I am so busy right now. I’ve actually been so busy that I am only now getting around to finishing off this article I started writing a month ago. I’m the busiest. I bet you’re pretty busy too. How many times in the last month have you complained about how full your schedule is?
I was listening to an episode of the Hidden Brain podcast recently and they were interviewing Neeru Paharia, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, about how we use money to express our values. Paharia talked about how people are starting to change the way we communicate status. It’s no longer about the fancy car we drive or the brands of clothes we wear but rather how busy we are, because if we’re busy, then we must be important and in demand. When I heard this, I got a bit of a sick guilty feeling in my gut because while I don’t care about the fancy car or wearing designer labels, I am constantly lamenting to my friends and family about how busy I am. If I’m honest, a part of me does feel rather self-important when I describe my hectic schedule but at the same time, I’m massively stressed and overworked and have little time in my life to actually do the things I want to do. Sound familiar?
I am here to declare that the glorification of busy must end. Yes, we do have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce but most of us don’t have a team of highly qualified people at our disposal dedicated to those same hours. We have to stop measuring our value by how much we fit into a day, take a breath and make time for the people and things we love.
“But I love my job,” says the little voice in the back of your mind. I know that little voice well. She whispers, “You’re lucky you have a job you enjoy,” and poses questions like, “If you’re not working yourself to the bone are you really fulfilling your true potential?” But how’s that working out for you?
Recently I’ve been calling myself out. I work in the sustainability space but don’t afford those same values to the way I live my life and that’s, quite frankly, a bit ridiculous. Slow fashion, slow food but a hectic manic lifestyle? One of these things is not like the others. I’ve decided it’s time to take accountability for how I live my life. I’ve not been entirely successful in changing my ways but it’s a process. Below are a few ideas you can implement to help fight against busy.
Give yourself permission to not be on call 24/7.
I think if I went through my inbox right now I would find hundreds of emails that start with “Sorry for the delayed reply…” Enough. Can we all please stop it? Unless it’s an absolute emergency and legs and arms are falling off can we please give ourselves permission not to respond the instant we receive an email?
Related Post: How to Make More Time to Live Sustainably
Stop talking about how busy you are.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Once you start consciously monitoring how much you do it you’ll be able to make an effort to stop “busy and important” in its tracks. When your friends ask how you are, tell them the truth but don’t blame busy.
Work smarter not harder.
This is my new mantra after years of doing the exact opposite. I can get lost in the details and spend hours doing a task that could have been done just as well in half the time with half the effort. Someone who is hardworking is often viewed in a positive light, at least in the culture I live in. But if we are just working hard for the sake of appearances rather than because it is actually necessary, is that really all that great?
Make time for the people and things you love.
Schedule it into your calendar if you think it will help. I have a friend that spends two hours in the garden most days after work. She does this without a hint of guilt. She’s my hero.
Related Post: Sustainable Gardening: Keeping a Gardening Journal
Make a conscious effort to say no.
You do not have to do all of the things. We’re living in a time when events, knowledge, friends, family and opportunities are more accessible than ever before but in a world full of FOMO, learn to be OK with missing out. You don’t have to be everything for everyone. It’s an exhausting, unsustainable way to live.
Check your ego and get some perspective.
Will everything fall apart if you don’t do that one thing this very moment? Are you that important? I have no doubt you’re pretty wonderful but the world is probably going to keep turning whether you do it or not. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed I look to the stars and realise how insignificant I am. It’s kind of a beautiful release.
What are your techniques to stop “busy” taking over your life? How do you implement slow living practices into your life? Please share in the comments below.