Maybe Busyness Isn’t Always Bad

posted by Andrea | 01/6/2017
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While I definitely love being productive and crossing things off my to-do list, I will be the first to admit that I do NOT enjoy extended periods of busyness. I can handle them, I can push through them, but I don’t like them.

Those of you who have read my blog for some time know that I make a very conscious effort to plan ahead, work ahead, practice daily maintenance, create structure and routine, and do everything in my power to alleviate the stress and chaos from these busier seasons of life… but rarely can I completely avoid all busyness.

There are busy times every day, busy days each week, and sometimes even lengthy busy seasons of life. There are times when I don’t think I can handle one more thing, one more commitment, one more to-do, one more obligation, but I somehow push through and make it out on the other side.

We do what we have to do when, despite our best efforts to simplify and streamline, we still end up with too much our plate.

Busyness isn’t ideal, but is all busyness always bad?

Sometimes, I think we get sucked into thinking that all busyness is bad, unnecessary, and something that could or should be avoided — like if our lives are busy, we’re doing something wrong.

But in reality, busy times are often just part of life. They are not always avoidable, nor are they always bad.

Of course, we don’t want to be so busy that we are constantly exhausted and stressed — but in my experience, times of busyness help me better appreciate times of break. And times of break help me to see the importance of the work I do and the fruits of my busier seasons of life.

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Dave and I just finished a very relaxing, laid-back Christmas break at home (after a fairly busy first 3 months of school). We thoroughly enjoyed the break, but I know our break would not have been nearly as enjoyable if we didn’t have jobs or other obligations to take a break from.

It’s fun to think about life with no work, no obligations, no to-do lists, and no busyness; but unending days without purpose would certainly get boring after a while. However, if we take the opposite extreme and keep ourselves busy all day, every day, we never get to enjoy a well-deserved break… we might even experience burnout.

So you see… both the break AND the busy are necessary.

If you stop and think about it, our entire lives revolve around periods of “busy”, followed by periods of “break”, followed by periods of “busy” again — and the cycle continues.

  • We’re busy working for 5 days and have a 2-day break on the weekend before we head back to work again.
  • We’re busy at school for 9 months and get a 3-month break in the summer before we advance to the next grade.
  • We’re busy chasing toddlers around all morning, but then enjoy a break when they take their afternoon nap and are “back to work” once they wake up again.
  • We’re busy with holiday preparations, shopping, baking, etc. and then (often) get a nice break between Christmas and New Year before getting back to “business as usual” after the holidays.
  • We’re busy planning our wedding, and then enjoy a break on our honeymoon before we come back home and figure out how to live our lives with another person.
  • We’re busy preparing for a new baby, and then enjoy taking it easy for a week or so until that new baby decides he/she isn’t going to sleep all day anymore!
  • We’re busy doing yard work, planting, and harvesting all spring, summer, and fall, and then we enjoy a break over the cold winter months and are excited to get back outside at the first hints of spring.
  • We’re busy advancing our careers and raising our families, and then we enjoy a break when our kids move out and we retire and find something else to fill our days.
  • We’re busy doing whatever it is we do all day long, but then enjoy a break when we go to bed at night so we can wake up and do it all over again the next morning.

 

In my opinion (as someone who tries to avoid as much busyness as possible) busyness is not always avoidable nor is it always bad — whether it’s busy mornings getting everyone out the door on time, busy weeks preparing to move, or busy years struggling to make ends meet while working 2 jobs and raising a family.

We aren’t necessarily doing something wrong if we have busy periods in our days, weeks, and years.

If you’re in a season of “busy” right now, do your best to push through, find the value in what you’re doing, look for ways to avoid future busyness, and anticipate an eventual break.

If you’re in a season of “break”, enjoy it! And also, take some time to look back on your busy periods to see what you can learn, how you can grow, and if there is anything you can do differently to simplify or make future busy seasons less stressful. I’ve listed a few helpful resources below!

5 Signs Your Schedule is Too Full (and what to do about it)

Why I Choose “Productive” Instead of “Busy”

When (Some) Busyness Leads to (Mostly) Simple

Creating Change When You Just Feel Too Busy

What are your thoughts on busyness?

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7 comments

  1. Mara Yager

    01/09/2017

    Great post

    [Reply]

  2. Barb

    01/06/2017

    Andrea,

    I needed this reminder! I’m in a busy season of life. My husband and I are raising 4 kids, he works full time, and I’m taking 17 credits this semester to finish up my degree and graduate by next December. I know my schedule sounds crazy! However, I’m looking forward to being able to slow down a little bit after I graduate. 🙂

    I always look forward to reading your posts because I find them so motivational! Thank you for the words of encouragement!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that does sound like a lot! it will be great when things slow down again for you and your family!

    [Reply]

  3. Charissa

    01/06/2017

    I blog about being not so busy. I think life for sure has its busy moments, weeks (maybe even years). I just don’t like when people define their lives and their very selves as “busy”, and I see this as a super big trend right now.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, exactly!
    I am fairly careful never to describe my life or my day as “busy”. I might say “I had a long list today” or, “we have a full schedule this week”, or even “that is a busier time of day for us” but I won’t just say “I’m so busy” in an effort for sympathy or so I can look like I’m more important than others around me.

    [Reply]

  4. Susie

    01/06/2017

    Have you heard the quote, “idle hands are the devils work shop”. I feel better when I don’t sit around too much. I know you don’t sit around, probably a lot less the me! I have also noticed the kids are happier when they are busy. Lots of less fighting. On Christmas I was getting so crabby then I started to do laundry and cleaning and I was surprised how much my mood improved. I tend to be a type b personality so I don’t stress when things are not perfect. I also like your statmentats about seasons. I am due for a baby #8 In two weeks and have a cold so I have been moving really slow, it makes me board not to be busy but then I get tired.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes I have! But thanks for the reminder Susie!

    [Reply]