Monday, June 30, 2014 at 3:53PM
Busyness. Being Busy…it is something we all talk about (a lot), often the reason (excuse) for our failure to connect with friends/relatives, clean our house, workout, or paint our fingernails. It’s a fact of the modern world, right? We need yoga (if we can manage to get to a class) because we are all juggling one hundred different things, traveling in just as many directions, “multi-tasking” till we plop in front of the TV, exhausted, wine in hand, committing to ourselves that TOMORROW or NEXT WEEK we will slow down and get back to those very important things we know we should prioritize.
I have some theories from where this need to be busy stems…maybe it is our sub-conscious desires to avoid responsibility, to feel needed and accomplished, to feel purposeful and important. Whatever the root is, I want to tell you, it’s probably not as much out of your control as you think. What I mean is, most of us don’t need to be as busy as we are. At this point in my life, I find myself wondering, as someone exasperatedly sighs as they regale their very busy weekend, full of social events and commitments, running from place to place, commenting on how draining it was and how the children are now spent…what’s that all about? Then DO LESS!
I realize that’s easy to say, but honestly, it’s that easy to do. I used to be a busy person. I didn’t like it. Or well, I guess realized I didn’t need all that motion and chaos in my life, and it certainly wasn’t serving my intention to live in a way that aligns with my priorities. So a few years ago I started, a little at a time, doing less. And it turns out that just like any other habit, I could let busyness fade without much discomfort. With great reward.
People tell me I’m “so laid back” all the time—that’s not it exactly. Trust me, I have my control issues like everyone else and committing myself to become non-busy (less busy) took as much thought and deliberation as any other part of my yogic practice of life.
At first it was allowing the occasional email, text, or phone call to go un-answered. That felt uncomfortable but eventually became very liberating. “Oh! They can wait for me! They will still be there, happy to tell/ask me whatever it was when I get a chance to talk!” Amazing! I realized I could go through an entire shopping trip with my phone IN THE CAR! I could leave the phone in my purse during a whole dinner and experience neither pain nor panic. It was gradual, but didn’t take long. I went from feeling like I couldn’t ignore call-waiting to the point where I’ll happily admit to you as of this moment I have 7 missed texts, 9 voice mails, 669 unopened emails, and a stack of mail about a foot high (hiding in a basket). Am I saying I don’t occasionally look a little flakey? No! But am I worried about that? Uh, nope. Minutes and minutes and minutes of my life came back to me like a present.
Then I graduated to offering less. (I found I have a natural gift for this one). Want to be less busy? Stop offering to volunteer, help out, give advice, host, plan, etc. Be a very true and honest listener and keep your desire to “save” others in check! I realized that if I just placed trust in others to figure things out for themselves, they did! I wasn’t as essential a part of every person’s problem-solving as I thought! This dumped a huge wad of emotional energy in my lap. Giving myself permission to do what was kind for me over what I felt was kind for another was a hard one. I still need to remind myself that kindness has no scale—whether it’s to me or to another person, sincere kindness all weighs the same. I now frequently choose to protect my own energy and hold back from “helping” those around me. I have time to consider my own needs, meet those needs, and then—more sincerely, more enthusiastically—I can meet the needs of others. I’m not saying I don’t fall back into the draw of making another person happy. Ooooh that’s my sugar! But I can acknowledge it’s now in check.
Then came another step…accept less. This one can feel wrong too, I know. We all want to feel “popular” and well-liked. It is nice to be invited to things! But who says just because you’re asked to go to the zoo, meet for coffee, have a play date, or attend a birthday dinner that you have to go? What if you’d rather stay home with the kids and play a game? Or go get your nails done by yourself!? The key to making this habit is by hesitating. Time is your friend! Instead of always jumping to “yes! Okay! Sounds great!” pause and give yourself permission to really consider if you WANT or NEED that outing/commitment/person in your life. The next time someone tries to lock you into a date/time, try this: “I will check my calendar and let you know.” Then, in a reasonable amount of time, do just that. If you truly don’t want to go, decline the invitation. This is a GIFT. You quickly learn who your true friends are because, like you, they have trust in your relationship and your common love and affection for each other: they can trust that you’d be there if you could. You generously offer them the same deal. Be here if you can be, if it makes sense for you and your family. It makes all of your interactions with others SINCERE: the time you do spend with friends and family becomes that much sweeter because you are fully present! This is a two-for. You end up with a smaller circle of friends, but it’s a loving and non-pressure kind of circle with little or no drama. Less running around and less drama? Personally, I’ll pick that every time!
