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.
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!