(5 minute read)
“Life is like butter – when things cool down it can be reshaped” –Alan Sheinwald
Our culture convinces us busyness is a mark of honor. Our minds persuade us the busier we are the more productive and needed we should feel. This is a lie. Busyness does not equate to self-worth.
It used to be when you asked the empty question, “How are you?” the response would be “Fine,” regardless of whether the person was fine or on the verge of losing a kidney. I have a dislike for this vain conversation, but more so now, as the canned answer has gone from “Fine” to “Busy.”
I wore a busy badge for a long time. Determined to prove to the world I was confident, strong, and could multi-task with the best of them. One of my co-workers would often say to me, “You make lightening look like loafing,” as I buzzed around the laboratory. I was proud of my busy badge. I craved the chaos.
The company I worked for closed; we were all terminated. I lost my career and as a result became conscious of the devastation this behavior was wreaking on my life.
Contrary to popular opinion, you cannot handle it all. Nor for your own good, should you. We all have limits on how much we can manage while still maintaining quality to our work, and a high level of personal health.
How do you know when you are too busy?
Here are 7 indications it’s time to give “Busy” the boot:
1. You are an emotional time bomb. You find yourself anxious, irritable, depressed, and feeling overwhelmed. Is your schedule so tight there isn’t room for an unplanned bathroom break? Does a single traffic light turning red send you into a fit of rage?
I once cried over French fries. No, I don’t remember why. In hindsight, it would be interesting to know if there was even a reason I could articulate. At the time I was certain it was hormonal. You know something I couldn’t control. Now I am confident it was nothing but stress from busyness.
Stop fooling yourself by thinking if you can just make it past this little spurt of chaos things will settle down. Life will never settle down unless you make it. Remove the busy badge and deactivate the bomb.
2. You’re so late you think you’re in first: only to find you’re not even in the race. If you find yourself rushing around yet forever more late, there could be too much on your schedule. Lateness brings anxiety and stress which leads to illness. If you are on time, not only will you get the full experience of where you are going but you will enjoy being there more. Who knows, you might even remember what happened.
3. Those that deserve your best get your worst. When the time you spend with those you claim to love most reeks with strife, stress, and hurry there is no time for love. Love demands peaceful attention. Love demands listening in silence. Love demands undemanding time. It is when we sit in silent peace with someone we love we form our most powerful connections.
4. A fresh look is not your thing. I started keeping my hair this way in college. Not because I thought it looked great but because I didn’t have the time or money for a haircut. Later in life I had the money but still no time. Now, after so many years I have the time and money but I suppose it has become habit by now. Besides, this style or should I say, entire lack thereof, has grown on me.
Do you find yourself skipping showers, and checkups? Worse yet, do you go just one more day without shaving? Are you too tired to participate in your own life, yet find yourself marveling at the lives of others on Facebook? By the way, most people admit sensationalizing their lives on Facebook so don’t fret they are in the same boat as you.
Ditch the busy badge along with the moo-moo, freshen up and start living.
5. You’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Are you always battling a cold, the sniffles, headaches or the like? As a scientist, I understand infections come from viruses and bacteria. Yet, there is something called resistance. We know when stressed our resistance lowers. This could be for any number of reasons. Maybe we are too rushed to wash our hands well. I once had a friend who asked her son if he washed his hands after coming out of a public restroom. His response was, “This one I did,” as he raised his right hand in pride. Take time to wash both hands, always. Maybe we are just tired and as a result put our hands on our faces more than if we felt rested. Maybe it is as simple as pushing your immune system to the max. There are countless viruses and bacteria at each public location you visit in your busy day. Between stress and the high exposure your immune system cannot handle the load. Ditch the busy badge in exchange for a healthier you.
6. You overuse band-aids. When you are too busy to take the time to fix a problem and instead put a band-aid on it you are too busy. We all know we should eat healthy, sleep, spend time with friends and family, and get plenty of exercise. Yet, the most often used excuse for not doing so is, “I am too busy.” Our answer is to put a band-aid, such as a fast food meal on the problem. If you plan to, “Catch up on sleep” over the weekend, you are too busy for your own good. Maybe you think a phone call to a friend would be just as good as meeting for lunch, or better yet a card will suffice until I have more time. Stop using band-aids, ditch the busy badge.
7. You spiritual life is sucked dry. If the highest purpose you live for is to wake up another day to go to work or to make it to the next soccer game, your spiritual life is sucked dry. Your deepest focus after all should be the one on the surface of your life, shining through at all levels. Your spirituality should permeate all other aspects of life. It should not be something you pick up and put down when you have time from your busy schedule. Take off the busy badge and put on what is most important.
If you find yourself exhibiting one or more of these indications, don’t fret most of us do. So, how do you ditch the busy badge? First, you must believe busyness is not a measure of self worth. It does not make you more needed or more important.
Busyness makes you run around like a crazy person. You exhaust all your resources on the unimportant, to the detriment of the important. Busyness robs you of a life filled with meaning.
Once you have decided to ditch your busy badge, next decide what is important to you. Rather than take some drastic measure all at once out of guilt, choose one area to focus on and improve. Slow and right always beats fast and wrong. We are all leery of change. Take it slow and do away with distractions one by one.
Cool down, reshape your life, and ditch the busy badge for good.
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