There is one phrase that, every time I hear it, I silently gnash my teeth and/or make a face (depending on where this conversation is taking place). You’ve probably already guessed what it is based on the post title, right?
“I’m just too busy.”
“I really want to work on this project but I’m just too busy.” “I really wanted to get more done this week but I’m just too busy.” “I’d love to spend more time relaxing, but I’m just too busy.”
Now, you might be thoughtfully holding on to an idea for later use, when you can do it its full justice. You might be planning your year in a leisurely fashion. You might be honoring your energy levels and working to suit them.
But that doesn’t make you “too busy”.
If you’re too busy to do something, then it’s not a priority. Period.
Saying “busy” is one thing. We’re all busy. And most not-ridiculously-lazy people I know tend towards busy-ness - if we don’t know what to do or why, we’re much more likely to fill our time with any old task or project we can, just to feel like we’re doing something. (Thanks, culture of overwork.)
But “too busy”?
Too busy is a mindset. Too busy is not knowing and acknowledging your current energy levels and work load. Too busy is having no idea which tasks are your high priority ones or which ones will get the results you want, so instead, you’re spending too much time on (wait for it) busy work. Too busy is being unsure of where your time is actually going, so instead of using it mindfully, you have this constant low-grade background buzz of busy-ness.
The thing is, when I look at my actual work load, and things I got done, I realize this: 99% of the time, my days where I feel hectic and busy and zomg-can’t-breathe are not actually any more full of work than days where I sail through it all and feel like an über-productive BAMF at the end of the day. It comes down to two differences: planning & mindset.
Most days, I know exactly what to do, in what order. I know what my priorities are for this given week or month or quarter, and my task list is a mix of that and day-to-day work and client work. And my task list is broken down into doable chunks, instead of mini-projects (i.e. I don’t just have “research, outline, and write a blog post” on my planner, I have “write blog post that you outlined on Tuesday”).
The other thing that makes a huge difference is mindset. On the days when I feel great about my work, I’m taking care of myself. I’m allowing myself room to breathe. I took the time to go through my morning routine and eat an actual breakfast and take breaks throughout the day. These all sound like super-basic things but they are so easy to eff up. (Sometimes I feel like I need to hire someone to stand over my shoulder and say “Okay, time for a break! Get the hell out of that chair and do some yoga, woman!”)
I want you to stop the next time you catch yourself saying, “I’m too busy”, and ask yourself which isn’t working here: planning or mindset. Figure out why you’re feeling too busy and take action – today, now – so that you don’t have to say that to anyone ever again.
Photo credit: Kailash Gyawali