The blueprint for our lives today often looks like this:
- Start your day thinking about all the tasks you need to accomplish in the 14-16 hours ahead of you.
- Fill your day with attempting to cross everything off your to-do list, while feeling inadequate, because there’s too much to do and not enough time.
- End your day feeling overwhelmed and full of anxiety over all that you did not get accomplished today because you were so busy doing everything else.
- Repeat daily.
I often have this thought: I am overwhelmingly busy, but let me take on just one more thing because the more I do, the better I’ll appear. Being busy tends to be a badge of honor. You’re “killing it” if you’re always busy.
Society tends to glorify having an overflowing workload. It is not glamorous to run around on a daily basis full of anxiety and angst, with a fake smile on your face while attempting to tackle a to-do list that is 3 miles long. At the end of the day, when we tuck our energy-depleted selves into bed, our minds are still going… thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list, fretting over the items on today’s to-do list that did not get crossed off, and feeling a sense of failure because of not getting those things done. Busy is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
I regularly have to re-evaluate my busy-ness to ensure that I’m not wasting my time in an effort to appear like I’m doing it all, for the sake of receiving the so-called “compliment” of… “Wow, you’re so busy, how do you do it all?” This should absolutely not be a compliment we strive for. In fact, the busier I am, the less work I actually get done. So, if I appear to be “doing it all”, I assure you that I am not.
Some days, I find myself so overwhelmed with the day ahead of me, that I just don’t get anything done at all. I start to think about my to-do list all at once, my mind starts spinning, and I get paralyzed by the amount of work in front of me. In an attempt to not think about all the things I need to do, I distract myself – Facebook, Instagram, Blogs, YouTube – which snowballs into not getting anything done. Before I know it, hours have gone by and I have not done a damn thing.
In analyzing this perceived laziness, I have realized that it’s not real laziness at all… it’s actually full on anxiety due to an overwhelming workload.
In an attempt to combat workload paralysis, I have re-evaluated my to-do lists by prioritizing what actually needs to be done. I don’t even entertain the idea of adding frivolous things to my list for the sole purpose of appearing “busy”. You wouldn’t believe how much shorter my lists are. I have also made sure to include down time each and every morning, for myself – I wake up an hour before the kids, sit in silence, cozy up with a blanket and my coffee, and write. I refuse to waste my time on anything that just makes me appear busy. Knowing my tasks ahead of me are serving a true purpose makes it easier to not get sucked in to the vicious workload paralysis cycle.
I spend less time ensuring the house is spotless and more time listening to my kids. I spend less time being the homework cop and more time encouraging my kids to work independently and teaching them to take responsibility for forgotten assignments. I spend less time surfing the web and more time writing. I spend less time primping myself and more time studying for important exams.
In this re-evaluation, I have summoned up a sort of anti-busy life. While I am certainly busy and I do have my overwhelmingly chaotic days, for the most part I feel fluid, focused, and less anxiety-ridden, making me not feel so busy. I actually get more done and I’m focused on each task at hand because my mind isn’t filled with thoughts about my never-ending to-do list.
By only doing what’s important to me, saying no to everything else, and always including time for myself, I have been able to pursue and accomplish things that truly matter to me.