The glorification of busy is a topic that has been near and dear to my heart lately. There is a growing trend that suggests that our success and worth are linked to how busy we are. When asked How are you today? our response isn’t “I’m fantastic” or “wonderful” it is often “I am so crazy busy right now” or “just trying to keep up.”
As I spent 14 minutes of broken up time watching sociologist Christine Carter give an outstanding talk about finding our sweet spot in The Antidote to Cognitive Overload I realized how painfully true this is. Sitting down to watch the short talk I had interruptions by my cat, my husband, my washing machine and my phone. The irony of this is not lost on me. 14 minutes isn’t a long time but somehow it is difficult to do a single task to which I give my sole attention.
As I started to research this topic I found there are a large number of bloggers that have written about the subject of busyness. One writer even went as far as to say that “Busy Is a Sickness.” Are we responsible for the self creation of some of our own stress? Busyness is not a badge of honor, not something we should be proud of or try to out do our neighbour with. Busyness has become somewhat of an epidemic, a negative social phenomenon that we accept as normal.
Tips for managing busyness
The first tip which I love, kept coming up in different blogs. Create a STOP Doing List. We are already busy why keep things in our life that aren’t working or are not significant to us. Let them go. Take a look at Danielle LaPorte’s What’s on your stop doing list? for ideas on how to create a list that is right for you.
Stopping = More time for what matters most
Contrary to the belief many of us have, we are not more productive when we do too many things at once. Single-tasking Is the New Multitasking suggests participating in Tabless Thursdays. It made me smile when he said “Tabs are a metaphor for life.” It seems like we constantly run too many tabs at once. Research suggests that multi tasking can not only be detrimental to your career but may also damage your brain. So slow down, do one thing at a time and you will likely find that you get more things done.
Many of us may find this suggestion a bit difficult. We tend to be attached to our smart phones and tablets. Even tropical resorts boast that they have free “wifi” access so we can stay connected on our vacation. You can start slow with maybe a technology free evening but you can work your way up to “business hours” only or maybe even leave your technology home on your next vacation. Unplugging means we get to slow down and enjoy a book, a board game or maybe just sit and talk to our friends and family without digital distraction. By unplugging you will find yourself with more in your life not less.
Schedule time to do nothing
This time could be used to be mindful or just sit and be. Doing nothing can nurture our soul. Sometimes nothing can turn into something like meditation, yoga, a hot bath or maybe a chat with an old friend. In an article by tiny buddha, How Doing Nothing Helps You Get More Done they point out that we are sometimes busy worrying and take no time to enjoy pleasure. Enjoying can recharge us and motivate us and we can get more done after we have taken a break to do nothing. Think of it as an adult recess!
The most important of all these strategies is to choose yourself. Nurture yourself by following the above tips and becoming a less busy you.
We hear the phrase mindfulness used a lot these days. In counselling we find our clients often struggle living in the past and worrying about the future. We occupy our minds with thoughts and many of them can be negative. What might happen if we were mindful and present living each day with awareness, purpose and without judgement?
In an article by Chad Renando, Mindfulness Defined he talks about a phenomenon he calls the $20 Snickers bar. After reading this I realized how much I related to what he had to say. The idea of buying a chocolate bar with a $20 bill and getting change for the bill. Once that bill is broken down it seems like we have more money and for some reason we spend it more easily. Ask us what we spent that twenty on and we’ll likely wonder where it all went. The author points out that our attention works similarly. We start off being attentive, ready to face the world but there are demands throughout the day for our attention. It becomes fractured and we pay it out like the twenty until we have nothing left. We end our day feeling tired, irritable and likely somewhat exhausted. What if we instead start our day with purpose and intent , making choices about where to focus our attentions? Harnessing our attention and energy, getting to decide how we spend it.
The key is slowing down. This seems counterintuitive to what we think we should be doing. In our fast paced society we need to take time for ourselves and recharge from our busy lives. Time magazine’s, The Mindful Revolution suggests that “finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently.” We are busy, hyperconnected and overscheduled. Stopping to just be and stepping back from all those whirling thoughts can transform your life.
Recently a local big box store had a shipment of adult coloring books that were based on mindful stress reduction. They sold out immediately and now local book stores are finding it hard to keep them in stock. The trend is for adults to pick up those crayons or colored pencils and relax and be creative. Coloring books for adults…who would have thought that would be therapeutic? I must say I have tried them myself and it stills the mind, slows things down and it really is fun. Still not convinced, read Adult Coloring Books are the New Mindfulness.
All It Takes Is 10 minutes, is aTed Talk with Andy Puddicome that suggests that 10 minutes is all you need to get calm and clarity in your life. There are many resources available these days to help get you started. If you use technology there are some free mindfulness apps that you might want to take a look at. Website Mindful.Org has videos and articles that cover areas such as mindfulness at work and mindful eating. Life Hack has a Mindfulness Meditation Mini Guide for those new to meditation. On our Lidkea Stob Pinterest board you will also find a Mindfulness and a meditation board with articles and videos. So take a deep breath, grab a tea and think about how you might use these tools to be more mindful in your life. I suspect you will be glad you did.