We all lead hectic lives. There’s so much to be done between meetings, appointments, doing actual work, not to mention all the life stuff like 45 walks a day with your dog, dropping your kids off everywhere, spending quality time with your partner or friends. It just doesn’t seem like there’s enough time in each week, so how do you choose what gets done?
Think about your own schedule, perhaps even just for this week. You probably are really busy. Maybe your work calendar is packed with meetings. So you can’t get to a few things on your to-do list because you’re super busy. And if you have a lot going on at work, it’s probably easiest to pick up dinner on the way home instead of cooking. And forget about meeting friends out for a drink or date night, this week has been exhausting. There’s a lot going on and things are just busy.
But is the problem really that you’re too busy? The next time you start to answer with “I’m really busy” or “Let me check my calendar, things are so busy right now” try saying “It’s not a priority”. It sounds a bit silly when you think of it like “I’m not going to run to the store for two apples because it’s not a priority.” But it feels a lot different to say “I’m not going to grab coffee with you because it’s not a priority” or “I’m not going to make that doctor’s appointment because it’s not a priority”.
Your life will look a lot different when you stop saying you’re busy and own up to the fact that maybe you just don’t have priorities. Or worse that you have the wrong priorities.
I realized last year that I was selfishly using ‘busy’ as an excuse to prioritize only the things I really wanted to do. It’s an easy way to justify doing the things I want to do or not doing the things I don’t want to do. I know when I say that I really just don’t have time to cook tonight, what I’m really saying is that having a balanced diet is not a priority to me. And that doesn’t feel good.
When it comes to work, I noticed that I wasn’t able to get through as many things each week as I wanted to. That’s when I started doing Friday Prizeday which kind of opened my eyes to the idea that maybe the things on my to-do list shouldn’t be there. What was really a priority? And further, were the things on my list actually making my life better?
It’s hard to take the first step and start cutting some of the ‘busy’ out of your life when we treat it like a currency. But I started thinking about what my priorities should really be. In my career I felt like I had to cut out all the things that were only bringing me stress and anxiety and didn’t add anything of meaning to my role or career. It’s easy to get too overwhelmed with tasks and to-dos that you can lose sight of what your goals are.
In my personal life, I wanted to take more control and stop letting my work lead my personal choices. One of my priorities is to spend more time with friends. I’m a very introverted person meaning that I feel most recharged after spending time alone. But I think sometimes I get so comfortable in my independence that I don’t realize that I may be feeling some loneliness. So I decided that anytime my friends invite me to dinner or brunch or to do anything I make it happen because it’s a priority. And I’ve been feeling much more of a balance in my life since trying to make more of an effort to get together with friends.
Busyness does not make our lives meaningful. Losing the word ‘busy’ from your vocabulary will completely change how you see and do things. Give it a try this week and see if you notice a difference in how much more meaningful what you actually get done is.
photo by Katie Prestemon