Every year of my adult life seemed to be busier than the one before. The better I got at being busy, the more I had to do and prove. Sound familiar?
Then email and other tools to make us more efficient and productive came along, and with that the capacity for busyness and proving our busyness exploded. Soon, clients, collegues, and employers could track our busyness. They could see if we were working into the wee hours or who was the first one in the office.
The more I worked, the more work I had. For awhile, I thrived on busyness. Then I resented it.
Eventually my busyness became unproductive in every possible way.
- My work suffered.
- My relationships suffered.
- My health suffered.
I was busy for the sake of busy, and gradually became less curious, less creative and less patient.
Over the last few years, by simplifying my life, I’ve slowed down, banished busyness, and reclaimed the things that matter most to me. I may still have busy days, and projects that require time and energy, but I don’t use them to prove my worth or my work.
When you do things you truly enjoy, and respect that there is a time to work and a time to play or rest, busyness and busy work feels empty. When you work with people who want your best instead of your busiest, you can be curious and creative with your work again.
You may notice that even once you let go of your busyness, your mind still clings to it. Your mind can be busy with worry, to-do lists and by anticipating busyness. If you’ve ever been awake in the middle of the night thinking about all the pieces of a new project, or are thinking about things you need to do while you are cooking dinner, taking a walk, or mid-conversation, you know what I mean.
When breath meets busy
The next time you feel overwhelmed with the thought of busyness, or when your mind is busy worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, let your breath meet busy. Breathing is something we do all day long with very little effort or attention. Turning your focus towards your breathing provides the time and space you need to remove panic and reaction and see things more clearly.
1. Sit comfortably. (whatever that looks like for you)
2. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Let your thoughts rush into the silence and notice busyness taking over.
5. Instead of freaking out and finding some noise turn to the one thing that is with you all the time: your breath.
6. Start counting:
- Breathe in while you count slowly to 5
- Hold your breath for 3 seconds
- Breathe out while you count slowly to 8
- Hold your breath for 1 second.
- Repeat until the timer goes off
7. When the timer goes off, take one deep breath in through your nose, exhale through your mouth, slowly open your eyes, and lift your gaze.
Do it your way
Use this simple meditation practice in a way that works best for you. If 3 minutes is more manageable to start, try that. If you want to change the counts, go for it. You can call this mediation, breath work, your saving grace, or whatever you want. What you call it is way less important than what you do with it.
Don’t let semantics get in the way of using your breath to quiet your mind, ease your fears and calm your worries. Forbes reports that Meditation can make you a better leader and I’d add that it can make you a better parent, friend, lover, artist, and person.
Do it when you need it, or more regularly for added benefit.
If you are ready to begin to banish busy …
- Work with people who want your best, not your busiest.
- Instead of distracting yourself with food, TV or Facebook, let your breath meet your busy.
- Spend time with people who don’t need proof of how wonderful you are. What you earn, own, do or say doesn’t even begin to describe what you are worth.
Take 5 minutes right now and try the breathing exercise above. I’d love to hear about your experience.