Busyness is a common ailment today. In modern life, many people experience it as a nearly chronic condition. It is my observation that this busyness in turn contributes to a number of other dis-eases, such as stress, lack of self-awareness, disconnection from what is personally meaningful, less than optimal relationships, poor physical health, and more.
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
While identifying that you are too busy is an important step, working with only that information leaves a gap in understanding. Getting below the symptom—busyness—to the source or sources will help you set a plan for change that can address both the sources and symptom. Below are three questions to ask yourself when youre suffering from a common case of busyness (All ten questions are described in my book Live the Life You’ve Imagined: 100 Practical Strategies for Creating Your Ideal Life). As you read through the list, answer each question with “yes” or “no.” Then go back and consider your “yes” responses, and look more fully at the reasons for your affirmative answers. Then you can choose your remedy.
Do I have difficulty saying no?
If you tend to automatically say “yes” to requests made of you, you’re likely to end up with a chronic case of busyness. Certainly, the activities you say “yes” to may enrich your life or make it interesting. Unless you say “yes” because YOU want to, however, you’re living for someone else’s agenda. “No” is a great tonic for yes-induced busyness. “No” can help you set boundaries and establish your own priorities. Start a gentle practice of saying “no” to some of the requests that come into your life and see if some of your busyness begins to disappear.
Do I think I’m the only one who can handle certain tasks?
Aha, a case of self-imposed busyness here! When you rely solely on yourself to be the doer of all things, busyness is almost sure to be part of your life. While you may be a Jill of all trades or a modern-day superman, scattering your attention tends to dilute your effectiveness and may leave you worn out. Some methods for combating this do-it-all tendency include:
- Find a capable assistant who can follow your instructions.
- Delegate tasks at home and at work.
- Simplify your life so there’s less to handle in the first place.
- Prioritize your “to do list” and focus yourself on only the items that truly need your personal attention.
- Get a coach who will assist you in developing ways to fulfill your responsibilities without filling your life with busyness.
Do I procrastinate?
While haste can make waste, a habit of putting things off has the side effect of producing problems too. If you’re delaying starting or completing a project, figure out what’s holding you back. Are you concerned that you don’t have the skills or resources needed? If so, take the step of finding the tools or the person who can help you prepare for the task at hand. Are you ready, yet unsure of how or where to start? You can begin by writing down the steps to take from start to finish (that way you’ll be one step closer and you’ll have a plan to follow). Once you get into the project, you can reevaluate or change course as needed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project, break large goals into several smaller actions. By completing smaller tasks you’ll be making progress toward finishing the large goal. Your momentum will build and soon you’ll be full steam ahead, your bout of procrastination-prompted busyness a distant memory.
“A lot of our ‘busy-ness’ is a way for us to avoid thinking about what is most important. There’s a difference between being busy and being productive.”
~ Kristen Lippincott
If you’re struggling with “too much to do” in your life, consider a complimentary coaching session. I can help you diagnose your busyness and cure it for good.