. the. bud. It's like my mama used to say about my curfew, "Nothing good happens after midnight anyway."