Busy is a strange badge to wear and yet so many people don’t feel successful or worthy without being busy.
Repeat after me: “I am worthy regardless of how much or how little I do. I am not my work”. The truth is you are a great deal bigger than your work, you are defined by what you are not by what you do. Being busy will only deter you from the experience of being into doing. With that, the fun in life is replaced by anxiety and dislike for your day.
Stop this at once. It is damaging for your brain and body and won’t actually help you achieve anything faster. Multi-tasking is about doing a little bit of everything to a poor degree. Alas there is hope found in a wonderful trend gaining some serious traction among people seeking mindfulness known as single-tasking. Single-tasking requires that you stay in the moment and focus fully on each task one at a time as you are doing it and nothing else. Some mental mantras to begin your present task and keep you focused:
- ‘I am focused and calm’
- ‘I am in flow with my project’
- ‘I am positive, productive and present’
Whenever I find my thoughts running away with something other than what I am currently doing I use mantras. These little reminders help you with where to put your focus whilst keeping you peaceful and present.
To Do Lists
They’re useful little things but we can beat ourselves up over what we haven’t done and overwhelm ourselves with multi-tasking (I recommend avoiding this). Instead have no more than two tasks on your to do list – that’s right just two! If it can be achieved in under ten minutes it shouldn’t be on your list.
When “how are you?” is followed by “very busy, actually I have so much to do” its time to change the way you speak. It is time you put the term ‘busy’ to bed. Changing the language you use can make a difference to how the mind processes the present situation you are experiencing. You become what you think and what you say more often than not and if you tell yourself you’re busy you will feel the experience of ‘busyness’ and the physical body will process stress hormones accordingly. Instead of using the B word try these, and if you say them often enough you might just mean them:
- I’m on top of everything (so I’m taking the afternoon off)
- I’m feeling clear and ready for my next task/project
- Doing swell, my work is progressing at a pace that works for me
- I’m feeling free, relaxed, calm, balanced, successful
More often than not people will express what they believe about themselves. You will live up to the beliefs you have of yourself whether they embody who or how you wish to be or not. If you believe that you have to be busy, you will be and you will experience stress, anxiety and motion (not necessarily progress), because those are the primary emotions you associate with busy. How do you think you would feel if instead the words you spoke were focused, progressing, calm or successful? They generate only positive outcomes and certainly allow you to feel at peace in the present moment.
Two questions to consider:
- What are the most important things to me?
- How am I currently spending my time?
More often than not these two questions have answers that aren’t in alignment. Being aware of how you’re spending your time versus what’s actually important can help you to delegate time more effectively. Is cooking for yourself of primary importance or would pre-cooking some of your meals for the week allowing you down-time to read or journal be a better match for your values and happiness. Is having time to connect to your loved ones of high priority on your values list? If it is where can you dedicate that time? For me I like to spend either early mornings writing and meal times specifically focused on talking to my partner, we also have other time that focuses on us, which means social media gets maybe an hour or less per day.
Make time for yourself a priority, schedule it in and make it just as important as your work time. Whether your ‘you-time’ includes meditating, jogging, reading or indulging in a captivating television series, be sure to prioritize it as just as important as brushing your teeth, or showering.
20 minutes (or less) is how much time I like to delegate to daily chores each day and if you have a partner or little ones include them in those minutes; how much can you get done? No, this isn’t a deep clean but I can certainly get the laundry on, straighten a room and vacuum a few more with this time. If you want to spend more time doing what makes you happy and less time on the daily’s set a timer and beat the clock!
You’re probably thinking 20 minutes is not enough time to get the daily cleaning done, but it is if you get into the minimalist zone with what you own. Having less not only helps the savings account but it ensures less clutter and a great deal less time maintaining, cleaning, dusting and sorting your possessions. How can you minimize what you own? Read this post I wrote on How to Become A Minimalist.
For Your Hearts Sake
If the above left you asking: why should I bother avoiding being busy? After all everyone is doing it. Then hopefully the following reasons will help you to see that life at the sprinting pace will leave you last in the end. Initially stress will cause headaches and then migraines, diarrhea and stomach pain. After awhile of moving at this level the immune system becomes impaired which leads to constant colds, coughs and other infections that the body is struggling against. Given long enough at a high stress level major health concerns such as high blood pressure and heart disease become quite real possibilities.
Busyness can take over your life in more ways than one. Stress from busyness stops your mind from relaxing which means you won’t be present and you probably wont be sleeping as well. Self care in general will be low which means you will be unlikely to eat nourishing food, because who has time to cook when there is so much to do? Lets not forget your loved ones who will come second or third or be missed entirely. It’s all very grim I know, so lets keep it a bit lighter; being busy isn’t good for your body, inside or out, your sanity or your friends and family.
Busy does not always equal progress, so let it go by employing some of the tips above. If you have any tips that might help someone else in need of slowing down share them in the comments below.
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. – Socrates