As I shared in “Are You TOO Busy”, I’ve made a commitment to myself to get a grip on busyness in my own life. It hasn’t been easy; however, through the experience I’ve gained some insight and learned a thing or two. I’m feeling a shift take place and want to share the experience with others who are longing to move away from busyness, too.
But first a disclaimer: I could talk about this topic for days and it’s been difficult to condense all I want to share in just two blog posts. That being said, if you identify in any way with the information provided here, get the resources, books, counseling, whatever it takes, to live with a healthy schedule.
Busyness…I’ve been there. Let me take you back to my life circa 2011; I was on 4 different boards for nonprofits, I had three jobs, I had a home-based business, I was writing my first book, I spoke 59 times that year, and keep in mind that I have caregivers with me four hours out of the day. My schedule was totally and completely out of control!
My life coach asked, “Tasha, what is your biggest fear?” The answer came easy; I feared boredom. After my accident I thought I was going to be bored sitting in a wheelchair. I was determined not to let that happen and began to fill my life to stay busy. I was very good at escaping boredom, maybe too good, because I looked up one day and realized that I was stressed out, burnt out and resentful. That’s when I knew I needed a change.
As I’ve explored the topic of busyness, I think what we ultimately need to grasp is the reason behind why we all place so much importance on it. As I shared in my previous post, at some point in time busy schedules became synonymous with feelings of importance and being in demand.
I can illustrate this with an example from my own life… People will often ask me about my speaking schedule and say, “So have you been busy?” How do I answer this question? If I’m not busy then does that say that I’m not in demand, that what I’m doing is not important, and therefore my life is not as valued compared to those who are busy?
One other reason that I’ve discovered for why we are so busy is because we feel that we need to be involved in everything. We overcommit to too many things and we lack the discipline that it takes to choose balance in work and play. And for many of us, we’re afraid to say no.
Now that we understand how we got so busy, what can we do about it? Here are the top three strategies that helped me to finally get a grip and live a life that’s both healthy and satisfying.
Prioritize: If we are going to make real change and keep a healthy schedule then we must prioritize. For me that meant listing out all the things that I had going on in my life and making a decision about what should stay and what should go.
Make your long list and then ask yourself these questions: What’s truly important? What can I delegate? Does that really need to be done? Back in 2011 when I finally woke up and saw how busy my life had become, I had to prioritize my life starting from scratch. When I did, a miraculous thing happened! I saw my calendar open up so that the things that I truly wanted could come in.
Find balance: Whether we admit it or not we are the ones that create our schedule. I know there are some things that have to be done and are not fun, and that kids create a whole different schedule. However, ultimately we need to realize that it’s up to us to truly examine our lives to see if we have balance between work and play.
For example, prior to marriage I had been single for close to 10 years, and so was used to doing my own thing and setting my own schedule. I chose to work most of the time. I love what I do and have a hard time calling it work, therefore, it was normal for me to work until 9 o’clock at night or until I went to bed. Now keep in mind that because I’m self-employed, there were days when I had lunch with friends or spent time with family and my nieces, so I was not working all the time, but generally if I was home, by myself, I chose to work.
Then, along came Doug. Shortly after getting married we soon realized that my schedule was not going to work. Doug’s love language is quality time. So if I was going to be a good wife then I was going to need to allow time in my daily schedule to be spent with Doug. I’d like to say that I easily transitioned to this, but I did not. Doug would get home from the gym in the evening around 6:00pm and I would still be in my office working. I actually felt that I was just getting started for the day and Doug would want me to close it down. This resulted in a few arguments and discussions about balance. Even though I could see my life was not balanced I thought it was normal to work all the time. This is not normal! Thankfully, my marriage taught me the power of balance.
Stay committed: It’s important to realize that living life in a less busy way takes focus and commitment. When we get too comfortable old habits gradually begin to creep in. I still find there are times when I have lists upon lists of things to do, flagged emails that take up a whole page, and I feel like I’m never going to get caught up.
It happens to the best of us and that’s why it’s important to realize that shifting out of busyness takes continued focus and the willingness to try new strategies. One resource that I found to be extremely helpful is a book entitled, “There Is Not Enough Time… And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” by Jill Farmer. This book helped me to prioritize and provided some much-needed guidelines on work, play and tangible ways to prioritize and live with a healthy schedule. It is a must if you feel that this blog post was written for you!
I hope I have inspired you in some small way to get your schedule under control. It could cost you your family, your marriage, your health and ultimately your life, if you don’t. Seriously, you won’t regret it!