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Escaping the Busy Trap: How to Ditch the Overworked and Overwhelmed Mindset

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When I was a kid I loved to eavesdrop on adult conversations.  And I was stellar at doing so without being found out.  Adults, and the world they lived in, fascinated me.  So, I listened to them and endeavored to learn everything I could from them.

Over time I realized that the world they lived in wasn’t all that different from mine. What was different was how complicated they made everything.  I noticed that adults were often complaining about how “busy” they were.  And this busyness was what made their lives so complicated. 

Yet their complaints seemed hollow – and sounded more like bragging. Being busy was worn as a badge of honor, as though it made them more important.   And there was some martyrdom going on in their complaining.  They whined about how they couldn’t do what they really wanted to be doing – and about how time just kept passing them by.

But they were wrong.  Time wasn’t passing them by – they were choosing how to spend their time in a way that didn’t serve them.

Busyness isn’t a badge of honor

I remember questioning how busy these adults really were, because most of the things they were “busy” with didn’t seem all that important to me.  I also remember feeling sorry for them because they were wasting much of their time. Time that they’d never get back.

What these adults failed to see was that being busy isn’t honorableAnd it doesn’t make you important.  You don’t succeed by being busy.  Success comes through focusing on the right things, doing them well, and persevering.

And, contrary to popular belief, being busy doesn’t help you – it drags you down.  It’s a weight placed upon your shoulders that is heavy to bear.  Leading to overwhelm, burnout, and complete misery.  Not success.

How you spend your time is a choice

I learned an important lesson through my observations as a child.  Time is a commodity – one that should be spent wisely.

You’d think that I would have kept this lesson close to my heart and never end up in the same boat as the adults I observed in my youth.  Unfortunately, I’m human and convinced myself that my childish thoughts weren’t realistic.  And, once I reached adulthood, I wore my busy badge of honor too (sometimes with great pride).

Which means that I eventually found myself committed to too many things, exhausted, and overwhelmed.  How did I get to this place?

I had convinced myself that I had no choice.  But didn’t I?

Here’s the thing: time doesn’t stop, slow down, or grow.  You cannot create more time.  But you get to choose how you spend your time.

After learning this lesson a second time (the hard way), it’s finally starting to stick.  Of course, I sometimes still fall into the trap of burdening myself with and prioritizing things I don’t really want or need to be doing.  And I sometimes waste my time on unimportant things.  I’m a work in progress.

But I’m getting better at catching myself when this happens and course correcting.  And the reason I’m able to do this is because I’ve accepted that I do have a choice.  I get to choose how to prioritize my tasks, what I say “yes” (and “no”) to, and whether I delegate.

I’m in control.  And you can be in control too – by choosing.

It’s time to choose

If anything, people have become “busier” than the adults I observed in my youth.  But this “busyness” is often spent on things that waste our time (such as incessantly checking email, updating and perusing social media, and surfing the internet).  Or on activities that aren’t that important or could be handed off and done by others.

And this often leads to regrets about how we’ve spent our time (even though we claim that we have no choice).  But let me suggest something to you about regret.  If you regret it, then you know deep down that you had a choice – and that you chose poorly.

Start using that regret to your advantage.  Listen to it and choose differently.  That’s all it takes.

So, it’s time you make the choice.  Drop the busy badge of honor and re-think how you think of busy.  Because busy doesn’t equal productive.  This simple mind shift will help you take control over your life and how you spend your time.  And it will help you ditch overwhelm.

In the comments below, I want to hear from you.  How are you committing to be less busy?  Is there something you’re willing to drop completely or delegate away?  Commit to this now.  It will help hold you accountable and make it real for you.

You can do this.

Until next time…

P.S.  Once you make the choice to change your mindset, then what?  Grab hold of 5-Minute Stress Solutions to cultivate a healthy mind, release stress and take control.

 

 


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Hey there, I’m Heather.

Recovering lawyer, executive coach and master of making the complex suuuuper simple.

Lover of queso and dark chocolate (I know, weird combo) + all things Texas Longhorns who’s driven to help lawyers and other high-achievers succeed in BOTH career and life (at the same time).

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