Don’t Be Busy

I cringe every time I hear myself say “Busy” when someone asks me how I am. It’s the automatic, the easy answer. But busy does describe how I actually am, just what I am. Busy. Or what I think I am. Busy.

Admit it. You do it, too. Please, can we stop?

“‘Busy’ is a choice, and it’s a choice I refuse to make,” writes KJ Dell’Antonia in her “I Refuse to Be Busy” piece in The New York Times. She’s on to something.

It’s easy to feel that the busyness of your life is beyond your control, that there is nothing you can do about it because life is just that, busy.

But busy, like boredom, is a state of mind. We make choices every day about how we spend our time, whether we feel like we do or not. Whether you feel busy while doing the things you choose to do, is also a choice. You can either feel rushed and harried from one thing to the next, or you can recognize that in some way you’ve chosen to do all these things and make the most of them.

For example, a “busy” Saturday for me might look like this: yoga at 7:30 am, dog training at 9 am, followed immediately by errands, getting a haircut (which takes way too long), laundry, maybe some grocery shopping and dinner with friends.

And here’s the thing: I could look at all these tasks as things I need to do (busy) or that I choose to do (not busy). I chose to go to yoga. I chose to have a well-trained dog. I chose to run errands. I chose to do laundry. I chose to grocery shop. I chose to get my hair done. I chose to have dinner with friends.

And perhaps more importantly, I chose to do all of these things in the same day. I could have spread them out, set aside time for some reading or a creative project. But I didn’t.

So, how do we get from this busy to not-busy state of mind? Get your priorities in order. When we’re “busy,” we go from one thing to next without thinking about what really matters to us, what we really want to be doing, how we really want to live. If you have your priorities straight, you can use them as a way to filter out the busyness.

Here are five tips from Tiny Buddha (what a brilliant name) on how to evaluate and set your priorities:

1. Take a break. Think about your life. What is really important to you.
2. Think about the things you are doing every day. Write them down.
3. Cut down on the urgent stuff. Or, else, clear out the clutter.
4. Run a test week.
5. Put in your life more of the important stuff.

(Read the full Tiny Buddha article here.)

And one more, from me: If you’re not “hell yes” about something don’t do it.

Please, don’t be busy.

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