I have noticed lately that being busy seems to have become a status symbol. It’s almost a competition to see who has the most hectic life. I have found myself replying ‘I’m so busy!’ whenever someone asks me how I have been. This statement is often accompanied by a sigh. It’s almost the default response now and many of my friends do it too. This is not the way I want to live my life. I don’t want to race through things and check them off on my list. I want to experience, appreciate and enjoy.
Have you found yourself madly rushing from one event to the next? Do you wish that just this once you could have a free day on the weekend to do nothing? Are you always agreeing to do things even though you know you really don’t have the time?
There are a couple of thing you can do to start to slow things down. The first is to actually stop doing so many things. Sound impossible? Bear with me here. The second is to find enjoyment in each thing we do. Yes, even the boring mundane things.
Slow down step #1: Do less.
In order to slow down it really is necessary to stop doing so many things. Achieving this goal will require you to begin to say no to requests. Whilst that might seem difficult to do it will eventually become necessary. If you are rushed, stressed and overscheduled, nothing good is going to come of it. Each person needs to determine their own tipping point and, preferably before they reach it, start to reduce the number of events they agree to attend. Everyone will have a different limit and that’s ok. It’s knowing our own limit that is important.
A friend of mine is a real extrovert and enjoys nothing more than going out to events and functions and talking to as many people as possible. Another friend is much more of an introvert. She will attend the functions she is required to attend and have a quiet conversation with one or two people while she is there. The first friend actively seeks out social events to attend, the second does not. This is perfectly fine. Find your own acceptable amount and stop doing the rest.
In order to truly slow down it might also be necessary to reduce the number of things you agree to do for other people. Whilst it is nice to help out, sometimes we can find ourselves doing this too much. If you are always the one helping others and are at risk of burning yourself out in the process, then in the end you will really not be helping anyone at all.
If you are not sure about all of this then a good place to start is to complete a time audit. I have a handy workbook here to assist you. Use it to find out where you are currently spending your time. If you don’t like the way things are looking after having completed that, then here is your opportunity to change things.
There is a little trick I learned years ago from Dave Ramsay. He advocates spending your money on paper in advance so you can determine whether you actually have enough to do all of the things you need and want to do with it. If not, then you can adjust your plan before you even spend a cent. This is a much better system than to spend first and regret later.
I like to do exactly the same thing with my time. If I plan out in advance what I am going to spend it on and when, then I can adjust my schedule if it becomes apparent that there will not be enough time to do all of the things I thought I could do. It’s no good getting to the end of the day and discovering I haven’t had time to do the one important thing I should have done. My advance plan prevents problems like that. I have also included an advance planning sheet in the workbook.
Once you have competed your time audit and discovered the areas where problems occur you are at a much better point to do something about it. The first thing you need to do is decide upon your priorities and work out how you are going to do those things. Anything else can be done after the important things have been completed. I have developed The Lifewrangling Planner to assist you to put all of these ideas into practice.
Slow down step #2: Think differently.
This step is about changing your mindset. You can think about something as a chore that needs to be completed or you can be fully present in the moment and enjoy the process.Stop and smell the roses. Click To Tweet
Yes, this is still a work in progress for me too. Who wants to stop and smell the roses when they are in the middle of removing mould from the bathroom ceiling? Well, if we think of that task as a chore it will take us longer to begin it, we will hate every moment we are doing it and we will find it difficult to be proud of our achievements when we have completed it. Changing the way you think about it helps you to get it done quicker and without resentment.
Years ago my husband and I purchased a train ticket through Italy and spent two amazing weeks enjoying the sights and sounds of another culture. We decided that we were just going to go with the flow and not plan out too much of the trip. We were so pleased we did that. When we met people who told us about an amazing little hostel in Florence or a wonderful restaurant in Venice we were able to make the time to investigate.
In one of these places we met a girl who was doing a similar trip. We told her about a great little town we had stayed in and suggested she check it out. Unfortunately for her, all of her accommodation was pre booked and she was committed to being in certain places at certain times for her entire vacation. She was unable to make a spur of the moment decision to visit a cute little town or stay on somewhere for a couple of extra days because she had met some great people. She was not able to stop and smell the roses. She was on a race to the next place.
You don’t want to find yourself constantly on a race to the next event. If this means removing things from your schedule, then that is exactly what you need to do. It’s time to slow down and start making the physical and mental space to enjoy your life.
So if you want to stop telling yourself and others that you are ‘So busy’, you need to take action today to make a change. Cancel some of those events you really didn’t want to go to in the first place. Say no to someone’s request if it does not fit in with you and your family’s schedule. Take the time to be mentally present at each moment, not thinking about the next thing you need to do or the next place you need to be.
Put these practices in place today, stop telling yourself and others you are ‘so busy’ and focus on enjoying the journey.