Being super busy, crazy busy, busy-busy, and filling every waking moment (and then some) with to-do’s has become a socially accepted form of martyrdom. Everyone is so busy adding new apps, hacks, and systems so they can basically do more faster so that they have time for, well, doing even more!
We wear busyness like a badge of honor. If you are busy, you must be important. If you’re not, then who are you? If you have a moment of breathing space, it must mean that your business is on the verge of collapse. What else could it possibly mean?
I’m not suggesting we all renounce doing anything at all and start staring at the walls. Not even close. What we do brings meaning and energy to our days (ideally). As a business owner you will always have things to do. I know I have plenty of things to do.
You can eschew busyness and find yourself remarkably happier, healthier, and more productive.
I used to go through my days trying to cram as much as humanly possible into it. I would be working on the computer while talking on the phone and waiting for the laundry to finish. I would schedule my calendar without even enough time to pee between client calls and find myself working late into the night to finish “just one more thing!”
I had enough of it and over the last few years have continued to prune where and how I invest my energy. (Check out my posts on “Simplify”, “Shed, Sift, and Savor”, and “what really matters” for more)
Along the way I’ve discovered a few surprising gifts of boycotting being busy for the sake of being busy.
The Precious Gift of Presence
When you’re not constantly running from one thing to the next you get to actually be here now. You listen more deeply to your clients and the people you love. You notice your dog or cat curled up in the sunbeam and you take a moment to drink it in. You have a few minutes to help a friend or add value to a stranger. You uncover new income opportunities and actually have the energy to pursue it. You become a kinder, gentler version of your Type A self. At least I did. And the best part? Every time I hug someone I love I feel it with all my senses because you just never know what tomorrow brings.
Stop Living Someone Else’s Agenda
Letting email and technology run your life is living someone else’s agenda. I hear you saying “But they won’t like it if I don’t respond immediately!” Unless you are working in the ER or a tech support line, they don’t NEED to hear from you immediately. If you feel like a dog on someone else’s short leash, boycotting the busyness is the key to running free in an open field with the wind in your fur and ears flapping (or at least the doggie park).
Saying No When You Mean No
Imagine the words, “thank you, but no.” coming out of your lips when offered an “amazing” opportunity to advertise, volunteer, or otherwise contribute your time to something that isn’t the right fit for you right now. Feel awkward with a little uncomfortable buzz in your stomach? Perhaps. But a split second of feeling uncomfortable (because you aren’t used to speaking your truth, yet) beats months or years of spending your time where you don’t have time to spare.
Making Friends with Silence
It’s too damn quiet in here! I can’t stop being busy or meditate or be mindful because I can’t control my mind! Welcome to the club. I cannot control my mind either. But I don’t have to let the inmates run the show. I’ve discovered that solitude and silence can be my best friend and a source of better discernment, inspiration, innovation, and renewal. Not sure how you want to reinvent your business? Grinding over it like a hamster digging a hole isn’t the answer. Inviting some unstructured time into your world is.
Boredom Becomes a Non-Issue
“I don’t know what to do with myself when I am not doing something!” “I always need to be busy.” “I get bored so I should just get ahead on next week’s work.” Well bullshit. That’s my answer to you. I don’t know who said it first, but Cheryl Richardson recently tweeted: “Boredom is the gateway to peace for the brave souls willing to sit with the pleasure of nothingness.”
While I agree now (even though I’m at a point in my life where restlessness is nipping at my heels every single day), I didn’t always feel that way. I used to feel if I wasn’t doing something “productive” I was wasting time and falling further behind. Then I broke through that veil of feeling uncomfortable when boredom creeps in and I found a lot less angst on the other side.
Getting to Know Yourself and Those You Love Better
Who has time for that? How does that help me grow my business or my life? If you don’t know yourself or take care of yourself, the hub, the lynchpin of everything you are working so hard to build is likely crumbling (but you’re not noticing because you’re too busy!). If you don’t know yourself truthfully (without all the stories you tell yourself) you are likely to be dazzled by all kinds of shiny things and half-baked promises. You make choices based on what others say you “should” instead of a well thought out decision based on head and heart. Time to have a cup of coffee with a friend or take the day to play is the ultimate currency. Don’t miss it while you are so busy trying to tick more things off your to-do list.
Stop being busy and get focused!