It’s absolutely fine to be busy. A lot of us would be twiddling our thumbs in boredom if we weren’t. But are you actually busy just for busy’s sake? Like a nutty adrenaline fix that keeps you moving non-stop until you collapse into bed at night?
It’s time to ask yourself if you’re busy with the right stuff and whether, with a bit of systemising, you can streamline what actually needs doing.
If you were to slow down, drop a few things from your to-do list and free up some extra space in your life - what would fill that space?
Make a list. What do you never have time for? List anything that springs to mind.
Seeing an old friend.
Reading a book.
Trying a new recipe.
Organising digital photos and making albums.
Running in a charity event.
Taking up a daily meditation practice.
Fun stuff, dull stuff. Write it all down.
Now read through your list one by one, inserting each item into the blank below:
__________________________ is not important to me.
Say it out loud.
Seeing old friends is not important to me.
Organising my photos is not important to me.
Working out is not important to me.
As you say each one out loud, notice your internal reaction. Is it actually important to you? If it is, you won't like the sound of it when you say it.
Put a star next to the ones that actually are important to you.
These are the things you'll start making time for.
Once you begin creating space in your life for the things that are important to you, you'll be busy in a good way.
Sure you'll still have a lot of non negotiable busyness in your life that you can't drop. Meals still need to go on the table. Dirty clothes have to be washed. Work has to be done. But you'll find smarter, more efficient ways of doing what needs doing as you recognise your time sucks and realise what you can drop or do differently.
For the next few days keep a written log of what you do from dusk ‘til dawn and how long you spend doing it.
This little exercise will open your eyes to the disappearing act of time. You’ll start to see how a ‘couple minutes here’ and a ‘few minutes there’ add up.
You’ll also notice dead space time - like waiting for appointments or for kids to finish practice - and see opportunities to use this space for something meaningful. (Instead of checking social media or emails for the 20th time that day…)
Print out a week’s worth of Design My Day planners and plot out your 3 MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) and your scheduled events. There’s a place to jot down what you’ll take with you - a perfect time to think about packing that book you want to start, or headphones to listen to a training video you’ve been meaning to watch, or downloading a guided meditation app.
As you start to take control of your days you’ll find systems that work for you. Meal planning on a Sunday means you shop efficiently on a Monday and don’t have to buy more food mid-week. Plotting out a workout schedule means you’ll priorise it over something else that would have sucked up that time. Breaking a project down into smaller, easier steps means you stop procrastinating and start doing.
Being better organised and in control of your days gives you a feel-good buzz. It frees up mental headspace and leaves more room for connection to the world outside of your to-do list.
I do hope this helps your friend.
Kelly Pietrangeli is the creator of Project Me for Busy Mothers, helping women find a happier balance between the kids - and everything else. Mixing practicality with self-awareness, Kelly helps mothers get on top of their endless to-do’s, set goals and improve their lives one small step at a time. Grab her free Life Wheel Tool™ for discovering what needs your focus first.