Is busy making us crazy?

"How have you been? How is business? I'm sure you are busy."

The amount of times I am asked about the busy-ness of my schedule is confirmation that we have all become addicted to the busy way of life. 

How many times have you said you just don't have the time because you are so busy? 

The pace of our lives has increased throughout the years and in some way I think we have forgotten that being busy is a choice we make.  The world is loud and bossy and the more we let her run the show, the more noisier she gets. 

Looking for the root of the problem is an act that we've left for someone else to do. Hopefully someone with more time. Meanwhile, we've got to hurry on with our life while leaning on tips, tricks, apps, and life hacks to get through our week. 

So what is the culprit because we've lost the forest for the trees.

Culprit #1: We should all over ourself and let others should all over us.

Should indicates obligation or duty. We should sign our kids up for activities because we don't want them to be bored or playing video games all day. We should accept most invitations because we want to be a good friend. We should handle all household and family affairs because our husband doesn't know how and he might mess it up.

Culprit #2: Our technology focused lifestyle encourages us to move faster and faster.

It has been scientifically proven that the blue light from our devices is harmful to our health and even addiciting. No wonder we can't seem to untether from the phone/computer/iPad/TV. Aside from the device itself, we've all gotten very accustomed to ingesting the toxic soup that is social media.

Marketers have figured out that they can continue to sell us discontent and need by using the so-called influencer. We've moved past their ads in magazines and have dodged the commercials with DVRs and subscription TV, so they decided to meet us where they know we are, online. The constant urge to catch up keeps us moving 100mph. Not to mention, the never-ending urge to check in and docu-share.

Culprit #3: We've gotten a little confused about where the lines in the sand should be drawn.

We read articles and listen to podcasts that talk about taking care of ourself first and foremost. We relegate to taking more bubble baths and walks in nature. Then next week we read another article that says we need to give to get. "Be generous of your time, money, possessions, and energy" it retorts!

Wait, which way are we going again?

The answer is we do both. What happens is we gloss over the part of the giving recommendation that says, give from the overflow.

If I give you money yet I don't have enough to pay my bills, then I will be bankrupt.

If I give you time yet I already don't have enough to get everything done that I want, then I will be bankrupt.

The way to slow ourselves down out of this addiction may be multi-faceted, but I want you to start with one small act.

Say no.

No is the perfect boundary to start with because it simultaneously encourages us to find our voice and our way again. 

For one month, I want you to decline all requests of your time.  

Keep track of all your fixed yes's - the things you have already committed to and cannot easily get out of. 

  • Where did the request come from?

  • When will the obligation end?

Keep track of all other requests that come in while  you simultaneously decline. Feel free to share with to requestor about the project; they may be interested in doing it as well. 

  • Sarah asked me to dinner on 6/19.

  • John invited us to a concert on 6/30.

At the end of the month, rate all fixed and declined requests on a scale of 1 (really didn't want to go) - 10 (totally wanted to go!).

This simple assignment will bring awareness to what we tend to say yes to and why. Perhaps it is out of obligation. Perhaps it is out of fear of hurting someone's feelings. Perhaps it is out of the need to feel worthy.

When we respect our time then we begin to get really picky about what we accept and what we decline. Let's clear out the excess to gain some perspective.

Jennifer Burnham