What Happens When We Reject The Glorification Of Being Busy?
When did it get so trendy to be busy? Perhaps you’ve also noticed the rise of busy. If you bump into a friend and ask how they are doing, “busy” will likely be their answer. Obviously, we all want to lead productive lives but it is worth being mindful that this glorification of “busy” can be incredibly detrimental to our wellbeing. Many of us find that we somehow feel the need to be rushing at any given moment, determined to project an air of being busy all of the time.
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life” – Socrates
Modern life seems to involve being hyper-connected, hyper-busy, and hyper-stressed. The problem with being so busy all the time is that we often end up spreading our efforts too thinly, without meaningful focus and proper prioritisation. We get dragged in all directions by the demands of others and fail to take time out for what is truly important and, ultimately, what makes us truly happy. Making a conscious decision to stop being busy; giving ourselves permission to use our energy more efficiently, and giving more of ourselves to the things that really matter can be transformational. With a little reorganisation, placing focus on changing some ingrained habits, it is quite possible to rapidly alter our chaotic trajectory. Being un-busy is where it’s truly at!
Choose Your True Priorities
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the first step towards becoming less busy and more focused is identifying the things we are not doing. Ask yourself; is there something you really wish you were doing? Most of us have at least one thing in the back of our mind that we wish we were pursuing; a defining behaviour of the version of ourselves we wish we could be. For me, that used to be writing. I wanted to write but never seemed to have time for it. The truth was I wasn’t prioritising for the life I really wanted.
Perhaps a management training course would give you new skills to propel your business forward, but you’ve been so busy working that you haven’t prioritised the things that would enable you to make your career more prosperous and less demanding. Perhaps you wish you had more quality time with your family, but only ever seem to see the kids when they are watching television and you are busy doing something else. Take some time to sit with some paper and a pen and think through what really matters to you in this precious life that you have, both professionally and personally, and get started on a list that gets you excited about the changes you can make.
“Boredom helps to restore the perception that one’s activities are meaningful or significant.” – Andreas Elpidorou
De-Clutter, In Every Sense
Your aim is to de-clutter your life, inside and out. So we’ll start at home. As they say, the things we own end up owning us, and it’s extraordinary how much time we waste on things we have but don’t need, so engage everyone in your household in a thorough clear out. Your mind will be lighter and your home more spacious, not to mention easier to clean!
There are many ways to become more efficient. Streamline your weekly shopping and food preparation. Make a cleaning and laundry schedule that holds everyone to account. Backed up chores are absolute time killers. Organise your working area too. Make the things you need the most accessible and get rid of unnecessary items. Adopting a selective but fairly ruthless form of minimalism can make us far more efficient.
Open Up Space In Your Schedule
Make a commitment to open up windows in your schedule to simply be. An increasing raft of studies suggests that in our technology-embracing but constantly distracted state we are losing out on a lot of creative potentials. Indeed, spending time with our inner thoughts serves as a sort of self-checking mechanism and delivers the space for free, creative, and exploratory thoughts to sprout.
Try putting aside time each morning to sit comfortably with yourself, screen free, and see how your mind wanders. Try scheduling a walk, or meditation as part of your weekly routine and observe the effect this has on your stress levels. If you can block out one day a week that is totally work free, do so, and stick to it.
“Daydreaming incubates creative discovery.” – Daniel Goleman
Use The Human Resources At Your Disposal
Recruit help in your effort to be less busy, and make sure you use it intelligently. Explore ways that your employees or Personal Assistant could be engaged in freeing up your time. Delegate wisely, at work and at home. If you employ a Nanny, choose the activities your children do with the Nanny carefully, and then set aside purposeful windows so that you can increase the amount of meaningful time spent with the children, doing something that brings you all together. Ask your family members to join you in your reorganisation mission. They will most likely reap the benefits too.
Learn To Say “No”
I love the wisdom in the concept that we are only truly able to take care of others when we first take care of ourselves. We all like to do things for others and there is a great personal benefit to practising kindness but we must pick our battles. Saying “no” can be difficult, but when we are trying to do too many things at once we often end up doing nothing well. Learning to refuse that which is not important and choose that which is, leads to a far greater sense of achievement. Make a deal with yourself that whenever anyone asks you for something you will pause for a moment before falling into the default “yes” answer. Is it truly conducive to your goals? If not, perhaps it simply isn’t for you. Our time is precious.
“Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to.” – Rob Bell
Choose Quality Over Quantity
We find true liberation when we realise that we are making a choice each day in how we spend our time. We can choose to rush or we can choose to pause and take stock. We can choose to re-frame and re-prioritise. Life does not have to be chaos; it can be calm. When we take a step back we are able to see that we can elevate the quality elements and efforts of our life and eliminate the elements that aren’t in line with our true purpose. Next time someone asks you how you are doing, try telling them that you are practising being “un-busy”. That is sure to pique their interest!