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I live and breathe by my calendar. It helps me stay in control of my to-do list and ensures I’m not missing things that are vital to the running of my home and business. Without one, I’d feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Plus it ensures I’m managing my time properly – a commodity that’s limited.
But, sometimes my calendar looks a little – well – jammed packed. When I look at all the items – appointments – time blocks of scheduled writing and work time – time with my grandchildren – household chores – and more, I’m left wondering when it will end. With everything on my plate, I’m conscious that I must use my time wisely without feeling like I’m stuck on a hampster wheel with an endless list of things to do.
So what happens when all these commitments collide? When does it become too much? What happens when you long to become unbusy?
It’s true we all have an endless list of things that require our attention, but many of us spend too much time doing things we dread, obligations we wish we could get out of or time devoted to our work that pays little return on our investment. We’re over jammed, and it’s sucking the life out of us – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Just because it’s scheduled doesn’t mean it’s necessarily valuable.
So ask yourself: Is your schedule serving your needs? What am I doing that I should be saying NO to? Am I really making the most of my time? What am I currently doing that I dread or doesn’t add value to my life? How can I become unbusy?
IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO BECOME UNBUSY CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING
BEING BUSY IS A CHOICE
No one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you into a lifestyle of busyness. It’s a decision we make. If you want to become less busy first realize that you control your schedule.
You have choices, and each day you’re faced with the choice to over-schedule yourself or give yourself some breathing room. You don’t have to live a busy life – you just have to make a different choice.
BUSY IS NOT ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE
Rest. Many of us have forgotten how valuable rest really is. But rest is crucial to our body, mind, and soul. It’s a necessary component to our health and well-being.
If you’re committed to getting off the hamster wheel of life, start scheduling a day of rest. Spend time with your family, friends or other loved ones. Put it down on paper and guard your day of rest at all costs. Commit to becoming unbusy one day a week.
THROW AWAY YOUR BADGE OF HONOR
Many of us wear busy like it’s a badge of honor. We proudly say how busy we are and how “we have so much going on.” But the reality is far different. Most of us end the day exhausted and cursing ourselves that we’ve yet let another day go by without focusing on the things that are most important to us.
Throw away your badge and embrace the concept of becoming unbusy.
UNDERSTAND ‘NO’ IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE
I’ve learned there is real personal power in saying “no” and not always doing what others ask or expect of you.
You might be uncomfortable with the idea of saying no immediately. If you want time to review your schedule or reflect on whether this is something you want to do just say, “I need to check my schedule; I’ll get back to you.”
Most importantly, this tactic helps you avoid letting yourself be pressured into over scheduling your life and taking on too much stress.
If your goal is to unjam your life, what should be taken off your calendar? What are some things your currently doing that is a time waster, activities you hate, obligations you resent? What can you take off your calendar to make room for more important things?
INVEST IN THE RIGHT PLANNER
There are lots of different planners out there, and sometimes it’s trial and error until you find the planner that works best for you. I’ve had that experience myself. I searched and searched for a planner that fit my lifestyle.
The planner I recommend checking out is the Living Well Spending Less Planner. Right now, and for a limited time, you can get the planner for $49, a savings of $6 off the regular pricing of $55. Check it out here.
You know that feeling – the feeling when you feel over-committed. It’s that pit in your stomach, the stress and anxiety of knowing you have too much on your plate.
Instead of stressing out, give yourself the permission you need to cancel plans, reschedule obligations and take a break when you really need one. Your calendar is fluid and not set in stone. In fact, I always use a pencil when filling in my calendar to remind myself things might have to change and if they do, I can go with the flow.
Remember, not everything needs to happen now. Some things will have to be put on the back burner or taken off the list completely. Either way, give yourself the permission to set your schedule in such a way that feels right for you.
THINGS YOU’RE NOT REALLY GOING TO DO
For the longest time, I wrote on my calendar every spinning class I wanted to take. The reality was far different. Instead of going to 6 classes a week I was lucky if I attended 3. Eventually, I removed the classes that didn’t really fit into my current reality, and I felt a whole lot better.
