Many of my clients feel much too busy. They are overworked, overwhelmed and over feeling this way. Some things are out of their hands, but there is usually quite a lot that is possible to change. Once we pinpoint what those things are and create an action plan, I can see their shoulders begin to relax and their brows unfurrow. These are some of the things I discuss with my clients who want to feel less busy:
1. Stop using the word busy. What we say to ourselves and to others has a significant impact on our perception of things. “Busy” unfortunately has become the new “fine” in conversations (e.g. “How are you?” “Busy!”). When I was pregnant with our first child, I knew I wanted our lives to slow down. I became committed to ridding “busy” from my casual vocabulary as much as possible. It still slips out from time to time, and I cringe when it happens. For the most part, we are as busy as we choose to be. Not only that, we are not even usually as busy as we claim to be! No doubt children, careers, homes, etc all create an exceptional amount of work. But all of those things are also such blessings. We can choose to see them as aggravations that take up our days, or we can realize that these are our choices and how we perceive them has a tremendous impact on our mental and emotional health.
2. Avoid multi-tasking. I do violate this sometimes, and whenever I do, I always find I’m left with an icky feeling. Neither thing is done well, and it takes me longer to go back and correct my mistakes. Single-tasking is becoming more popular for good reason.
3. Set aside the iphone/ipad/laptop/TV. If we actually clocked our time wasted on these devices, it probably adds up to a whole lot more than we care to admit. Think of how much more happily (and peacefully) we could spend that time—reading, relaxing, visiting with a friend, going on a walk, taking a long bath, etc. My trick for putting down my phone: I ask myself “will I be glad how I spent this moment of free time?” Of course the answer is always “no,” and I usually find a better alternative pretty quickly.
4. Choose to do less. There are some things in life we have to do. Everything else is a choice. Figure out what you can stop doing, and then stop. Maybe not forever, but at least for now. Buy a Halloween costume instead of sewing it yourself. Quit being the family videographer and let someone else take a turn. Drop out of the playgroup that isn’t meaningful. Pass on the big project at work and go home earlier to the family. Forget yoga, sleep in and take a walk with your kids instead. Pick up takeout instead of cooking for that dinner party. Cancel the trip to visit those relatives who are just the pits. And for pity’s sake, give up the scrap-booking if it doesn’t bring you joy!
5. Incorporate quiet, mindful activities when you can. From small moments in the car to larger chunks of time spent meditating, walking, swimming, painting, kayaking or whatever activity puts you in state of flow. It is important to bring quiet to our days, especially when young ones are about. These peaceful periods re-energize us in extremely valuable ways.
6. Get help if you can. If you are able to, consider hiring help—with the lawn, the house, childcare, or whatever it might be for you. If we are losing our minds trying to do it all ourselves, what is the point? Sometimes our time is far more valuable than money. Consider it an investment in your mental health.