Photo by Vadim Pacev
“It is not enough if you are busy.
The question is, ‘what are you busy about?’”
~Henry David Thoreau
Do you find that there is just not enough time to get everything done?
How many times a day do you usually use the word busy? I often catch myself busy working, cleaning dishes, cooking meals, doing laundry, catching up on the email, running errands and so on.
Our modern lifestyle creates time famine that we are forced to live with; there seems to be never enough time for anything. Even if we manage to get most of our tasks and responsibilities done, our personal time and time with our loved ones suffer.
Just the other day I was doing my house chores in the evening. One of my three-year-old daughters came up to me and wanted to play. By habit I told her that “mama was busy” and this is when it hit me.
How can I be too busy for my child? Is it really important whether the laundry is done if my child does not get enough attention from me? Does it really matter how many articles I publish on my blog if I miss precious moments with my little girls?
This situation made me realize that I was suffering from “time and intimacy famine” – the dis-ease where we feel that there is not enough time to do everything, and in the result of trying to “catch up”, we miss out on previous intimate moments with the people who matter the most to us.
We jump from one thing to the next one and completely lose the present moment. Just recently Tina wrote about her experience on the topic in Stop Chasing Start Living and it triggered a few reflective moments in me.
Problem with Staying Busy
I think that staying busy has become one of the social norms in modern world. Many people enter a race of “Who can be the busiest today?” Our kids are busy with all possible after-school activities. We take on social commitments and new tasks just to cram more accomplishments in our day.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we accomplish and how busy we remain, we do not experience happiness or joy because of this. It fills us up with inner emptiness. It drains us and we lose connection with the things that really matter.
How to Overcome the Not Enough Time Illusion
I have been following a few strategies lately that helped me better control my time and take productive steps toward overcoming the pressure to chase the next moment caused by the ‘Not Enough Time’ illusion. I list them as follows:
1. Treasure Your Time
Time is a valuable resource that we do not have to spend all at once. Let’s imagine that you inherited a huge amount of money. Would you go out and spend every bit of it immediately? Sure, you can do it but a wiser decision would be to spend some, invest some, save some. Our time is much more valuable than money (because once it’s gone you can never earn it back); then why do we constantly waste it?
If you have extra 5 or 10 minutes during the day, just enjoy them. There is no need to water the plants, file your nails or call to schedule an appointment just to become more efficient and productive. These extra few minutes have a wonderful purpose in your life—they are to be savored and enjoyed in silence, in deep thoughts or with your loved ones.
2. Stop Getting Things Done
There is nothing wrong with being productive but it is unhealthy to make productivity the sole purpose of your life. There might be times during the day when you need to be efficient (at work, while running errands, doing housework etc.) but there are also times when you need to relax. Be as diligent about your rest time as you are about your work hours.
3. Leave Your Job at Work
Job takes a big part of our lives and sometimes it is difficult to turn off your work mode. It gets even more difficult if you work from home because technically you are always in your work place.
While I am not a big fan of the term “work life balance” I think that work rest balance definitely deserves your attention. I can talk for hours about why it is important to forget about your work while you are resting, but deep down you do not need any convincing. You are the person who will benefit the most from this change and only you are able to make this decision your personal priority.
4. Simplify Your Commitments
Frequently enough we take on too many responsibilities that completely clutter our day. Distinguish between tasks that are truly important to you (because they are a necessity or because you truly enjoy these activities) and get rid of all the clutter. Do you really have to go to your colleague’s party? Do you really enjoy this TV show that much? You get the idea.
5. Discover Who You Are
A lot of times we stay busy because of fear. We are afraid of down time because we are afraid to discover who we are.
Instead of really getting to know ourselves, discovering our passions, developing our potential we hide behind a busy schedule. Sometimes we stay busy to cover up some painful memories or emotions that we feel we can’t deal with.
This no-conflict strategy is emptying your inner well; it drains your energy and robs you of happy and joyful living. Schedule some time for yourself: meditate, pray, write in a journal or just dive deeply into your thoughts.
6. Simplify Your Information Streams
How many books are you reading right now? Chances are that you are reading a few regular books, following regular updates on a few blogs and reading an eBook or two all at the same time. I am not even mentioning news, TV shows, magazines and newspapers that are a staple in almost every house.
There is too much information available to us right now. This information takes time and energy; in fact it takes over our lives. We can be watching TV, looking through a magazine and trying to play with our kids at the same time. As a result you get a headache from the noise, you get no value from the magazine and you get upset at your kids because they start whining and complaining.
Instead try to read fewer books and follow fewer blogs. Look through the news headlines on the Internet and read only what is relevant to you. Spend your time only on the information that truly benefits you and enriches your life.
7. Gift Yourself A Day
If you are a religious person you can use this time for spiritual matters. If you are not religious you can spend time with your family, read all day, go on a hike, goof off, try new recipes or enjoy any other hobby.
It does not matter what you are doing. Just don’t work. It will be the biggest nourishment for your starving mind and even body.
Parting Words on ‘Not Enough Time’
The illusion that there is not enough time is just that: an illusion. You can overcome this idea and this internal drive towards chasing the next moment under the excuse of “I’m busy” by slowing down.
While you cannot control everything in this world you definitely can control your time and how you spend it. Enjoy it. Treasure it. Spend it on what really matters and be happy.
**If you had all the time in the world, what would you be doing? :)
Consider doing that. What activities can you do (or not do) to feel more relaxed and calm? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section. See you there!
About the Author
Anastasiya is the author behind the Balance In Me blog – a place for people interested in practical life balance strategies. She is passionate about helping people find their balance in different areas of life: work, family, health, lifestyle, spirituality and others. She also a runs virtual Life Balance Retreats for people interested in making lasting changes in their lives.
- Book: The Power of Now
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