I know very well what it is like to be a busyness addict.
I used to do so much in the day that people regularly commented that I was amazing and a superwoman and that they were so impressed with everything I accomplished.
But I wasn’t impressed.
I was addicted.
I couldn’t stop doing, doing, doing all the time.
I felt like my plate was over-flowing and my mind was going to explode but still I kept saying yes to myself and to other people.
It is easy to decide that the problem is there isn’t enough time in the day, but if we added another hour or five to each of our days, our addictions predict that we would just fill those up too.
Nobody is going to suddenly offer us a whack of free time to relax and enjoy our lives. If this is what we want we need to create it. And since we know that too much stress and not enough down time can lead to burn-out and illness, we all need to consider creating more space for happiness in our lives.
Here are seven ways to start:
#1. Ask for it
It’s easy to complain that our job is too demanding and that we have no childcare for the kids, but it is harder to show our vulnerable side and take the risk of rejection and just ask for the time we need. We can ask our spouses or family members to take the kids on Sunday afternoons or ask our bosses to change our work schedule to part-time. If we want to not be so busy, we need to look at our schedules and make a plan to lessen what is on it. It is that simple.
#2. Get clear on our priorities
Because nobody is going to stop asking us to do stuff, we need to know what our priorities are so we know what to say yes to and what to say no to. Every year I choose my top five priorities in my life and I put those first and say no to a lot of other stuff. You know what? Those five things get done. If you don’t know what you want, you won’t make the choices to get it.
#3. Be bored
It’s fine to be bored. I am bored all the time. My kids are bored all the time. I take this as a sign that we are not being pulled at all ends feeling like we can’t keep up. Being bored is an act of courage. It means being uncomfortable. It means getting a little close and personal with our own neurosis. This is a good thing—much better then feeling like we are failing in getting through our to-do list.
#4. The self-hate voice doesn’t get a say
We are often motivated by the fear of our own criticism. We are our worst haters and can be cruel to ourselves. But the self-critic doesn’t get to help us make our schedule. If it has nothing nice to say, it can say nothing at all. We all need to take a look at our choices. Are they coming from love and wanting to feel good? Or are they coming from fear and worry that we might feel bad or have regret?
#5. Say no to yourself
Ideas are great. Being a visionary is wonderful. But falling into bed exhausted and afraid of facing our own life because it is too full sucks. Sometimes I just tell my mind “no!” I say, “that is enough ideas for the day and I am closed for business.” I also give ideas away all the time. Just because it is a good idea doesn’t mean we have to do it. Make a list of ideas and then rip it up and throw it out. If the idea is a good one it will come back later. The only way not to do too much is not to do too much. That means saying no to our own ideas that often are what lead us to doing too much.
#6. Remember: there are no right decisions
Worrying that there is a right decision and wrong decision and feeling paralyzed that we need to choose correctly is the worst. Life is a constant stream of choices. Sometimes we don’t make a conscious decision at all but instead go everywhere and try to please everyone. This doesn’t usually work out very well. It usually just has the effect of making us and the people in our lives crazy. We can’t get life ‘right’; it is impossible. We just make the best choice we can and move on.
#7. This is your life
Your life is your life and mine is mine. This concept can be freeing and overwhelming. But really the point is other people’s opinions don’t count. We and we alone have to live in the reality of our chosen experiences.
So we each have to choose a pace and a variety of activities—both for pay and for pleasure—that we want to live in.
There is no point running ragged to get somewhere we don’t want to go.
Need more time in the day? Then it’s time to make it. And then use that time however you want. It doesn’t need to be justified to anyone but ourselves.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Caroline Beaton