Busy is a four letter word

Photo credit: http://www.doctormomx4.com/?p=564

I don’t know when it became a habit…but for as long as I can remember (and definitely at least since I’ve been a mom) when people ask how I am my response is often “Good. Busy but good.” And I feel like these days it’s EVERYONE’s response. Don’t get me wrong, I know you’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy. But maybe that’s not such a good thing.

When did busy become a status symbol?

Busy has become a status symbol. “Busy” is code for “important”. But personally I don’t think it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Being busy means you aren’t present in the moment. You focus on all that lies ahead of you; the emails in your inbox, your never-ending to do list, the laundry that needs to get done; the dishwasher that needs emptying; the toys that need sorting….

Being busy, as a woman and Mom, I tend to put everyone else first. So instead of following through with my personal training appointment I cancel because we need groceries; instead of going to a yoga class, I end up cleaning the kitchen; instead of going for a run I end up catching up on my office paperwork (yes, as physicians we have a TON of paperwork).

When I’m busy, I tend to get easily overwhelmed. All tasks seem important and I can get so caught up in thinking about how much I need to do that I actually get nothing done. Can anyone else relate to that?

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle, which basically states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your time, is something that really resonates with me. When I am really focused, no matter how busy I am, I get stuff done. Why? Because I can actually just use a small amount of time in my busy day to get down to business and get ‘er done. Although often used as a business tool, I think it is a great strategy for every day life. If you can find out what actions you need to take and what habits you need to build for that 20% of time, you’ll be able to be productive but still have time for yourself, for your family, for what moves you.

Know what else I hate about being busy? I tend to ignore the things that are important to me in favour for the things that society tells us are important. Instead of spending quality time reading with my kids I focus on tackling my to do list; instead of getting out for a long run I decide instead it’s finally time to sort through the recycling in the basement.

So how do we overcome the cult of busy?

How do we stop the habit of being busy?

How do we slow down?

Get your MEDITATION on

This is something that I’m working on daily. I’m **trying** to build meditation into my daily routine. I honestly believe if we want to slow down and appreciate the small things it starts with meditation. Slowing down your mind, and learning to take control of your thoughts instead of letting them control you.

Get comfortable saying NO

If you’re anything like me, you’re a people pleaser. And I honestly do get a lot of joy and satisfaction from helping other people whether it’s saying yes to covering a colleague’s call shift at the hospital, saying yes to a leadership position at work, saying yes to every invitation for drinks, dinner, etc.

My lovely therapist, who I have not spent nearly enough time with lately, who helps me with MANY things in life taught me a really good and simple tool to get better with this.

Everytime someone asks you to do something, pause, take a breath and ask yourself ‘How will this benefit me and my family?’. If the answer is obvious, than maybe yes is the right answer for you. If it’s not that clear…maybe it’s time to practice saying NO!

stop with the OVER-SCHEDULING

How many of you are guilty of this? Signing your kids up for swimming and soccer and art class and piano lesson and gymanstics and not leaving a minute for them (or you) to just be.

How about we all just slow down a bit? Maybe just start with the swimming lessons this fall. Then do skating this winter. And instead of filling your weekends with classes and play-dates and to-do lists, just see where they take you.

leave the SCREENS behind

This is something we are definitely working on in our family. And don’t get me wrong…our kids watch TV, they’re allowed to use tablets when we travel, and hubbie and I obviously use our phones and laptops for work.

But do we REALLY need our phones with us all the time? I’m a big social media user but am trying to get better at having times where I just leave my phone and just BE, with my kids, with my husband, with myself.

I’m not perfect, and I don’t have the solution to this but a few ideas that I’ve come across include not using phones during mealtimes (this seems being obvious to me..), having regular phone free time, no phones in bedrooms, phone free vacations (camping!!!) etc.

