It’s time to stop the glorification of busy! I’ve realised recently how much of an aversion I have to the word “busy”. When I think of busy I see anxiety, overwhelm, chaos, exhaustion and burnout. It also feels unsustainable. Not a pretty picture. So why is “Soooo busy” too often the standard answer to “How are you?”. It’s as if our lives aren’t valid and our businesses can’t possibly succeed unless we are in a constant state of rushing all-guns-blazing towards the future.

Practical tips to stop the glorification of busy

Be present

Being present in the current moment is a way to stop feeling like time is whooshing by and leaving us overwhelmed by what we’ve failed to achieve on our to do list that day. Focus on one thing at a time, and lean in to that task fully – yes, that means turning off your phone notifications. On days when I’m particularly struggling to focus, I also sign out of Instagram.

We feel busy when we feel like we’re doing everything but achieving nothing. A tried and tested method to reduce overwhelm thus increase productivity is to choose just 3 things from your to do list each day. Any more than that leads to frustration and hopelessness when you don’t achieve it. I’m a former over-committer – it sounds totally counterintuitive but the fewer items I add to my to do list, the more I get done these days. Small steps every day rather than 50 steps on Monday followed by an exhausted struggle through the rest of the week! Instead of your usual worry about what you’ve still got to do, finish each day with a “ta-da” list (described in more detail here, advocating the use of sticker embellishments!) to reassure your brain of how much you’ve achieved.

Intentional living

The other way to stop the chaos of busy-ness is to embrace intentional living. It might sound a bit woo, but all it means is choosing to plan your day/week/month/life according to how you want your life to look, based on your goals and values. I spend time considering what I want my daily life to look like, and (where possible!) say no to anything that isn’t that. That frees up my time to say yes to things that contribute to the life I want to lead.

Know your priorities

I’m also keenly aware of my priorities. Instead of spending each day hoping I’ll have time to go to the beach later, I build that into my calendar as a non-negotiable event. My calendar is my best tool in avoiding being busy. I can see at a glance what my week is looking like – colour coding even helps me check the balance I’ve created – and I can adjust accordingly. Being honest about how long each task will take is key to this tactic.

So, if we’re rejecting “busy”, what’s the alternative?

To stop the glorification of busy, we need to stop using “busy” as our go-to word when someone asks how you’re doing. I like to say “full” rather than busy. A full week, of course, looks different to everyone – an introvert and an extrovert for example will have very different definitions of an acceptable amount of social interactions. As always, power stems from knowledge. The better we know ourselves and our wants, needs, energy lifters and energy stealers, the easier it becomes to start heading in the direction of those dreams you’ve got (read more about that here).

Blog post banner Question for a quiet moment

Questions for a quiet moment

  • What are your personal thoughts on the word “busy”?
  • How does being busy make you feel?
  • How would life be different if you weren’t so busy?

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