4 reasons why ‘busy’ is off my list…..

I have thought about this for some time and wanted to share with you for some time but had thought it was a risk…it felt that I might get negative feedback. However, today I heard it on Radio 4 and so immediately reminded myself that a) it’s ok to now say it and b) I shouldn’t wait for Radio 4 to give me permission to say something!!

Nelson Mandela Quote

The ‘thing’ is the word ‘busy’. For a whole host of very dull reasons, I am very, very good at being busy. I excel at business, lists, schedules. I thrive on a full diary, an illegible calendar & just a tad of chaos that I can moan about. I have, for a very long time worn this as a badge of achievement and worth. If I got up every day and rushed about until I dropped to bed then somehow I was worth something, contributing and part of the adult world. The thing is…for a long while now there has been a nagging doubt that this was working out quite so well. I creeping suspicion that somehow I might have been barking up the wrong tree for quite a long time. Bugger….

In tandem to my life being busy, I have also managed to achieve quite a lot but what I realise, for everything I achieve there is a longer list of things I haven’t achieved. My house is still on the grubby side, my ironing pile is still totally out of hand, my email inbox is still full of things I need to catch up with & I wish, of how I wish, I could spend more time in the garden. I have begun to realise that being busy might be a crappy habit that actually might reduce productivity and increase chaos.

I totally acknowledge that many of you have had this sussed for some time but (possibly due to m business) I have been slow to the party….

Over the last 12 months all this has come to a head – old classics like a terribly bad back, less great sleep etc etc. So, earlier this year I decided I was going to start by not using the word busy anymore. I try (and it is flippin tricky) to use other words when I go to meetings and people ask how things are. I try to say things like exciting, interesting, productive in some attempt to create a self fulfilling prophecy. It is beginning to work….slowly I am beginning to understand what works for me. I am hoping I am not alone in my new allergy to busyness and thought I’d share some things that are (mostly) working for me:

  1. Try the language change – this is probably the hardest bit, but try to avoid using the word. I find that it simply makes my heart rate go up and stresses me out. I realise too, that I am only saying to satisfy others…..if I say relaxed or chilled people might assume work isn’t going so well? So now I care less and use more positive language.
  2. Change your routine – I am corporate borne in my work life and so still struggle with he notion that if I’m not at my desk or in a meeting by 9 I must be skiving! This too is off my list. I now schedule my day according to how I work. For example I know I get creative and immersed in good work after lunch once I have the day’s stuff out of the way. I book meeting for the morning now & sit back and get creative later.
  3. The 6 things rule – I no longer present my poor brain with my full list of tasks that I need to do because clearly I will never arrive at the finishing line! I now pick the main 6 things that take priority today and write them down. I achieve things and I reduce that nagging fear that I have missed something important.
  4. Stick to compartments – When you work for yourself, there is no difference between home and work….it’s all in one stress lump! I have an office away from the house and clearly I need to work in the evening sometimes and definitely at the weekend. BUT now I stick to time slots. If I have worked all day and have achieved my 6 things, I no longer start on tomorrow’s list – I go to the next compartment – maybe yoga, a dog walk, cooking tea, fold washing, call a friend. Because this is a new place I feel guilt free and it creates better balance.

I hope that I am not alone in my ‘ban busy’ campaign and would love to hear what your thoughts are!!