It’s time to talk about being too busy

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Yes, I know. You’re rushing to get to the next thing, and you don’t have time to read one of my blog posts (which, to be honest, are a bit lengthy). I get it. I don’t have time to write such long ones – this week, anyway. So I’m going to try and be brief for once. But it needs to be said – there is too much busyness around.

Being overly busy is a topic that comes and goes in waves, and, for some reason, now the tidal wave has hit again. It’s not just me – I keep talking to friends, and reading complaints from others that they are feeling way too rushed. Many of us are tired of it. And we’re talking about it. I know I’m reading and thinking about it, and feeling annoyed about it. But am I doing anything about it? Well ….

Enough! I’m quickly and very briefly writing down a few reminders which might help with managing those overly busy times.  There is nothing really new here.

I’m re-stating things you’ve probably heard before. But if you’re like me, you need reminders. And here is mine (and they are as much a reminder for me as for you. But hopefully you’ll find them useful too! And yes, I jump between first person and second person – sorry about that!).

 

Some steps to getting through super rushed times

Stop. Relax. Then think. 

Yes, it can seem frantic, but sometimes that’s your attitude. Or, maybe it’s mine. Whatever. Sometimes we can get used to rushing and it starts to feel normal – but not comfortable.

Pausing – for a brief time – can help put things back in perspective. So – deep breaths. In and out. Go for a walk. Do some star jumps. Hug your kids, or your partner, or the dog. Whatever works – step out of that space.

Helps a bit, doesn’t it? Now we’re in a better frame of mind think through what needs to be done in a calmer way.

 

Time to think – what do I really have to do?

We sometimes have days, weeks, or longer where we are flat chat. But, for me, if I am working to a plan, that’s ok (for a while). It only works, however, if I have a plan.

And to have a plan, I need to make time to plan. Which seems contrary to being busy, but as we all know, things go wrong when you don’t know where you’re headed. So, my plan is pretty simple and only has two parts (because – rushed):

  • I need to identify what I think needs to be done – how well, and by when.
  • I need to think through the best sequencing, what should be done first, and what might be able to give if things don’t run smoothly. What’s the fall back plan?

Have a look at your plan (or schedule, or list, or mental dot point – although too much in your mind can be challenging). It’s then worth thinking

  • Is it achievable?
  • Do you have time to stop (albeit briefly) during the day or in the evening (or in the morning, maybe? Sometime, anyway)?
  • Are you, in general, getting some level of enjoyment or satisfaction – in the short, or maybe long term?

Yes – well, good. Keep going. If not – review your priorities.

 

Know my priorities

Sometimes we can do all the things. Sometimes we enjoy doing all the things. But sometimes we can’t – we can’t keep up, or it’s stressful to do so. In those cases, we do need to stop and think. What am I trying to do? What are my priorities?

This is such a big topic on its own that I’m not even going to attempt it here. Priorities for your life can take a while to dig through sometimes, and you can end up spiralling into ever tighter self examination. Which is fine (more than fine – probably very important, as long as you don’t get too tangled in your self examination).  However, you need to allocate time for this. At the moment, we’re dealing with being too busy.

So – for the moment, it’s enough to think about what we are trying to do here and now. And remember that in a lot of ways I have more choices that I realise (I think we all do, if we are honest with ourselves).

Sometimes the following questions can help:

  • What am I trying to achieve – and why?
  • Are the tasks on my list, the activities I am doing, the thoughts I have, bringing me closer to where I am trying to go, or not?
  • What would happen if I DIDN’T do one or more of them?

I am trying to use these questions as a test. It’s a means of determining where I put my focus, where I might need to renegotiate work, or home responsibilities, for a while.

These questions can be equally useful when tempted to add to the list – maybe through the excitement (‘think of the possibilities’) or guilt (‘I can’t let them down again’), or whatever drives you. What are you really aiming for?
But – from experience, don’t over think it. These priorities are priorities for the busy times, rather than ‘forever’ priorities – remember?

Simplify

  • Are there ways of streamlining what I do?
  • Are there ways of removing choice?

(yes – we have the choice of what to do – but if we can cut out some of the choices of ‘how to’, we can often be more efficient.)

 

This is not my strength, to be honest. And I find I can only streamline slowly. I need to introduce a new approach to one thing, get into a habit, then start on the next. It is very slow, and sometimes frustrating.  But it seems to be the only way to make changes stick.

So I am trying to get used to making changes, one by one. Don’t get caught, in a super busy time, having to adjust to different approaches as well. It will just become more complicated. Keep things simple (even if, ultimately, they could become more efficient later).

