Busy. That is the word of the moment. Too busy to stop. Too busy to chat. Too busy to make time for the people you love or yourself. But why? What the hell are we doing to feel so busy all the time?
I'm confident you've asked yourself that question. I bet you and your friends have all sat around and said repeatedly, “What has changed to make life feel like this?” I know I have.
Whilst I don’t believe there's a quick fix, what I’ve realised is that it all comes down to our appreciation of time. It's our most valuable resource and yet we all spend it without a moment’s thought. Despite knowing deep down that we will never get that time back.
No one is going to change things for us. We need to be the ones who say enough is enough. We need to take responsibility for how we spend this irreplaceable currency.
Time = Value
When you allocate time to something, you are demonstrating that you value it. The more time you spend on it, the more you presumably value it, right? In that same vein, what message are you giving when you say you are too busy to make time for someone?
The first COVID-19 lockdown was an incredibly stressful and worrying time for all of us, but it also gave many of us a much needed pause. A short period in which we simply couldn’t be ‘too busy’. There were no more 10 hours of kid’s sports clubs each day at the weekend, no more rushing around trying to do everything in your lunchbreak and no more feeling guilty for not seeing people. You couldn’t. Sorry; not allowed.
Please don’t think I'm being flippant. I can’t imagine what a difficult and
unimaginably stressful experience it was for our key workers and especially those on the front line every day. We should all be ever grateful for their continuous hard work and sacrifice.
What I'm saying is that before we continue our rush back to ‘normal’, we should take time to stop and consider which bits of ‘normal’ are worth rushing back to.
If you enjoyed spending more time with your family during lockdown (at least the non-home schooling bits 😊); how can you make time for that now as we start to get back to more typical work patterns? If you enjoyed having more time to yourself; when are you going to prioritise yourself now?
Feeling autonomous control of your life is a huge part of wellbeing psychology (see Deci & Ryan’s Self-determination Theory) and, along with relatedness and competence, contributes to how satisfied we are with our lives.
With that in mind, it is important to overcome the victim mentality in which we sometimes blame life for making us too busy. Instead, we should turn our attention inward and ask challenging questions of ourselves to uncover why we allow ourselves to become busy.
So, before we enter the typically manic rush at the end of the year, stop and reflect on how you spend your time. Notice when you feel busy and try to catch yourself when you tell people you are busy.
Ask yourself; Do I feel in control of my time? What do I honestly spend my time doing? Am I choosing to do too many things? Or, am I letting others control my time? What do I want to make more time for?
Each week mindfully allocate your time to the things that bring you joy and give your life meaning. Plan in periods of time in which you can relax or work on personal or family goals.
Try also to allocate time for ‘unexpected things’ that seem so often to appear. If something doesn’t come up, then you have time to read another chapter or get outside for some exercise.
Most importantly, stop telling people you are busy and take control.
After all, time is limited. Spend it wisely.
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