Busyness – occasionally it’s is unavoidable, but mostly it’s a state of our own making. You don’t sit down and think to yourself, “I want my day to be so frantic I’m bent over in pain at 3 pm cos I haven’t had a chance to pee” or write on your list of goals, “Life so full, catch-ups with friends must be scheduled two months in advance”. You don’t have to. Busyness creeps up on you and is the result of a myriad a small, everyday decisions. In fact, it’s so insidious that unless you take intentional steps to avoid it, busyness weasels its way in as life’s default setting.
That’s my experience. I took a big intentional step to get out of the rat race. I quit my job. Rather than being a mother and a worker, I became just a mother. Problem solved. Except it wasn’t.
Twelve months later, there I was back in a similar situation – frantically busy and overwhelmed. No whitespace, no margin for error. All it took was a small blip, like my son getting sick, for the wheels to fall off. I was working hard, up late every night doing all the things, but I felt like I was treading water. No matter what I did, there was always more to be done, or more I could be doing. And I no longer had the job to blame – this time there was no dodging it, it was all down to me.
While my life looked different on the outside, the stories I was telling myself were still the same. Against a backdrop of hefty cultural narratives like “If you’re not busy you’re not worthy”, “You only live once”, and “If I just [insert antithesis of this week’s perceived shortcoming], then I’ll be happy”, it’s no surprise I couldn’t leave the busyness behind.
But leave it behind I have. More than any life hacks or productivity tip, it’s changing the stories I tell myself that has made the lasting difference.
To craft a life that’s less busy, you need strong counterweights to the constant messages that you should do more, be more and have more. Here are some that work for me:
- I am enough
- I have plenty of time
- One thing at a time
- More does not mean better
- Less do, more be
- What is important this second?
- Nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
You need to start telling yourself a new story – that it’s okay to slow down.
Which mantra resonates most with you?