A few years ago, I got a really hung up on the word “busy”. I noticed myself saying it a LOT. And it annoyed me. I think I even resolved (New Year’s resolution) to say it less.
What does “busy” even mean? According to Google, the adjective means having a great deal to do while the verb, is to keep oneself occupied.
Okay…and the issue wasn’t that I wasn’t busy being occupied – because I was. But it made me realise two things.
- When I said this in conversation, it felt like such a rubbish thing to say. It’s a bit like saying, “I’m fine”. It means something but then it also doesn’t really mean anything at all. It also felt a bit like I was pulling the plug on the conversation in the absence of something better to say.
- I needed to ask myself why I was so “busy”. My diary was always jam-packed. I’m not that popular, honestly, but it was as though I felt like any blank space needed to be filled. Be more productive, do more, see more people. So, I dutifully filled it. Maybe you can relate?
The second time I went on a yoga retreat, one of my fellow retreaters called me “resistant to relaxation”. And I was. She thought it was hilarious. I got better at it, and by the end of the retreat felt like I was ready to RUN out the place I had so much energy. Which is kind of the point. Sometimes, you need time to recharge your batteries. And it’s not only an energetic thing but the way our brain is wired, it needs space in order to access creativity and sometimes, moments of break-through.
I posted about how “less is more” on Instagram recently, which seems to be a popular topic these days. And while I definitely don’t have this 100% nailed, I’ve learned a few things about being “busy” over the last 10 years, and how to cut myself a bit of slack. So, I’d like to ask you, how can you cut yourself a bit of slack?
If you feel frazzled by your busy-ness, here are some ideas:
Cut back on your to-do list. Yep, that’s right, don’t re-write a to-do list that’s as long as your arm every morning. Quite frankly, it’s de-motivating. Don’t worry, you can keep your long list (I know, you’ll obviously want to tick things off) – but try making an edited version of three things you MUST do each day. If you want to go bigger, try the ONE thing you have to do that day or week.
Keep some space in your diary. Where you don’t schedule ANYTHING. How can you have time for spontaneity in your life if you have every waking hour booked up?
- Don’t automatically say yes to everything because you want to please everyone. I get it, you don’t want to let people down. But trust me, the only person you’re letting down if you over-commit yourself, is you. Ok, you’ll probably also have a few bummed out friends when you realise you can’t actually do the thing you said you could. If you aren’t sure about something, it’s ok to thank your friend for the invite and say you’ll let them know. It takes practice but start small. And no, I don’t mean keeping people hanging until the day before the event, I mean until you’ve had time to actually assess your diary commitments and work out if it’s realistic.
- Schedule some time for self-care. That doesn’t need to be having a bath. Anything that makes you feel relaxed – reading, yoga, art, walking in nature, or whatever you like. Once upon a time, we might have called self-care “leisure”.
- Have a check-in. Make some plans for your new busy-aware existence and stop to assess how you’re getting on. That could be at the end of the week, or the end of the month – you decide. Think about what’s working and what isn’t and then change up your plan if you need to.