Finally…I had to let dumb stuff go. For me, this meant buh-bye to all things celebrity-related, most fashion magazines, space-out tv shows, and ‘wasting’ time perusing facebook, taking worthless quizzes, or reading salacious articles. Relaxation is different languishing in the land of lazy. If I’m tired, I own it and lie down with a book or just belly gaze. If I go to bed an hour early, I can get up an hour early—know what that gives me? Precious time. I also had to let go of mentally obsessing about things out of my control—other people’s reactions/emotions, deadlines in general, my choices’ affects on others. These may seem like big sacrifices, but I don’t miss them…much! (it helps if you have a friend/sibling who keeps you up to date during your high quality visits! ;) haha)
These methods have worked for me—I can honestly say I have time for what I want to have time for. I don’t blame my schedule for what I’m not doing: I regularly consider how I’ve been prioritizing my time and act accordingly, adding and subtracting what is necessary to find a better balance. Some weeks are better than others, but I’ve also relinquished my need to obsess about that (more time! Yay!).
Here is a great exercise to help. What are your priorities? Seriously?
Why are you so dang BUSY all the time!?
Take a moment and list the Top 5 Priorities in your life.
My list looked like this:
-Myself: growth, spirit, happiness, quality time, practice/meditation for myself
-My family (immediate and extended): growth, spirit, happiness, quality time
-My work: integrity, inspiration, sharing my knowledge, teaching, growing
-My friends: staying connected, spending time
-Enjoyment of the world: reading, educating myself, exploring, remaining curious, traveling, eating, having FUN!
Now pause and think back to the past week (or two). List the Top 5 Things You Spent the Most Time and Energy On.
Here are mine (in order of time spent):
-My dwelling: cleaning/organizing house, thinking about/being frustrated with projects
-Cooking & doing laundry for, and actually spending quality time with my kids & husband
-quality social time with friends and family, it was a good week actually! I had a dinner with Fuch, and saw three close friends in addition to fun times with mine and my husband’s family.
-teaching or researching for students, practicing for classes
- picking up after, driving, and running errands for aforementioned lovely children
When doing this most of us will notice a gap between what we mentally hold to be of upmost importance, and what actually wins our attention. I now know my busyness has nothing to do with how much is on my plate, and everything to do with what I can’t let go of. I can see that last week I didn’t make enough time for myself—and I feel that as fatigue this Monday morning. I let little issues around the house distract me from quality resting and meditation. In my time with friends and family, I totally fulfilled my priority of ENJOYMENT of the world and overall feel pretty good about where I ended up. A few years ago that list would have been much more distorted—full of chasing, calling, worrying, and fixing.
I offer all of this merely as a question to you: Why are you so busy, man!? Maybe you love it, maybe you feel like your head is going to explode. Ask yourself what you’re living for. Are you representing what is truly important to you with your daily choices? If not, set your priorities and try to reduce some of the busyness in your life! I still manage to have friends, play on facebook, get my work done…eventually I open my mail! Trust me, while I am no where near perfect, I have found it is possible to feel relaxed and calm and still have a big family with all its commitments, a social life (albeit modified), a job, an inspiration, and lots of fun! I’m interested to hear about your journey! Share with me what you discover as well as any tricks you have for managing the business of being BUSY in your life!
Busy or not, I have nothing but love for you! Namaste’ my friends!