I used to brag about how busy I was. I thrived on the stress of back to back appointments, being attached to my phone for calls and email, and working long after office hours were over. My busyness made me feel relevant, and productive. I enjoyed being in demand. At least that’s what I told myself.
The reality is that I wasn’t happy being busy, even though I tried to convince myself and everyone around me I was. My busyness compromised my health, relationships, and overall sanity. Getting things done was the priority. If keeping up, catching up, and getting things done is your priority, where does enjoying your work, really being there for the people you love, and taking care of yourself fall?
After making significant changes over the past few years, my schedule is rarely full. I have a busy day here and there, but I don’t have a busy life. Similar to Albert Einstein’s quote, “Out of clutter comes simplicity.” I’d like to suggest that out of busyness comes a deep desire for a more meaningful life, for a full life.
Imagine a life with less confusion and doubt. Clarity makes everything easier, but getting there requires change and commitment especially if you are busy, distracted and overwhelmed. When you are clear about what makes you happy, healthy, and loving, you can be happy, healthy, and loving.
When you are overextended, your brain becomes a running to do list that you chew on all night long. When you begin to let go of non-stop activity on the outside, you naturally release the non-stop activity on the inside. Then you can sleep.
When you make time to really listen to people, you learn so much. If you are too busy, conversations are rushed, but when you have the time and space to be present and engaged, the lessons are endless. Everyone has something to offer you.
4. More meaningful work
I could work harder, produce more, and grow my business faster, but that didn’t work for me before. Now that work for myself, I choose more meaningful work, projects I’m crazy about, and connection that lasts. My friend Brian Gardner from No Sidebar and I talk more about that in this interview: The Intersection of Minimalism and Running a Successful Online Business.
How can we truly bond if I won’t put my phone down? How can I hear what you are saying if my mind is somewhere else? Make cuts to make room for the most important people in your life. Never be too busy for them.
6. Joy walks
When was the last time you went for a walk just for the joy of it? When you are busy, walking might mean turning the speed up on the treadmill, or simply getting from point a. to point b. A joy walk is different. A joy walk invites you to stretch your legs, open your heart, and notice things that speak to your soul.
You produce creative sparks even when you are busy, but it’s hard to take them seriously. Who has time for crazy ideas in such a busy world? Those sparks become more and more prevalent and tangible when you slow down. And then, the possibilities are endless.
I remember feeling so busy that I thought one more thing would be the last straw. Handling the unexpected is much easier with less. Give yourself more flexibility so you aren’t completely derailed by surprises and life’s little curve balls.
When you aren’t so busy, you can be kind, and become a witness to kindness. You start to notice the little things like a smile, or a wave. You have time to consider how you respond, and how you treat people.
Trade your busy life for a full one. When you engage in passions and projects you love, and spend time with people you love, everything is sweeter.
These 10 things to look forward to on the other side of busyness will be there when you are ready. Make room for them on your calendar and in your heart, one by one. I caught glimpses of them from my busy life, but today they are each a big part of my slower lifestyle. I may have missed opportunities in rejecting busyness, but I got my life back.