 

Self acceptance

Yes, something will go wrong, probably. But – in most cases – it can be redeemed. And remember –

  • Where possible, you’ve thought of some contingencies and tested whether they worked or not (that’s important). You can now refine or maintain, as relevant.
  • In other cases, you haven’t thought of what could go wrong – but now you’ve identified something else. Well done – you’re a discoverer! Plus, you will be better prepared for the next time.

Either way, you’ve done the best you can in the circumstances. And dwelling on it won’t help. So, as best you can, try to let it go, and give yourself an acknowledgement for doing what you have done. Well done!
If you can, factor in a brief period for relaxing, too (yes, that might be listening to something in the car when you rush from one activity to another, or it might be eating your lunch outdoors instead of at your desk). Whatever it is – and it might be brief, try to relish it. It might be enough to recharge you through this period of time.

 

Final thoughts

These are thoughts to get through a super busy time.

But, long term, I don’t think it’s possible to be too busy for too long, without things eventually falling apart. Maybe with only slight damage, maybe with longer term impacts.

People are not machines. We need time to meander (literally, and mentally), to explore approach (and maybe be ‘inefficient’ in the process, to discover and enjoy what we do).

We need to determine what we are really striving towards – what makes us feel alive, what makes us connected to others, to our environment, and to ourselves, how we can look outwards towards others and make a contribution to a more positive world (yes, sounds gushy, but it is important), and what makes us whole.

And it all comes back to time. Which I’ve flagged with the illustration above (sometime to reflect on). Because it, like priorities, is a topic in its own right – and right now, I don’t have time to get into it (and, probably, neither do you! 🙂 )

Back to the list!

 

 

How do you manage super busy times? Do you have any tips to share? 

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20 thoughts on “It’s time to talk about being too busy

  1. Oh god yes, busy busy! This past week all the ‘busy’ really hit me and I’ve made some drastic changes…including quitting two jobs! I plan to spend the next five months of my long service leave from my regular job doing my best to not be busy and just be present x

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  2. So agree that we need time to meander. I get really annoyed when schools keep flinging things at kids which means they get cramped for time and then we get cramped for time – and I wonder if it’s all necessary. And I have very little control over that! I can manage to plan my own time – work out what to cull and prioritise – but it’s the stuff I can’t control that spins me out.

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    1. I feel like their time is filling up so quickly – I’m not really sure of the reasons for it (is it parental expectations, or keeping up with other schools, or a state curriculum thing?) but it definitely puts a lot of pressure on everyone. I often wonder if the benefits do outweigh the costs – I’m not really sure.

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      1. It’s really tricky, isn’t it? It’s so exciting and encouraging when your kids want yo take up opportunities and ‘have a go’ but it’s difficult to balance with schoolwork – and I do think there is too much in the curriculum. I look at my two who have done/doing year 12 and there is more content than can possibly be tested. Why not do less and give time for proper learning and reflection?

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  3. Yes, it’s the modern conundrum. My busyness goes in peaks and troughs depending on how mindful I am being about making time not to be busy. It’s so easy to get caught up in doing everything, over scheduling ourselves and our kids. This weekend is so jam packed and I know I will be tired on Monday, but the previous two weekends have been lovely and quiet with lots of room for pottering around, cooking and fun stuff. Swings and roundabouts is the best I can hope for, and I’m happy with that.

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    1. Swings and roundabouts is probably manageable, I agree. I see a breathing space in about three weeks (at least, during week days which are packed from start to finish – 12 hour days last week and the next two weeks), and I’m really looking forward to it x

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  4. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to dissapoint others when you say no to something (event, catch up, visit or activity) if it means less rushing about and more relaxed times – the to and fro and before and after shouldn’t take away from the actual event or thing, and if it does – ditch it!

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    1. I know that in theory – and I am told that a lot, but when it happens, often the outcome isn’t ideal (I need to get a bit thicker skinned about dealing with it, I think).

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    1. But then the challenge with delegating is trusting in the other person / people (or remembering to check in) – and that’s hard too. It’s a tricky one.

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    1. I tend to write them as if they are long, time consuming things, but really, in most cases, they are just reminders to stop and think (five star jumps can be enough to shake your thinking, for instance, and a quick brain dump can be the basis of the list and priorities). I reckon you probably do these already … I know I forget one or more, so thought I’d list them as a reminder 🙂

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      1. Yes I do do some of them Helen, but not all that intentionally. Sometimes it’s good to slow down and think why we do these things. I’m really looking forward to catching up with you at ProBlogger! I suspect we will have a lot in common.

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