BY DR. LISA GOODMAN, DC, CCSP, CACCP
“If you want something done, give it to a busy person. The more things you do, the more things you can do,” a quote by Lucille Ball. As a mom, small business owner, doctor, wife, friend, daughter, community member and philanthropist I know what it means to be busy. And as such, I have seen firsthand that the more I have going on, the more efficient and productive I am…until I’m not.
Many successful, hard working people thrive on being busy. It tends to make you feel accomplished. Whether your job IS your home or is outside your home, there is no shortage of small or large responsibilities we all get drawn into. At some point it will be too much. When you are losing sleep, missing deadlines, missing kids’ sports, plays or events, forgetting birthdays or anniversaries, you may have become a victim of your own ambition. You may be too busy. Check out these tips for becoming more un-busy.
Put the Device Down
Those of us who have always been great at ‘multitasking’ are finding ourselves in an entirely new landscape over the last 15 years. It used to be a lot easier to leave work at work and to leave all communication to in person or over the phone. Not anymore. Now we are checking and responding to work emails 18-24 hours daily, we are receiving texts and social media updates around the clock. We are reading with our children and checking our phone. We are at Wash Park with our dogs and checking our phone. We are at an anniversary dinner and checking our phone. If you can, figure out a way to do a digital detox. We put our kids on device time-outs, probably a good idea to put in some self-imposed downtime as well.
It is so easy, just say ‘no’. Will you volunteer at field day? No. Can you fly to NY this week? No. Will you join this committee? No. Can we stay with you next weekend? No. Will you email me by 5pm? No. Will you text me back? No. The truth is, we can’t just say no. We have a long list of very important decisions to make on any given day. Choices involving family, work, social life, etc., and you will not want to say no to all of these opportunities. But choose wisely.
Listen to your gut – say no if it feels right to you.
Ask yourself if saying yes will make you feel good. Are you saying yes because it is something you want to do or something you feel you have to do?
Is saying yes important for the greater good? Make room in your life to give back. Make sure that giving back serves your soul as well.
When we find ourselves with too much on our plate to pay attention to the most important things it is time to find help. That might be at work or at home. Don’t take it all on, most likely there is someone in the room with you right now (or a text message away) who would gladly help you if you ask.
It may sound counterproductive, but slowing down and taking a step back to see the forest for the trees will help you become less busy. Sometimes we are so under stress about how much we have to do, that we don’t know where to begin. Put down your laptop, take a step back, grab a large sheet of drawing paper and a sharpie. Brainstorm everything you have on your list, every possible thing you can think of. Then with another color label the items that you could use help with (ie. delegate). Circle the items that need attention today or tomorrow. Hang the list up on the back of a door so you can reference it but not stare at it all day. Check back a few days later and see how you are doing.
Un-busy your kids
Not to add another task to your list, but consider whether your children might also be a bit overloaded. We live in a wonderful, abundant, beautiful community that offers endless opportunities for our children to grow, explore and learn. Pay attention to your kids, check in with them about what they have going on. Is it too much? Are sports, school, family and social life draining them? Are they getting enough sleep, finishing their homework, having down time? Check in to see if they have the balance we all wish for ourselves.
I’m still busy, now what?
If taking a look at what is on your current list is not helping you get less busy, then you may have to let go of some big stuff. Ongoing commitments might need to be dropped. Evaluate your current job, your school commitments, social obligations and determine if there is one or more recurring undertakings that you no longer enjoy or could do without. Let it go.
Be a Good Example & Be Present
Once you step back, slow down and unplug, you can be more present in life. Spend time with your kids, your parents, your friends and spouse. Be present and engage with the people around you. It’s often brilliant and amazing to hear a child’s perspective on life as it is. Even more valuable is a long, wonderful conversation with a grandparent or senior. Slowing down and thinking for a few minutes what ‘busy’ might have been like decades ago puts things in perspective.