We need to stop the glorification of busy. “Busy” is one of my least favourite words. It’s in the same pile as “should” and “hustle”. I try to use “full” rather than “busy”. To me busy implies a level of chaos and lack of intention. I prefer to say I’ve had a FULL week, generally. But honestly I try to avoid full days too – life happens in the white space around the calendar entries and the to do lists and the zoom calls!

Let’s stop the glorification of busy

Many of us have come out of lockdown feeling like we are ready to embrace a calmer, simpler life. I’ve felt the anxiety in my community slowly increase as obligations and expectations increase again. Before you get overwhelmed it’s helpful to remind yourself that you’re in charge. You can make choices that suit you. You are allowed to say no to things that don’t work for you – even if you’re not doing something else that day, you can still say no! Click here for a free download of tips on saying no in a kind and gentle way. You’re allowed to prioritise time to yourself, time to relax, time doing absolutely nothing.

So why do we let ourselves get so busy?

1. We struggle to say no because we identify as a kind person

It’s hard to say no when you’re a kind and helpful person and that feels like part of your personality. I get it – me too. You don’t want to let anyone down. But by saying yes to others constantly, you’re letting yourself down. Eventually your overwhelm and exhaustion will turn into burnout and then you will be forced to “let other people down”. Saying no is sometimes the kind thing to do – if you say no in a timely manner, people have time to find someone else to support them, and there’s nothing worse than saying yes and then having to say no at the last minute. We don’t get a certificate or a gold medal for how busy you’ve managed to make yourself, contrary to what society seems to imply!

2. We aren’t clear on our priorities

Being unclear on your priorities, or failing to plan by consulting your priorities is the most common way I see clients feeling overwhelmed. How can you know what to say no to if you’re unsure what you actually want to say yes to?! We end up saying yes to lots of things, making ourselves overwhelmingly busy in the process, in the hope that along the way some of these things will feel meaningful. This haphazard approach doesn’t work and just leads to us doing *all the things* and still feeling unfulfilled at the end of the day. The most direct route to stop the glorification of busy would be to STOP and work out what’s meaningful to YOU.

3. We think that at some point we will “complete” our to do lists (!)

I remember a few years ago when I was still in the cycle of being constantly busy having the realisation that I will never get to the bottom of my to do list. It sounds super obvious but society promotes the hustle mentality that if we work hard we will get to the end of our to do list and receive a metaphorical gold star. This keeps us constantly busy and striving for the bottom of our to do lists. How about instead we promote the culture of rest, of listening to our intuition, and of creating meaningful moments. Most of those things on your to do list can wait for you to spend time with your loved ones, to focus on the parts of your business that feel fulfilling, and to rest. Let’s stop the glorification of busy. How about instead of a focus on to do list, we instead prioritise meaning.

4. We love our work and forget that rest is also part of the work

If like me you love your work, it’s a great feeling. But loving your work is a huge risk factor for burnout, because it’s difficult to stop and switch off. We enjoy what we do so we do it constantly, to the detriment of the rest of the things and people we love. Something I repeat to myself often is that “rest is part of the work”. Without rest we won’t be able to support the business we love in a way that reflects our passion.

If you resonate with any of these, my 1-to-1 coaching programmes can help you get clear on your priorities so you can start to say no to other people’s expectations and obligations and start saying YES to things that feel meaningful to YOU!

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