How Did I Get So Busy?

I noticed a reoccurring theme playing out during my weekends. I was always trying to catch up. And even at the end of the weekend, my “To Do” list never seemed shorter.

So this weekend I stopped and read “How Did I Get So Busy?” by Valorie Burton. It’s a 28-day program that promised to help me “rediscover my true priorities, shift out of overdrive and reclaim my life and schedule.”

Of course, I read the book in one weekend instead of during 28 days. And I read a large chunk of it while riding a stationary bicycle so clearly I needed the advice contained in the book.

As the author notes, “The problem with being too busy is that you lose your sense of self. In the race to get it all done, you give up the experience of being fully engaged in anything.”

Fortunately, I am not that far gone. I still enjoy meaningful conversations over a cup of coffee or cooking a meal from scratch for my book club. But I also knew there were areas of my life where I was not being intentional with my actions.

And so I’m now focused on being productive by accomplishing that which matters most. And I’m not going to wear busyness as a badge of honor.

I am going to exercise regularly, as I’ve already shared. In fact, I’ve hired a personal trainer to keep me on track. I’m now cooking meals on Sunday so I have lunches for the work week. I’m not eating at my desk but rather in the break room. Lunch might be finished in 15 or 20 minutes, but at least it is a break. And some days, I take an entire hour. I also have all of my vacation days scheduled.

I’m also focusing more on the journey and not the destination. I’m working on not letting technology intrude. I can be sitting right by the phone and not answer it. I’m still working on ignoring e-mail except during set times.

I’ve changed my approach to my To Do List. At the top I now list my goals for the week, listing no more than three. Then I put on the list those items that will help me achieve those goals. Anything else is not urgent and is not needed on the list. Of course, some of those items may become urgent if they don’t ever get finished so I track them using the Task List in Outlook.

I’m saying “no” more frequently. Before accepting a meeting invitation, I must know the purpose. Otherwise, I don’t accept the request.

I’m also spending quiet time each day. It’s the one I struggle with the most. I started with a minute. I’m working up to 10 minutes each day. No music, no television. Just me sitting quietly being present and not busy.

Are you too busy? How do you get unbusy?

8 thoughts on “How Did I Get So Busy?

  1. Kristy says:

    I learned to say “no” to a lot of the things that I would have said “yes” to without a second thought. For example, I used to be a “yes girl” at work (middle school counselor) becauese part of me is a people-pleaser. This year alone, I said no to sponsoring the girl’s dance team and no to the school council association. This is my sixth year and the first five I ran a girl’s group after school, various committees, etc. At first I thought saying no would make me look selfish but in reality it makes me a better counselor becaue I’m happier. I still work just at hard but hardly ever stay longer than 1 and 1/2 extra hours after quitting time. This may still sound like a lot but at times I would stay 3 and 1/2 hours. Now I leave promptly at 4 with a friend and co-worker. We head to the gym and take the 4:30 classes (yoga is wonderful!). I’ve also gotten rid of friends who are flat out not good friends. And whenever anyone asks if I want to do something, I think about it first. Therefore I have more time to do what I want to do which is most of the time reading and writing. Luckily I married a man who shares my love of introversion and staying at home quite a bit. We do enough things every day that we don’t want to do (work for example!) therefore, in our free time, we deserve to do what we want to do. If that makes me selfish, so be it- but I’m happy!

  2. GREAT post Cynthia. And great comments. I like that ‘can be found in the dreams we dream along the way’ ….now I need to sit and mull on why that resonates with me, for some reason.

    Do you might if I reference your blog in my blog post?

  3. I read inspirational literature, like ‘The Wisdom of Florence Scovel Shinn’ or ‘Living Buddha, Living Christ’ which helps to put things in perspective. And, like you, I take time to meditate (baby steps) and have started yoga. And I write.


  4. Roger Hudak says:

    After spending a lifetime being “blinded by the light” of living with gas pedal to the floor, and trying to slow down with rewards of high octane libations, I’ve found that I was allowing ” the sound of my own wheels (to) make me crazy.” The “freedom of flight limited by nothing at all” became my mantra. Damn hard to do somedays. I’ve lost friends and famly doing what I firmly believe is the right thing to do. I have NO regrets since that wastes precious time. I firmly believe that “all of the answers we seek can be found i the dreams that we dream on the way.” I still dream big dreams!

    (Thanks to the music of my life for the quotes.) 😉

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