Are you a person who often struggles with the “need to be busy” mindset? I know that I am definitely one of these people and it’s something that I have been working on for a while! My go-to answer for when people ask me how I am doing was always, “oh I’m so busy” or “life has been so crazy busy lately.” Talking about how busy we are has become a new normal for many people. In society, today, we have put so much value on being productive, side-hustling, and overscheduling that it almost feels wrong to not be busy 24/7. It’s basically the most socially acceptable excuse for not being able to do anything or for feeling too tired nowadays. However, this “need to be busy” mindset and these habits tend to lead us to potential burnout, feeling constantly stressed out, and it creates a negative, toxic environment for yourself and others around you. We all know that stress is bad for our health, yet we strive to fill up our calendars with more and more work in order to parade/show off our busyness as if it’s a badge of honor.
If you are looking to get out of the busy mindset, but not sure where or how to start, try out some of these tips below! ❤️
1. Focus on what’s most crucial
When you begin to remove the items from your to-do list that are least crucial, you will make more time for the things that are most important. Start by looking at your to-do list and being more mindful about what matters and what doesn’t matter. This is how we begin eliminating unnecessary tasks. I know that in today’s world, we are very action-driven, and we tend to look up to people who always seem “busy.” It’s almost as if we correlate busyness with excitement and success.
However, there is no showing if these people who you look up to are actually achieving these things that they say they’re “hustling” for. Just because you feel that you can do more and try to “keep up with Joneses” does not mean that you have to add more! Instead of focusing on that “need to be busy” mindset, start being more mindful about what you do and don’t do. That way, your schedule is only filled with tasks or events that matter most to you! I felt as if I no longer had time for myself anymore. Yet, I did this to myself week after week!
2. Don’t agree to things just to fill up calendar space
I definitely used to be guilty of this one the most! Every Sunday, when I would schedule out my week in advance, I would look at the blank spaces and almost feel anxious for not having anything to do on a certain day or at a certain time. So, I would purposely seek out things to do just to fill in that space! Someone needs me to babysit? I really don’t want to, but I guess I have the time! Someone wants me to go shopping with them? I’m trying to save money, but since I’m free next Thursday I guess I can go. I’m sure you get the idea! However, this habit of mine wouldn’t cause me to feel achieved and successful by the end of the day. It would cause me to feel depleted, stressed, bitter, and annoyed.
Stop putting pressure on yourself to fill up the spaces in your calendar! Start to feel okay with the fact that you do not need to be busy every single day! You will be surprised how much time you will have to do things that actually benefit you and that are actually fun for you! But, this only happens when you start saying no to the pointless extras! With that, you will also have time to focus on yourself and take that much-needed break to refuel and regain your energy!
3. Focus on quality over quantity
Everybody I know is always trying to play catchup every single week with their daily to-dos! Which in return, leads them to feel guilty, anxious, and frustrated when they can not keep up with all of their tasks at one time. I’ve noticed, when I rush through my to-do list, trying to finish everything as soon as possible, I tend to a lot of my tasks without even thinking. I think a lot of us could benefit from slowing down and focusing on the quality of the tasks that we are doing each day. Not so much the quantity! And, this will stop you from trying to write down as much as possible on your to-do lists! Taking the time to focus on the quality of each task means that you are making sure that you do not waste your valuable time by doing the same task or job over and over again.
This mindset shift from quantity to quality will really help you take some load off your to-do list, decrease your stress levels, and allow you to focus on finishing and achieving each goal! Rather than just doing and scrambling to finish each task as fast as possible.
4. Don’t bond over each other’s stress
Raise your hand if you find yourself frequently slipping into this habit! ✋I know that I have way too many times! Your friend texts you back and talks about how busy she was over the weekend, and you respond to her sharing your similar story about how busy you were too. We have all been there! And I can honestly see how this tends to happen on a regular basis. When we notice that others are just as busy, stressed, and overwhelmed as us, it almost gives us that comforting feeling that we are not the only ones who’s life is a crazy, busy mess!
However, here’s the thing when it comes to bonding over the stress of being busy. It normalizes a busy lifestyle and having an overworked and overwhelming daily schedule. Which again, makes us feel guilty if our calendars aren’t completely filled. But what benefits come out of a stressful, overworked schedule? Honestly nothing! Just future burnout and resentment towards your current job and lifestyle.
How to reroute your conversation…
The next time someone brings up their stressful and busy schedule, try offering them some helpful ideas on how to minimize their tasks. Give them some planning hacks or some tip management tips if you have any that work well for you! Do this without sharing your own equally busy story. This goes with social media as well! Be more mindful about your posts or comments. Try not to glorify a busy and overworked lifestyle. And if you are scrolling through social media and see someone else trying to glorify their busy schedule, don’t let it get to you! You never know what life is like for them behind the scenes!
5. Realize that productivity does not determine your worth
I feel that this is another lesson that I learned as soon as I hit my twenties! And I am so happy that I finally realized it and took the time to acknowledge it! As I mentioned above, many of us seem to have the assumption that if we are not busy all of the time, then we are not working hard enough. And thus, we are not being productive enough or trying hard enough to achieve our goals. However, I have come to realize that being too busy actually causes us (me!) to be less productive and get fewer things done!
You may be thinking, how can this really be though? If I am “busy” and working to get my tasks done, how am I being less productive? Well, a recent study, published by David Meyer, showed that switching to what you are doing mid-task (multitasking) actually increases the time that it takes you to finish both tasks by 25%! Meyer states, “multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes”..”disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.” So now that you know that, remember this…
Believing that productivity determines your self-worth can be very damaging!
Especially when you have this incredibly high and hard to reach standard set in your mind. This inevitably ends up making us feel disappointed, ashamed, lazy, guilty, and unproductive. Which is all wrong, and so damaging and detrimental to our mental health and our emotional well-being. It’s sad that the fear of being unproductive has ultimately become an epidemic that has affected many of us. We need to stop focusing on measuring our worth to our levels of productivity! And instead, begin focusing our attention and value on who we are as individuals. Start valuing what brings you joy and peace each day, instead of valuing how much work you can get done each day.
6. Leave some “no space” in your calendar
This idea is a newer one for me! But lately, I have been using it every Sunday when I plan out my weekly schedule. Instead of looking at my calendar in a “how many things can I fit” type of way, I look at it in a “how can I utilize my time to benefit myself” kind of way. Every Sunday evening, I make it a habit to carve some “no space” into each day of the week. What I consider to be “no space” is the time I schedule each day that is off-limits to anyone. This is the time of day that I dedicate to doing something that I enjoy or that benefits me and my goals. Say I schedule in an hour to workout from 6-7 pm on a Tuesday evening, but my friend asks me to hang out at that time that evening, I simply say that I already have plans booked.
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Now, this doesn’t have to be every single day! I know, for me, I don’t always schedule in “no space” if I simply can’t each day. But, I do believe that it is so important for your mental health to have at least one day that you dedicate some “no space” into. It can be for anything! A walk, to go out and get coffee, or simply to stay home and relax. The reason I schedule out this “no space” is to make sure that I actually take time to do it! Because let’s be honest, something may come up or I might get distracted (we’re all human!) and I forget to take time out of my schedule to invest in my well-being. I think this is so vital for our overall health! Especially as we get older. Our lives become more demanding and stressful, and we need to make a habit of scheduling time for ourselves! There is no shame in taking time out of your day or week to set aside for something that makes you feel happy and refreshed!
Are you addicted to being busy? If so, what did you think of these tips?
Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear your thoughts! 😊