With more “conveniences” introduced each year than ever before, how is it that we somehow increasingly feel that there is less time to get everything done? Aren’t all these gadgets, computers, systems, and lists supposed to help us?
Just ask almost anyone, “How’s it going?” and you’re likely to hear, “I’m good but busy” or “Crazy busy!” or “I’m swamped!”
When did we get so busy? And why is the business of busy-ness so pervasive?
Lately I’ve been thinking about this a lot as it’s showing up as a common theme with many of my coaching clients. The feeling of not having enough time is the biggest obstacle people face in achieving optimal health, wellness, and a thriving life.
Maybe you can relate.
Do you feel as though you’re chasing your tail to catch up, yet not making any progress on much of anything? As soon as one thing is crossed off the list, five more are added and the feeling of overwhelm surmounts? You feel tightness in your chest, have difficulty sleeping or relaxing, bite everyone’s heads off, feel like crying if one more thing is added to your plate, and can’t quiet your incessantly talkative mind?
If some or all of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
“I need a vacation,” you think. But when you do take the occasional vacation, that even feels stressful because of the relentless pile of to-do’s that increase ten-fold upon your return to the “real world.”
So in an effort to get ahead, you chase your tail faster thinking that it will result in progress. But sadly, the chasing of tails never amounts to forward progress, so the cycle continues. Sometimes for years. Sometimes for decades. Sometimes for lifetimes.
Then what's the answer, you ask? Well, first, I need to ask a few important questions:
- Do you really (I mean really?) want to stop being so busy? (Sounds like a trick question, and it kind of is. Sometimes there are things about being busy that benefit us, like: feeling important, having a legitimate reason for getting out of things we don't want to do; having the feeling of being productive; not being bored, etc.)
- Do you believe you are the one controlling how you spend your time? (Or do you feel that everyone else in your life dictates what you do and you have no say in the matter?)
- Are you ready to do what it takes to create more space in your life?
If you answered "yes" to all three of those questions, then you, my friend, are ready, and I can help! It might not be easy to do, but I'm a living, breathing example of someone who once was suffocatingly overwhelmed and has now found lasting peace of mind and space for free time. Ahhhhhh.
How did I do it? Here are my 5 steps to freedom from being too busy:
1. Re-evaluate everything. We tend to convince ourselves that everything on our to-do list is super important, which adds to the feeling of overwhelm. But if we get really honest and look objectively at our lives, many of the things we spend our time doing or thinking about can be eliminated altogether. Make a big list of the recurring to-do's that show up every week. Look at each item objectively and ask the following questions:
· Does this REALLY need to be done? (e.g. Maybe this year you could skip sending out 100 holiday cards.)
· Does it have to be done by ME? (Can someone else do it, even if it would mean you have to pay for someone else to do it or train them to do it?)
· Does it have to be done NOW? (Maybe it can be on the list for next week and you can spend time right now on things that truly need your attention.)
· Does it have to be done AS OFTEN as I'm currently doing it? (e.g. Does my daughter HAVE to go to her dance class 3 times a week or could we change that to once a week?)
2. Learn to say no. This was a doozy for me. But the more I practiced, I began to realize that people will still love me if I say no; that the party will still go on if I'm not there; that just someone asking a question doesn't mean I am obligated to say yes. If saying “no” is too scary for you, then start with this: When someone asks you to do something for them/with them, answer by saying, “I’ll take a look at my calendar and get back to you.” This gives you some time to decide whether you REALLY want to do that thing or not.
3. Befriend your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out.) I was afflicted with FOMO way before it was a trendy acronym. I remember being a young girl, lying on the couch singing along while my dad played guitar and never wanted to go to bed because I was fearful I would miss out! This fear was some of what fed my habits as an adult to stay up too late, be involved in too many things, and saying yes to every event I was asked to participate in. But now I know that when I’m consciously CHOOSING what I spend my time doing, I am ALL IN and not missing out on anything else that could be happening.
4. Make a date with yourself. If you put it on your calendar, guess what? It is more likely to happen! If free time to recharge your batteries is important to you, then honor it by making it a must! Put it on your calendar and commit to making it happen. Get up 15 minutes early to meditate. Schedule that babysitter. Take a half-day off of work. You are the only one responsible for your wellbeing. Please take this job seriously.
5. Give yourself permission to THRIVE. No one wants a spouse, mom, co-worker, employee, or friend who’s stressed out all the time. Remember this next time you think you have to put another thing on your already full plate. It is not selfish. It is necessary! You know how they give the oxygen mask to the parents first in the event of losing cabin pressure on a plane? That’s because you can’t be of any assistance to anyone else if you’re not alive! This may be a dramatic example but really. Think about it. Are you able to be your best if you’re falling apart at the seams? I think you know the answer.
I know change is not easy. Challenging yourself to be the best version of yourself can be just that: a challenge! But believe me, it’s worth it and everyone you know and love will thank you for it. Especially your kids! They will have a model of what it looks like to value their wellbeing and create clear loving boundaries to promote a balanced thriving life.
Your personal thrive coach,