Do you feel overwhelmed by your schedule? Running from dawn until midnight to activities and practices and volunteering and errands that never. ever. stop? “Stop being so busy,” everyone says. But how the heck are you supposed to do that when you’ve already committed to so much?!
Friend, I feel you! I work from 3:00pm to midnight, leaving me with tremendous guilt for not eating dinner with my family or putting my daughter to bed.
Where does that leave me? Waking up by 6:30am every morning to maximize my time with my family. So I act as my daughter’s primary caregiver from 6:30am to 2:30pm, then drive to work, then return home at 12:30am to log some quality time with my husband.
On top of that, I spend my lunches at work writing for this website and lead a ladies small group every other Friday. Those are only two extracurricular activities I’ve added to my plate, but some days? They feel like two too many.
And I used to feel extremely guilty about it. Because no, preschool teacher, I would not like to help out in the classroom. I need those few hours a week to maintain my sanity.
Sorry, church family, I would not like to log a couple of hours taking calls in the front office.
And no, work family, I would not like to coordinate that extra event outside of work hours.
And heck, no even to you, extended family. I would not like to host a big meal. What are your feelings on pizza?
But when I finally realized I couldn’t do it all, and so didn’t, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt more present and at peace in each moment, and had more time and energy to dedicate to the things that mattered most to me.
So how did I stop being so busy? And how can you? It all starts with establishing your personal priorities.
Stop Being So Busy By Committing to Your Priorities
- Establish your priorities. First things first, you have to determine what’s most important to you. Is it spending quality time with your family? Climbing the corporate ladder? Volunteering in your community? Reaching your goal weight? You’ll likely have multiple priorities. List every priority you can think of, then review the list and decide which three priorities are most important to you. Order them from most important to least. (Want some helping setting your priorities and goals? Then be sure to download our free goal setting workbook here!)
- Hold your existing commitments (extracurricular activities, school and community events, volunteer opportunities, etc.) up to your top priorities. Mercilessly cut any that (a) don’t align with your priorities and (b) are unnecessary. I mean, paying taxes doesn’t align with my priorities, but it’s a legal requirement. Know what’s not? Volunteering for anything and everything because no one else will step up to the plate. It’s a noble gesture for certain. But if your top priority is to spend more time with your family, and you’re logging 15 primetime family hours a week into an activity that didn’t make the top three cut, it may be time to rethink your involvement.
- Hold potential commitments up to your top priorities. When considering taking on new commitments, ask yourself if they align with those top three priorities. Will they advance you in those areas, or just use up precious time and energy that would be better spent elsewhere? I was born a people pleaser, so I get it! I really do! They need help, you technically have time, and you hate saying no. But just because you have an open space on your calendar, doesn’t mean you have time to spare. You have limited time, energy, and other resources. Spend them on what matters most to you.
Stop Being So Busy By Recognizing and Limiting Time Sucks
- Take stock of exactly where you’re losing time. Have you ever used the Screen Time feature on your iPhone? It tracks how much time you spend daily on apps, websites, and more, and is eye-opening at best, depressing at worst. I thought I was just jumping on Facebook a few minutes a day. But it turned out all the scattered minutes of checking my phone here and there added up to a part-time job by the end of the week! If you don’t have an iPhone, you can also check screen usage on your Android device using apps like QualityTime – My Digital Diet and RescueTime Time Management and Digital Wellness. Despite its usefulness, you don’t necessarily need an app to point out where you’re losing time. Use a clock! Take note of what time you sit down in front of the tv, computer, or other activity, and what time you get back up. Studies have shown the average person loses two hours a day to social media apps and five hours a day in front of the tv. That adds up to 49 hours a week sitting (usually) mindlessly in front of a screen! Just becoming aware of where your time is going can often be the catalyst you need to be more mindful about where you’re spending it.
- Set specific times to engage in certain activities. Now I’m not saying to delete Facebook completely! Or to remove the tv from your living room like an HGTV designer. I’m saying to decide how long you’re going to spend on those devices before your day begins, and especially before you turn them on. For example, maybe you’re going to watch two hours of tv after dinner every night…or scroll your Facebook newsfeed for 30 minutes over your lunch. Outside of the times you’ve set, resist those activities in favor of more productive and/or meaningful ones.
Stop Being So Busy By Eliminating Multitasking
- Turn off all badges. You know the biggest temptation you’ll encounter after deciding you’re only going to scroll Facebook over lunch? Seeing that red badge counter go up and wondering who liked or commented on your photos. That’s why I turn off most badges on my phone – social media, email, convenience apps – really everything but phone calls and texts. Not only do those badges tempt you to invest more time in your phone, but they also act as a serious and consistent distraction from whatever else you’re doing. When you’re pausing your current activity a hundred times to check your phone, you’re sacrificing your ability to be present and 100% invested in the moment you’re in.
- Stop multitasking! This seems a little counterintuitive, right? Why not kill two birds with one stone and free up more time? Well, because research has shown time and again that not only is multitasking not productive, it’s actually less productive and more time-consuming than just accomplishing each task one at a time. Not to mention it’s stressful to try to cook dinner while putting away dishes while helping your kid with their homework. So decide which task is most important, pay it your full attention until it’s complete, then move on to the next task.
Pass Down the Favor
- Don’t be afraid to limit your children to just one or two activities at a time. Oh boy, this topic deserves its own post! Kids today are pressured from every side to not only join the school soccer team, but also a club team…year-round…in additional to band and theater and math club and youth groups and more! Is it any wonder anxiety and depression are so prevalent amongst high schoolers, and even middle schoolers, today? Help your kids to set their own priorities and adjust their schedules accordingly. Yes, they might miss out on participating in every single activity their friends are in. But if we teach them to avoid burning the candle at both ends now, they’ll have a real chance to grow into less busy, more peaceful and centered adults.
Wrap It Up
You are not destined to a lifetime of running yourself ragged. At least, you don’t have to be!
By committing to your priorities, limiting time sucks, and eliminating multitasking, you can stop being so busy today. And friend, I really hope you do!
P.S. Ready to escape survival mode? The Take Charge Collection of 15 free resources will help you to simplify, organize, and take charge of your life! Nab yours free here.
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