I now laugh at how busy I used to be. I was serious about my ability to be polished in every area. I could be an excellent wife, manage a home, homeschool my three girls, organize finances, lead a support group of 40+ families, volunteer when anyone asked, cook, clean etc. I could do it all, and then some. I thought that was the path to peace. All I needed to do was keep all those plates in the air.
Everyone was doing it all, so I wanted to look as good as everyone else. I had an extra drive and that was the fact that I worked at home so I felt to prove myself, more was required. Meals had to be from scratch. I had to use cloth diapers. No shortcuts! I didn’t want to do it all. Doing it all made me exhausted. Doing it all cost me relationships with those that mattered most to me. Doing it all caused me stress, loss of sleep and anger when my world was out of my control. My busyness was less productive and more chaotic that I would ever admit to.
Becoming less busy was not an accident, but a decision I made intentionally. I made the decision that a busy life wasn’t a life for me. Being a good person, loving wife, mother and friend…that was the life I wanted. Next to that, I wanted the freedom to do things that I was passionate about instead of things that weighed heavy on me. Until I purposefully left a life of chronic busyness, I couldn’t see how silly it really was.
The snare of busyness is that sometimes you are so busy, you can’t recognize you are in trouble. You are so overwhelmed that you can’t figure out how to change. You are so used to being busy that you create more work to organize your life so you can be even busier with the hopes of accomplishing more. And, for what? I was miserable and yet trying to create more misery. A catch-22.
You may be caught up in the busyness trap, if…
- You respond to “how are you?” with “crazy busy” or “busy but good”
- You spend time worrying about how busy you are going to be tomorrow
- You get angry when your spouse or others aren’t as busy as you
- You are up at night thinking about everything you didn’t get done
- You let people know how late you stay at work or how much you get done
- You zone out during conversations thinking about all you have to do
- You volunteer for things you don’t care about
- You spend time complaining about how overwhelmed you feel
- You make list after list to make sure you don’t forget anything
- You regularly eat in your car or on the go
- You use a phone in the car because “it’s the only time you have to talk”
If you are anything like me, you are busy because you want to be or because you don’t know how to be un-busy. You are busy out of misdirected guilt because you think if you do enough, you will be enough. When you decide that it is acceptable to live life your way, you can stop being busy and start doing things that matter. You can talk about your meaningful day instead of ranting about your busy schedule. Decide today that you are enough, even if you never do anything, accomplish anything or produce anything ever again. You are enough.
How to be less busy
- Be unproductive on purpose
- Limit the times you check email each day
- Delete email and toss mail that you don’t need to read
- Turn your phone and computer off when you aren’t working
- Turn everything off in the car (except the car)
- Put your iPad down
- Help someone
- Do less, be more
- Stop trying to keep up, measure up or catch up
While you may think that you are making sacrifices for others by being busy, you are likely sacrificing the same relationships you think you are saving. Get real and consider what is most important to you. Then do that first. The rest will wait.
Practice guarding your life from the thief of busyness…
Sheri Geyer is a Christian Life Coach, Mentor, Writer, Wife & Mom