02 April, 2012

On Being Too Busy


Joanna of A Cup of Jo published an insightful post last week in which she quoted from this Wall Street Journal Article which discusses the concept of "being busy". 

Though some of you may have already read this, I'm sharing this again because the concept of managing time is one which I'm sure we could all use a little insight on. 

Change your language. Instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "it's not a priority," and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. Try it: "I'm not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it's not a priority." "I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority." If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.

This year has been a particularly busy one - from intense research tasks, to formulating my thesis proposal, to "wifely" duties around the home, to travel on a monthly basis (which I would NEVER complain about) - many things in my life have fallen to the wayside, and they are important things. Keeping in touch with friends and relatives abroad, writing in my journal (or blogging for that matter), organizational tasks which have been on my "to-do" list for ages, projects started and left undone. 

I've noticed I frequently complain about how busy I am, or how stressed, how overwhelmed. And while I truly AM busy and overwhelmed, giving in to these feelings and using them as an excuse to neglect other tasks is only detrimental. 

Rather than prioritizing everything, I've simply focused on the largest tasks and let most everything else fall to the wayside, using "I'm too busy" as an excuse. 

Being "busy" and "starved for time" is a way to show we matter. Put another way, it makes us feel important. But if you think about it, complaining about a lengthy to-do list is not only boring, it's a sad hook for one's self-esteem. Owning up to how we spend our hours gives us more control of our time, and ultimately, of our lives.

Though I don't plan on making a "time log", as the article suggests, I will be honest with myself about where my time is going, and I will change my language to reflect what I REALLY can or cannot handle.  Though, naturally, some things in life will take priority at others during various stages, I don't want to forget the significance of those things, nor to erase them from my agenda because of a false sense of time. 

Yes, I am busy. But I am not too busy. 


fifth floor apartment said...

i struggle with the concept of being busy as well. because in some ways i am--i have 200-300 pages of reading to accomplish each week, along with weekly papers in two of my classes, plus work + friends + not letting my apartment become a complete disaster. but i never miss a penguins game, or an episode of parks & rec, and i manage to make it to the grocery store. so maybe the fact that i have like ten loads of laundry waiting isn't because i'm busy...it's because it's not how i want to spend my time when it is legitimately limited. hmm.

sorry about the long comment! this post really got me thinking :)

xo alison

Inga said...

Ohh this is so true. Thank you!