Busy. It is a word we have become accustomed to using when greeting an old friend, talking to a colleague, or explaining why we were unable to make it to an important event. “I am keeping busy”, “I am so busy”, “I am too busy”. Whether we use this word in a way to explain our lives in a nutshell, or a way to negate reasons for procrastinating, everyone understands the word because we all use it so often, and feel it more importantly.
The issue with using this word is that it makes you feel busy to say you are busy, but it is all about choices. You choose to be busy whether you like it or not. Everything that comes across us is processed, and a choice is made to act or ignore the task. So just like tasks that come across us, busy does too. In our society, we have a need to be busy. If we are not busy, we feel like we should be, or someone will make sure we are. In reality, we are only as busy as we choose to be. The ironic part is that as much as we crave to be busy, we all want to be less busy at the same time.
I began to notice I would use this “B word” much too often, and I kept looking for answers to make myself less busy. I wanted to be more productive and feel like I had more time. I read books on productivity like David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (this is a great book on productivity, and I still encourage you to give it a read), listened to podcasts, and tried planning my day in different ways. This helped me to become more productive and organized, but that feeling of busy kept coming back to me, into my vocabulary, and I would still feel busy even though I was getting more done.
To fix my issue, I decided I would just stop using the word. I would strike it from my vocabulary and never look back. And it worked! I find myself more relaxed, focused on tasks, and when people ask me “What’s new?” I actually tell them something that is new, or at least will not use the go to “I’m keeping busy”. I also am doing more, technically making me busier, yet I don’t feel this way.
I am now getting up at 5 am, writing every day, reading, meditating, writing in a daily journal, and doing a 5 minute exercise, all before I step out the door for work. When at work, I plan my day before it begins, ignore my emails until lunch time (a trick to keep myself on my time and not someone else’s time), and plan any spare time to keep me focused. Before I go home, I make sure to have my next day planned, send any emails that need to be sent, and tidy me desk. Consciously focusing my time has allowed me to become more productive, while also becoming relaxed. I make sure to tell myself that everything I am doing is a choice, which helps keep my focus.
This is all a quick overview of my day, and things do get in the way, but the main component I am noticing is that I took one simple word out of my vocabulary. Do I get overwhelmed? Of course. But I am able to handle situations as they arise much better, knowing everything is a choice I am deciding to make, and I can choose not to be overwhelmed. Are there things I do not get to in the day? Yes, and I make sure I note this in my day planner so I can focus on these tasks the next day, or when I have spare time in my week. There is just one rule to this idea I have- STOP USING THE B WORD!
We are in a society that is constantly on the go, and busy is part of the day to day of western culture. We try to jam 30 hours into a 24 hour day, and that does not work. This is an issue in itself, but another is how we perceive our time and the situations that come into our focus. If we always see ourselves as busy, then that is what we will be. On the other hand, if we see our lives as relaxed, or even just flowing in a nice way, calmness begins to take hold in our minds. Striking busy from my vocabulary was only one step to bringing calm into my life, but once I did, I began to see my days in a more relaxed way.