If there’s an item clogging up your calendar, get rid of it! Often, daily or weekly obligations can be moved to bi-weekly or once a month. Keep them on your calendar, and eventually, you won’t even notice them, and then they will NEVER be done.
By letting go of the idealized version of yourself and removing plans you “wish” you were going to keep you’re left with the time to focus on what you really want to do.
UNNECESSARY HOUSEHOLD TASKS
I love a clean home. If you saw my list of weekly cleaning and other household to-do’s you’d probably say I was crazy. But truth be told, I have a tendency to go a bit overboard with home responsibilities. It’s an area that I’ve made significant progress in over my lifetime, but I still have a ways to go. Do I need to wipe down all the light switches weekly? Probably not.
Here’s the thing: if you love cleaning and enjoy it, then keep it on your schedule. If on the other hand, you find yourself cleaning a guest room that NEVER gets used because you’ve habitually cleaned it since the beginning of time, now might be the time to let it go. Instead, carve out an extra 15 minutes once a month to tackle some area of your home that needs a little attention.
Instead, embrace some simple daily habits to keep your home looking neat and tidy and push off the rest for another time.
THINGS YOU DO OUT OF GUILT
Show of hands please if you have something on your calendar you do solely because of guilt? Most of us do.
And although I understand how hard it is to say no to organizing the community yard sale, taking dinner to a neighbor, or babysitting your grandkids, next time you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do, give yourself permission to bow out.
Constantly doing just because asked will eventually leave you feeling resentful, burned out and emotionally drained. Furthermore, it takes away from quality time you could be spending with your family or time needed for yourself. There is nothing wrong in saying no and refraining from doing anything purely out of guilt.
HOW TO REFOCUS THE POSSIBILITIES
If you’ve been on the roller coaster of being overly busy for too long, you’ll need to refocus so you can uncover the opportunities of your life and the things that matter most. But how does one accomplish this?
The answer is deceptively simple.
Without awareness, there can be no intention. Without purpose, you lose the ability to choose what matters and refuse what does not.
But if you’re anything like me you’ve been on autopilot most of your life. It takes effort to change the patterns of busyness. But, it can be done by becoming more aware. By being more away throughout the day, we notice when we’re returning to our old ways rather than intending to do something different. At that moment we can then choose differently.
But how do you learn to become more aware?
Related: 11 Ways To Embrace Simplicity
CULTIVATE A DAILY MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
There is much written about creating a daily mindfulness practice out there and some great apps you can use on your phone to accomplish this task. A couple of my favorites include Calm.com and 10% Happier.com both offer free and paid versions of their handy and useful apps.
I use the paid version of Calm because I like all the different meditation and mindfulness programs available and I love the rain background which I often listen to at night if I’m having trouble sleeping.
10% Happier, the app created by ABC News Anchor Dan Harris, offers really great pieces of information about mindfulness. If you’re new, these info topics are valuable and easy to follow.
If you’re brand new to the idea of mindfulness or meditation I’d like to recommend reading Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier. Written from a skeptics perspective, he eloquently walks you through how he came to embrace the practice and how it transformed his life.
One of the things you can do to build awareness and cultivate a mindfulness practice is by setting up reminders using your smartphone. Try scheduling 10-12 reminders in your phone.
When the reminder goes off, stop what you’re doing and take a moment to focus your awareness on that moment, get present. Notice where you are and what you’re doing. Take it all in. The scene, the scent, the sound, the feel. This will begin to train your brain to keep going back to this place of mindful awareness over time, without the need of the reminder.
Before too long, your mindfulness practice will help snap you out of the haze most of us live our lives in and help you to choose with intention how we want to react in any given moment. The result is a more peaceful and calm life.
If you feel like your life is too busy and you want to get off that hamster wheel and become unbusy, these suggestions will help guide you towards a life lived with more intention and purpose.