Some of these may be unrealistic for you (as a physicians who do call we need our phones in our rooms at night) but maybe sit down and set some priorities to give your self some time off the grid.

get OUTSIDE

As I finish up this blog post, I’m sitting in a cottage on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island. The past two evenings after dinner we’ve hopped onto our bikes and peddled just a few minutes down the road to enjoy ending our days on the beach, complete with the most beautiful sunsets you can imagine. When we eventually stumble back to the cottage wet, sand covered and ready for bath time everyone is exhausted, but in the best way possible.

When we spend time outside it’s like we are doing what our bodies were built to do. Run. Splash. Move. Too often we spend most of our days inside and our bodies (and minds) take a hit.

For me the more time I spend outside the clearer my head feels. It’s easier to remember what my priorities are and where I need to focus my time. Then when Monday hits and we’re back at whatever it is we spend our weeks doing, the idea is we can still reach back to the state we were in and remind ourselves what’s important so we can say YES when it’s right and NO when we need to.

Where does this leave us?

So I don’t know about you, but whenever I read a blog post, watch a webinar, attend a lecture I’m always looking for the tangible, take home points.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I do a LOT of scrolling. I like the executive summary over the full version. So if you’re like me and you actually have only skimmed this post and are scrolling down to find the bottom line and grasp some tangible take home points this is the sweet spot for you.

HOMEWORK

Here’s what I challenge us (yes us, I’m guilty of using the b-word more often than I’d like to admit). Let’s UN-BUSY ourselves. So where do we start?

Daily Meditation.

Let’s do it ladies (and gents). If I can commit to this ANYONE can. Honestly my mind moves at one trillion thoughts a second. so how can we do this? Let’s start with an app and a guided meditation – there’s no shame in that. And work our way up to that zen state we all aspire to achieve…. You can choose whatever one you want..I’m vibeing on the Breath app (which I think has changed names) as well as Buddify and Headspace.

Say NO

Do it now. Like right now, out loud. Who cares if you’re reading this in a coffee shop, on the couch next to your partner, at work. Just say no. Why? It feels good. And it also takes practice.

PLAN your week…and make sure you schedule in your personal time

This may seem mundane..but planning makes a huge difference. Sit down, and schedule out your time. The most important thing you can do is schedule in time for yourself…and stick to it. And like my girl crush/personal development idol Rachel Hollis says, like you wouldn’t break a date with your dentist, your boss….you can’t break a date with yourself. So go ahead, sit down on Sunday night and plan out your week and schedule in your ‘you’ time every.single.day. Even if all you can fit in is 20 minutes of running or a 10 minute meditation write.it.down.

say NO to TV

OK…so I am a huge #bachechelornation fan but I’m going out on a limb and saying this. If you weeks are as crazy as mine…maybe saving your PVR’d sessions of Bachelor in Paradise is best left for some weekend indulgence and your week nights can be better spent. I know. I KNOW. But seriously folks, if we want to make headway we need to made sacrifices.

So put your phone down when you come home. Put the kids to bed. Take your fur baby for a walk. Clean the kitchen. Get your ‘to do list’ tackled. Then read a book. Meditate. Take a bath. Drink some tea. Go to bed.

If you’re a social media addict…set a timer on your device (they’re literally already on your device..you just need to set them up). Once the time is up. DING DONG you’re done.

Use social media for work? For your side gig? Use one of the MANY planning apps available so you’re not frantically posting (ahem…) minutes before your shut your eyes for the night.

get outside

Just do it. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink and head to the park after dinner. Have an impromptu picnic dinner at the beach one night this week. Spend Saturday morning exploring the woods instead of doing errands.

Honestly, it’s easy to find ways to spend time outside. It’s actually following through thats hard.

Who’s up for the challenge?

Let’s do it.

Let’s meditate daily.

Let’s say no.

Let’s play.

Let’s turn off the tv.

Let’s get outside.

Ready to make some positive change? I know I am….

xo

Sarah

One thought on “Busy is a four letter word”

  1. Great ideas Sarah. Great and timely article. Well written. I grow a veggie garden and farm beef to involve my family in outdoor activities.

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