How To Stop Being So Busy
These days, being busy is often used a status symbol. I have heard people talking about how busy they are, almost like it’s a competition to see who is the busiest of all. It’s like a badge of honour worn proudly by people who have been so busy they had to work through their holiday or only get four hours sleep each night because of all the things they’ve had to do. Dare I say that some people claim to be so busy because it highlights how important they must be.
Being busy is also frequently used as an excuse for not getting something done or not taking part in a certain activity. Maybe you’ve used the “I’m too busy” excuse yourself. I know that I can hold my hands up and say I’ve done it in the past.
Whether you are actually busy or not, in the long term being busy all the time is not conducive for wellbeing. It can be become and addiction or at the very least a cycle that we get caught up in. Being busy can lead to burnout and negatively impact on your health. So, whether you are genuinely busy or just using it as an excuse, here are some top tips to help you stop being so busy.
- Don’t buy into busy culture. I feel that we’re heading in the direction of needing to be busy all the time because everybody else is and we’ll be seen as lazy if we’re not doing something at all times. This doesn’t need to be the case, though. You don’t need to be busy to be successful, popular, or to fit in with everyone else. The truth is that other people are probably not as busy as they make out they are, and it’s not a culture that you need to be part of. So, if you’re having some time off or a break and someone asks what you have planned, if the answer is nothing then don’t be afraid to say so. Be honest and say you’re looking forward to doing nothing, which leads me to my next point.
- Know that doing nothing is ok. If you want to have a lazy day at home, go for it. You don’t need to be superhuman and have a to do list in operation at all times. In fact, I wholly encourage you to make time in your schedule to do nothing and do it with conviction. If you’re at home for the day, have an afternoon nap if you want to, or sit down and watch tv for a bit. It is ok to do that. You’ll probably thank yourself in the long run as taking regular time out to do nothing helps you to recharge and you will then be better placed to complete the tasks that need doing when the time comes.
- Think about why you need to be busy all the time. If you are genuinely busy or go out of your way to make sure are doing things all the time, consider why that is. It could be due to pressure you feel from your boss, work colleagues, partner or family. It could be that you keep busy so that you don’t have to face a particular issue. Whatever the reason may be, reflect on why you are or need to be busy. This will help you to understand your situation and consider any changes that need to be made or support you may require. Two key points to think about are what is being fulfilled in your life by being busy and also what may be missing. Both can serve as fuel for your busyness.
- Get rid of your to do list, or at the very least rethink it. If you have a written to do list, have a look at it. If the list is in your head, write it down on a piece of paper and again have a look at it. Getting it down on paper frees your mind from the confusion of thinking about all of the things that you think you need to do. Once you’ve written the list, consider what you really need to do and what you don’t need to do. If there is anything on the list that you don’t need to do, cross it off. Why put pressure on yourself to do something that doesn’t actually need doing? Now you have your written list in front of you, consider whether you need to do any of those things today. If you don’t, then let it wait until another time. Having a to do list doesn’t mean you have to plough your way through it immediately. Some things can wait. You don’t need to put pressure on yourself.
- Have boundaries. If you work from 9 to 5 but find that you’re still in the office at 6:00pm finishing off tasks, take stock of what you are doing and make a commitment to finish work on time. It may only seem like an extra hour, but all of those hours add up to a lot of time that you’re not being paid for. You could be doing something for yourself with that time. The same applies if you work through your lunch break. There may be pressure to do that due to your workload, but you are entitled to have a break and by taking that time out you’ll probably be more productive when you get going again afterwards. Boundaries can apply to your home life too. You may feel pressure to be everything to everyone, with so many tasks needing to be done. However, you don’t have to shoulder the responsibility of doing everything. If you have a partner or children, delegate tasks to them. They live in the same space as you, so it’s only fair that they should contribute. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down and ask for help.