How to escape the cult of busy: 6 tips you need to try

By author photo Kate Merryweather

lifestage · 29 Oct 19

Let’s face it, everyone is busy these days. We’ve all got plenty of responsibilities. Perhaps you’ve got young children. Or caring for elderly relatives. A stressful job. Family conflict. Money pressures. Maybe all of the above?

 

There’s a lot going on for everyone. And the result of all these commitments? STRESS.

 

Stress can cause health problems

Everyone experiences stress and a little stress can be healthy as it can be motivating if it feels manageable. However, if stress becomes too much and is maintained in the long term it  can cause or contribute to poor mental health and leave you feeling physically unwell. Plus, it can cause lack of sleep, which can leave you seriously unmotivated to follow a healthy eating plan or exercise.

 

When you’re on a weight loss journey, stress can be a silent saboteur

You’re busy with the kids, so you eat their leftovers instead of a preparing your own nutritious meal. You stay late working, so you grab takeaway on the way home, because it’s easier and quicker. You lay awake worrying at night, so you feel too tired to exercise and pack a healthy meal for the next day.  Stress can be downright harmful to achieving your weight loss goals.

 

  1. Calendar-based living 

If you’re spending a lot of time feeling stressed why not try calendar-based living? For a week or two, track how you spend all of your time using a digital tool like Google calendars or time tracking apps. Allocate time for what you want to get done, sure. But the key is to see what really happened. Where is your time really going? By figuring out what wastes your time, you can make improvements.

 

  1. Seek ways to combine your time

Can you watch that trashy TV show with a walk on the treadmill, some stretches or while folding the laundry? Can you give your mum or friend a call while you drive home from work? Can you have standing meetings or walk with a colleague instead of getting coffee? Can you catch up with friends for a morning walk instead of a boozy dinner? A few small combinations make a big difference.

 

  1. Focus on what’s important to you

Sometimes urgent stuff gets in the way, and never get around to the things that are important to you, like daily exercise or calling a friend who needs support. The Eisenhower matrix is a tool that can help you prioritise your tasks:

  • What’s important to you and urgent? – Do it now
  • What’s important to you, but not urgent? – Plan for it
  • What’s urgent but not important to you? – Try to delegate it
  • What’s not urgent and not important to you? – See if you can delete it

 

The key to escaping the cult of busy is to avoid those time wasters. Author Gretchen Rubin says: “the biggest waste of time is doing something well that need not be done at all.”

 

  1. Do less, enjoy more

To stop being so busy, you simply must do less. Easier said than done, right? But why not give yourself permission to say no to unwanted invitations? Especially the ones that don’t make you excited, or that feel like an obligation. When you’re thinking of spending time on anything, ask yourself first: is this a priority? Is this something I really want to do? The reality of it is, that it is okay to put yourself first by saying no and your loved ones will understand.

 

  1. Remember that sometimes ‘good enough is good enough’

If something is 80% good, that’s pretty damn good! Spending hours icing that cake to perfection  or adding fancy graphics to your work presentation will get it to 90%, but is it really worth that extra time? If you find yourself a bit of a perfectionist, try to remind yourself that not everybody is! If what you’re producing will get the job done (and to a high standard) is it worth the extra time and stress to take it further? You could take that time to enjoy a yoga class or prepare healthy snacks instead. Aim to get rid of perfectionism and embrace the ‘good enough, is good enough’ mindset.

 

  1. Think about what you’re really putting off

Perhaps you’re keeping yourself busy to distract you from what’s really bothering you or from what you really need to address. If you don’t want to do any kind of deep reflection, being busy gives you a perfect excuse! But we all know that by ignoring underlying problems, they only get worse. Consider that if you take time to examine problems, or have the difficult conversation you’ve been dreading, you’ll feel much better off in the long run and can focus on what’s really important to you.

Don’t let busyness become a habit

If busyness has become a habit for you remember that like other habits, you can break it! There’s plenty to benefit from being less busy. More time to focus on yourself, to achieve your goals and work towards a happier, healthier future.  Wouldn’t that be rather nice?

Find out more

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