Most of America and many other developed nations feel that being busy is a badge of honor.
We think gives us our worth.
I think the opposite.
I think that being busy can keep us from being who we TRULY are.
I think it gets in the way of doing the things that are the MOST important to us.
I think that WE use being busy as a way to protect ourselves from stepping out of our comfort zone into what we feel deep inside we ought to be doing — and I am not talking about all the nagging ‘shoulds’ that come from outside, but those things which we know we are ‘called’ to do.
Doing Good, or Doing the Best?
We’ve all heard the quote, “The good is the enemy of the best”. I am not saying that many of the things you are doing aren’t good things. They may even be GREAT things, but, they may not be the BEST THING for YOU at this point in your life. When busyness gets a hold of us, we become bound by our ‘shoulds’ and we cannot be at peace in our lives.
10 Ways to Stop being So Busy
- Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.
- Evaluate your commitments. Look at everything you’ve got going on in your life. Everything, from work to home to civic to kids’ activities to hobbies to side businesses to other projects. Think about which of these really gives you value, which ones you love doing. Which of these are in line with the 4-5 most important things you listed above? Drop those that aren’t in line with those things.
- Evaluate your time. How do you spend your day? What things do you do, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep? Make a list, and evaluate whether they’re in line with your priorities. If not, eliminate the things that aren’t, and focus on what’s important. Redesign your day.
- Simplify work tasks. Our work day is made up of an endless list of work tasks. If you simply try to knock off all the tasks on your to-do list, you’ll never get everything done, and worse yet, you’ll never get the important stuff done. Focus on the essential tasks and eliminate the rest.
- Simplify home tasks. Think about all the stuff you do at home. Sometimes our home task list is just as long as our work list. And we’ll never get that done either. So focus on the most important, and try to find ways to eliminate the other tasks (automate, eliminate, delegate, or hire help). Read my post 10 steps to clean your house fast
- Learn to say no. This is actually one of the key habits for those trying to simplify their lives. If you can’t say no, you will take on too much. Read my post on Learning to say NO.
- Limit your communications. Our lives these days are filled with a vast flow of communications: email, IM, cell phones, paper mail, Skype, Twitter, forums, and more. It can take up your whole day if you let it. Instead, put a limit on your communications: only do email at certain times of the day, for a certain number of minutes (I recommend twice a day, but do what works for you). Only do IM once a day, for a limited amount of time. Limit phone calls to certain times too. Same with any other communications. Set a schedule and stick to it.
- Limit your media consumption. This tip won’t be for everyone, so if media consumption is important to you, please skip it (as with any of the other tips). However, I believe that the media in our lives — TV, radio, Internet, magazines, etc. — can come to dominate our lives. Don’t let it. Simplify your life and your information consumption by limiting it.
- Purge your stuff. If you can devote a weekend to purging the stuff you don’t want, it feels seriously terrific. Get boxes and trash bags for the stuff you want to donate or toss. Read my post Does having less stuff make life easier?
- Do what you love. Once you’ve freed up some time, be sure to spend that extra time doing things you love. Go back to your list of 4-5 important things. Do those, and nothing else.
It will take time to implement these steps. They cannot be accomplished in a week, or even a month. I encourage you, however, if you find that you are not at peace with your level of busyness, that you go through this list, examine your heart, spend some time in meditation, and create an action plan for creating change in your life.
What are some things that you would like to change or possibly do away with in your life? Are there some things you would actually like to add?