Being busy can be healthy, but being “too busy” isn’t. Being active and engaged and inspired, yes that’s healthy too. Being drained, overwhelmed and stressed out is not. It’s a fine line and most of us have crossed over it. Today being too busy causes people to feel less connected, creates children who are stressed at young ages and fosters a world where we feel spiritually, emotionally and physically “off”. We feel all this, yet we don’t do anything about it. Or, at least, don’t think we can.
How did we get so busy in the first place?
With all of the new technology and faster, easier ways of communicating, shouldn’t we theoretically be less busy and have more free time? Yet we find ourselves with less time and more to do. We are spending more and more time doing things we’ve never done before, like posting on social media or texting from our mobile device. These activities, while they feel quick in the moment, actually can cause us to feel busier. The sense that we are always “on” or always “checking in” can lead to higher levels of stress.
Why do we keep ourselves so busy?
Perhaps a part of us actually believes that being busy is a good thing. It allows us to tell other people we’re not idle — that we have “a life”. We have things to do; we’re important because we’re needed. Busy equals success in our minds. Yet for many people, this busyness has become a state of being that is a sickness. Some are even calling it a disease, or rather a dis-ease. When we’re out of ease, we becomes stressed. And stress can lead to a laundry list of health concerns most of us are trying to avoid.
Deciding to not be busy is a choice we can make.
But first we need to have a mindset shift and realize that being busy is not who we are as a person. Even though it’s all around us, we don’t have to identify with the role of a busy person. We can decide to take on less and instead experience more peace and space. We can let go of society’s expectations and decide to be who we really want to be.
You might be thinking, “There’s really nothing I can do about it,” or maybe you like being busy. But there’s no denying we are all busier today than ever before, and taking a look at what is filling up our lives to the point of exhaustion is a worthwhile exercise. You might find that half of the things keeping you busy really don’t fulfill you. What if the things you think are priorities are actually just the things that hold you back from moving towards what you truly desire?
Four steps to less-busy
Try one or more of these steps to support you in reducing your busyness and creating more peace of mind.
Step 1: Take an inventory of your busy life. What is filling up your busyness? What is on your plate? Does it really need to be? How effective is it really? Do you enjoy it? Why are you really doing it? Write it all down on a piece of paper and determine what activities you could eliminate. What would be the impact of eliminating one or two things on the list? While you might forego something you think is important, would there be an equal or greater benefit to not doing it? Once you take your inventory, be prepared to share it with others and let them know you are going to be making some changes. Be prepared that not everyone will agree with you. Stick to your new plan and try it for 30 days.
Step 2: Be present amongst the chaos. While you have a lot on your plate, try to focus on what is right in front of you rather than thinking about the next thing. Present, not future. If you find you have a lot to get through in a day, take each thing as it comes and keep breathing through it. Let your breath be a reminder to your mind to stay present. It takes practice to train your mind to stay in the present, but as with all good things practice makes permanent. At least while you are busy being busy, you can be breathing and keeping your body in a more relaxed state.
Step 3: Focus on what you do best and what you enjoy most. Stop trying to be everything and do everything. Determine what you really need to be doing and do that. If you’re in business for yourself, figure out your unique skills and talents and focus in on what you do best rather than trying to do things that really are not your natural skill set. This is about honing in on what you are really good at and what you enjoy, and leaving the rest to someone else. In your personal life, it might mean giving up some things that despite you thinking they are important or fun, they don’t ultimately lead to more peace and pleasure.
Step 4: Remember you are a human-being, not a human-doing. You are not meant to go 24-7 at 100 miles per hour. You are not a machine. Your body needs to refuel. Your mind needs rest. Sometimes it’s the rest and the non-busyness that scares us. We wonder what we’ll find out about ourselves if we slow down. Keep in mind, anything that frightens us is usually worth investigating, and you just might discover something new about yourself.