6 Solutions for the Chronically Busy


If you are always behind, running late, worn down and tired out, chances are you are chronically busy.

You might also be chronically busy if …

  • you answer the question “How are you?” with “crazy-busy”, “so busy”, or “great but really busy”.
  • most people start a conversation with you like this, “I know you are busy but …”
  • you wish you could spend more time doing things you truly enjoy
  • you wish you could spend more time with people you truly enjoy
  • you still think you might get it all done

I used to be busy all the time too. Busy made me feel important, accomplished, wanted and maybe even loved and appreciated. On the flip side, busy wore me down, diluted my efforts, kept me from fully engaging in my most important relationships and ultimately, made me sick.

I couldn’t begin to slow down until I realized that I chose my busy lifestyle. It may have been by default, but I did choose to be busy. And then, when I realized how damaging busy was, I felt stuck. How could I make a change now? I had bills to pay, people to please and couldn’t find a way out.

There is hope and a chance for you to enjoy your life instead running crazy all day long.

6 Solutions for the Chronically Busy

1. Take Back Your Mornings.
It all starts when you open your eyes in the morning. Those eyes are either on email or Facebook before your feet hit the floor, or turned inward for a few moments of peace of quiet. Start with 2-3 minutes all for you and then gradually increase your time. Wake up earlier, or rearrange your morning so you can eventually have 30 minutes or more to create a meaningful morning routine and start the day your way.

2. Redo Your To-do
If your to-to list is 2 pages long and never done, it’s time for new plan. Keep a running list in a notebook or on workflowy.com if it helps you feel less stressed, and then write down the 3 things you want to accomplish most on a 3X5 index card and focus on those three things.

3. Eat the Same Thing
Find a family favorite meal and plan on that for dinner 3 nights a week. Try one simple meal, and say goodbye to running by the grocery store everyday or the temptation to pick up take out on the way home.

4. Consider the Possibility that Your Busyness is Selfish
You may justify your busyness by reminding yourself that you are serving everyone around you. It’s true that you are busy doing things for other people, but an intentional slow down will allow you to give even more to the right people. By pulling back, you have a chance to find out what you really need and what the people around you really need and develop a greater sense of community and contribution.

5. Remove Busy from Your Vocabulary
Saying things, like “I’m so busy” or “I’m fine, but really busy” only results in feeding egos, competing with other people, making an excuse, or feeling like a victim. Just stop telling people how busy you are. Stop saying it. Stop identifying with it and stop defining yourself by how busy you are.

6. Unplug
After an internet-lite holiday, I can’t stress how important it is to shut your computer, put down the iPad and turn off your phone on a regular basis. Set boundaries that work for your lifestyle and once you unplug, go for a walk or give someone or something 100% of your attention. When you fall in love with your right now, you can let go of what’s waiting in my inbox anxiety.

Staying busy is initially easier than change. When you are busy and your day is planned with back to back activities and obligations, you have the illusion of control. There is no room for the unexpected or unplanned.

All it takes is one step towards simplicity, towards doing less and enjoying more. It is so worth that first step.



    • Courtney Carver says

      Things go to fast without us making everything all busy. You are always such an inspiration to me! Can’t wait for our next work out – lunch – work meet-up.

  1. says

    I was chronically busy too. I felt like I needed to be productive all of the time and didn’t give myself time to rest and relax. I was wearing myself out!

    I started slowing down a few years ago and started enjoying life more. I still catch myself talking about being busy from time to time. I like to use that kind of talk as a signal that it is time to slow down again.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Karla, That is so smart. It really is a signal and it’s so great that you have the time and space to listen!

  2. Heather says

    I stopped competing at work, to “impress” anyone, including my boss. I now go in at 8 instead of 7:15 and I make a list of my top 3 items for the day, check them off and then do a small project, if times permits by 5. I know my boss doesn’t like it but I know I am being more efficient and MUCH happier. : )

    • Heather says

      Oh and hence the reason for changing careers. I am SO tired of sitting at a desk 9-10 hours a day and being ran into the ground, watching days and months go by. I ready to slow down my career and amp up the living. :)

  3. says

    I’m with you for all them, except the same meal. I really couldn’t manage that. But then I do love menu plans and lists and I couldn’t keep on top of a family of five without a weekly plan :)

  4. says

    Another GREAT post!

    StoryPeople greeting card by artist and storyteller, Brian Andreas said:

    “Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.”

  5. says

    This was fantastic. I have been following your blog for sometime, trying to simplify my life. Letting go of things that get in the way. I needed to read this as I hear the ” I am so busy but” coming out of my mouth too many times. I open my eyes and immediately check my phone.. Sigh. With 4 small kids, work part time and a husband who travels quite a bit, I have been trying to cut out a lot on my plate. I have let the laundry pile up to read books with my kids, I am trying to pare down my clutter so it is not too overwhelming to clean. I allow only 1 activity a season per kid and actually schedule them on Tuesday and Thursday so our other days are left as free days to enjoy and have downtime. I deactivated my Facebook account. (have not gotten rid of candy crush yet, but will soon :) You have inspired me to do these things, I just have not commented before.
    Thank you for your inspiring words to make us appreciate the now and truly be more with less.

    • says

      Rachel – I think that your idea of limiting and controlling your children’s activities is so important. I see so many women who are simply run ragged by their children’s sports, lessons, etc.

      This is a great post. Thanks.

  6. says

    As my health has deteriorated over the last 3 years i have found the less i have the less i have to take care of and i believe after 3 years of hard work by me and my daughter i am reaching ‘tipping point’ or maybe ‘no tipping point’ as they won’t be anything left in my house i don’t want or need.

  7. Bill says

    Workflowy is great. IMHO Workflowy + Bitrix24 = best free productivity combo in the history of humankind

  8. says

    I started off 2014 by taking a whole day to unplug via what I call a “no electronics day” where the TV, computer and Smartphone are turned off. No Skyping with my boyfriend, no music…just me and a whole lot of peace and quiet. What I found was it was one of the best days in a very long time! It was so good in fact, that each Wednesday I am now honoring the day via “no electronics.” This article is inspiring for me to look at new ways of applying this concept in even more areas of my life. Thanks! Perfect timing to read this. I appreciate you sharing your lessons with each of us as a way to enrich our lives.

  9. says

    Great read and hits home…reading while waiting at the doctor’s office, physically ill, I’m convinced, from what you speak of. Our generation of women are burning out (fast) – thank you for bringing light to this.

  10. says

    Wow! This really resonated with me. A bit painful, but necessary. I have 3 preteen and teenage children and a husband with advanced MS and lately I’ve been feeling as if life is a bit out of control. It used to be quiet with long lovely days, but now its non-stop and I’m so burnt out.

    This week my kids are at camp and my husband is spending a couple if days with his good friend and I have had time to clear my head. Lots of changes need to be made and this post helped confirm some things for me.

    Thank you!