When I ask the question “How are you?”, 9 times out of 10, it comes with a response of “busy.” But what does that even mean?
When someone says they’re busy, it’s almost as if it were a default response. Or maybe they wear it as a badge of honor, or a bragging right…thinking that it makes them look successful, or maybe they secretly want a little sympathy (or pity).
But are they really all that busy in a positive way? Or is it a matter of lack of productivity/prioritizing and poor schedule management? Or even the basic incapability of saying no?
I’m not going to lie, I used to be that person that was “so busy” all the time and say the same thing. But I’ve really tried to make an effort to not let that word pass my lips or be a reoccurring theme in my life.
So if you feel like your schedule is chaotic and out of control, you’re in the right place reading this and this post can help you, if you let it.
I have three easy to apply steps that can help your day to day life be more manageable and less like a chicken running around with it’s head chopped off, kind of life. (sorry to be graphic, but that’s totally how it can feel sometimes!)
Let’s first talk about the usually uncomfortable, but necessary step to handling your busy schedule. It comes down to one word; saying “no.”
- Learning to say no.
“When you are saying yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself” – Paulo Coelho
I know that because we live in the “yes” society, there’s a lot of unnecessary “busyness” added to our daily lives.
Would you like to come over for a play date? Sure. I’m having a (insert multilevel marketing company) party, can you come? Yes. Can you be on the PTA at school this year? Okay.
There are a million + 1 things you can add to your schedule. There’s opportunities to do something in every corner. But do you have to? No. You have every right to decline that invitation. You have the choice to say no. And it doesn’t make you selfish, or “too good” for someone, it just simply means that you’re controlling your schedule.
Saying no can really trip people up, because they struggle with the guilty feeling of needing to give an excuse for saying no. And that’s so far from the truth. I’m here to give you permission to just say “no.” And that’s it.
No is a full and complete sentence.
When you say no, it gives you power. You start to free up time.
And instead of your crazy, busy schedule depleting energy from you, your bucket will start to fill because now you’re using your time in ways that are fulfilling to you. Like finally picking up that book, or dusting off the treadmill, or spending that much needed alone time with your spouse. Or maybe you need a night or two to rest.
And girlfriend, you have every right to have that in your life.
When we forget about rest, usually more times than not, our body starts to shut down and starts to say No to us. And we all know what that means… you get sick, and then you have to catch up from those days that you missed. And it becomes a vicious cycle.
Your schedule doesn’t have to be jam packed to be fulfilling. Give yourself permission to say no. And feel good about it.
- Ask the important question, “Is it a priority?”
“It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs
Before you start saying no, you should ask yourself what your priorities are. What is most important to you? What comes first and foremost? Is it your children, your spouse, your career, travel, downtime? That’s for you to decide, and only you.
No one else gets that authority over your life, unless you’re in a partnership or relationship. Then, in my opinion, that should be a mutual decision for what you want your lives to look like, together.
And every season of life brings new priorities. Sometimes they shift, disappear and new ones arise, meeting you where you’re at in life. So ask yourself, what do you want your life to look like right now?
Write your priorities down. Stay in front of them. So when something comes up as an opportunity, and it doesn’t fit in line with your priorities, it makes it easier to say no.
And if you’re on the edge, unsure it it’s in alignment of your priorities, ask yourself “how could this benefit my #1 priority and how could it negatively impact my #1 priority?” Or ask if this next thing really needs you, or if the world would keep spinning if you said “No”. Or maybe ask for outside perspective from your partner or a close friend who understands your priorities.
Chalene Johnson was a huge inspiration for me learning this technique. In the season of life she’s been in, spending time with her kids and husband is a huge priority. So when she’s presented with opportunities (with many of them being very financially appealing) if they don’t align with her priorities, she turns them down. As tempting as those opportunities could be, she is living out her true priorities. Which fulfills her in the long run.
From experience of practicing the same thing, I can vouch that it does feel much more fulfilling. Last year, I was in the position of either working a lot more or choosing to spend more time with my family. And I had to make a decision to leave the team I was on, because the teams goal’s and my priorities were not in alignment with each other. I had power in that moment, and I haven’t regretted that decision one second.
Fine tune the list of what’s truly important to you, hold them next to the opportunities you’re faced with and ask yourself if this is something that would really enhance your life or hinder it, according to your current priorities.
- Schedule your priorities
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”. – Stephen Covey
If you’re a health or fitness coach, I’m sure you hear this all the time, “I don’t know when I could find the time to workout.” Or “I’m too busy to go grocery shopping and prep for healthy meals.”
Being “too busy” is a constant excuse for a lot of people for a lot of different things. I get it. But what we just learned is, that if it’s a priority to you, you need to make time for it. Your fulfillment depends on it.
The other stuff that seems to pile up on our schedules, should not be prioritized over our actual priorities.
When you have control and power over your calendar, you create the opportunities to allow that priority, be just that. A priority.
I always use the saying “if it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist”. And that’s because other things fill that time bracket, if I let it. But because I’m so focused on giving my priorities the time it deserves, I use my schedule to time block them into my day or week.
Just try not to over-schedule yourself with your priorities that you start to feel overwhelmed either. The point of keeping a calendar is to allow yourself to rest and re-energize. In fact, block that off into your calendar if you know that otherwise that time would get filled with just another something else to do.
But most of all, give yourself some slack, because you won’t be perfect at this (or anything in life, really). Try and apply the 80/20 rule on these steps and get better at it every day. Your mind, body and soul will appreciate it.
So what would it mean for you if you were not too busy? What would you do with your time? Apply these 3 steps to your life, and your ‘busyness’ will start to subside.
Love and less busyness,