A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I have personally been on a mission to simplify my life by making a very conscious choice NOT to be too busy (read that post here).
Yes, I still have a very full schedule with family, household duties, working from home, church commitments, home renovations, etc. BUT I have gotten really good at knowing when I’m nearing my “busyness threshold” and when I need to start scaling back and saying no to other activities and opportunities that come my way.
I still thrive on being productive and I try my best to be a good steward of the 24 hours I have each day. However, I almost never let myself get to the point where I’m super stressed out or completely overwhelmed and losing sleep over the fact that I have way too much on my plate and am just “too busy.”
Of course, there are busier days and weeks and seasons of life for everyone — and I think that’s totally fine. It’s when that “busy season” never goes away and life just keeps getting busier and busier and busier with no end in sight.
For example, we’re leaving on vacation in a couple weeks so I’ve CHOSEN to allow extra busyness in my life right now as I try to work ahead for my blog, my VA work, and various house projects. I’m spending extra time packing and preparing things for the trip, and I have been a lot busier. HOWEVER, that’s just for a couple of weeks. Then, as a result of these busier weeks, I’ll be able to enjoy a much more relaxing, less busy week of vacation. I’ll know that everything is squared away for our trip AND that most of my work is done for the week we return.
I’ll also most likely enter into a short season of busyness in June as we prepare for the new baby to arrive in early July. I’ll be doing lots of freezer cooking, doing laundry like a crazy lady, working ahead on my blog, and tying up any loose ends on house projects, yard projects, blog projects. etc. But again, this busyness is a conscious choice in order to afford more “downtime” to relax and enjoy my new baby once he’s here!
For the most part, my life does not feel overwhelming, overly stressed, or overly busy… but based on all the emails and comments I’ve been getting related to my busyness post, I realize there are MANY of you who simply feel way too busy right now… and you don’t know how to slow down.
If you can relate to feeling too busy, I hope the ideas and concepts in this post will be helpful and encouraging for you — and, more importantly, I hope they will motivate you to make some changes in your life.
I guarantee you won’t regret those changes if they can help you to simplify, destress, relax, and enjoy life a bit more.
1. List your goals and priorities.
This does not need to be time consuming or complicated. It shouldn’t take you hours and hours to “figure out” your goals. Instead, just sit with a pad of paper and a pen (or your computer if you’re cool like that!) and start jotting down things you want from life.
- Work projects you’re involved with
- House projects you’d like to tackle this year
- Family vacations you’d like to take
- Financial milestones you want to save up for
- Church, school, or community groups you want to minister with or be involved with
- Weight loss and/or healthy-living goals
- ect. etc.
This list could include ANYTHING that is important to you right now — something as simple as “eat a family dinner together 1 night a week” or as huge as “quit my job to pursue other passions”.
The point is that YOU need to know what your goals and priorities are in order for you to make informed decisions on the best ways to use your 24 hours.
2. Take note when you feel too busy.
Do you feel overwhelmed with your work? Are you dreading all the meetings you need to attend? Are you overcommitted at church or your child’s school? Are household chores, meal planning, and yard work wearing you down?
Whenever you feel too busy, stop and consider if what you’re currently doing is helping to propel you towards one or more of your goals and priorities.
If it IS helping you reach one of your goals, then it’s probably one of the activities you need to stick with right now (maybe it’s just one of those busier seasons of life for you). If it’s NOT helping, then I would seriously evaluate whether it’s something you should be doing right now (see #3 below for clarification).
3. Create Change.
When you feel too busy with activities that are NOT helping you get closer to your goals and priorities, it’s time to take action and create change. Yes, YOU need to CREATE the change — it’s not just going to magically happen.
Here are a few ideas to help you create that change and find more “balance” in your life.
1. Streamline the activity to take less time.
Can you be more efficient doing a particular task or activity? Can you do it at a different (more productive time) of the day so you have fewer distractions and are able to work faster?
Is there a tool you could purchase or borrow to help you be more efficient (like updated technology or newer equipment)? Or what about evaluating your process to see if you can eliminate any of the steps?
Whether it’s meal planning and grocery shopping, a long-term project for church or work, or decluttering your home, there are almost always ways to streamline the process so it takes less time.
2. Steal time from another activity.
This is basically the same concept as using the “envelope system” for budgeting. If you run out of money in your grocery budget for the month, you can either get less groceries OR you can “steal” money from another envelope (like your entertainment envelope).
If you’d like more time to exercise, spend with your family, or work on a house project — you might find that time if you “steal” it from another activity. Maybe you can choose to skip your annual weekend shopping trip with the girls in order to make time for a fun family weekend at home. Or maybe you choose to take a few vacation days at work to make time for a quick home renovation project.
By stealing time from one activity, you can then make time for other activities that are more important to you at this point in your life.
3. Find someone else to do the task for you.
If you don’t want to make the time to do something but it’s something absolutely MUST be done… you’ll probably need to find someone else to do it for you.
This might mean hiring a neighbor boy to cut your lawn, paying or rewarding your kids to help with more household chores, trading babysitting with a friend or neighbor, paying $5 to go through a car wash every 2 weeks instead of washing it yourself, or hiring more employees for a growing business.
Often times, this involved trading your money for time (which can be a very good trade off) but it doesn’t always need to expensive. Get creative and see what you can barter for… you might be surprised how much help is right in front of you.
4. Drop the task completely.
This option might not be the most popular option — however, more often than not, it’s the best option. And no, it doesn’t mean that you just quit everything and sit home all day (although, wouldn’t that be glorious every once in a while!)
Dave and I have dropped several tasks, activities, commitments, and obligations over the past few years — partially to make more time for the needs of our growing family, but also to allow time for NEW activities we enjoy and/or feel gifted in.
Dave has dropped many tasks at school, but has picked up others based on his time allotment, interest level, and gifts. I have dropped tasks and left groups at church and in the community, but joined other groups and have attended other events that are geared more towards young children — and obviously fit better with my current stage of life.
Just because you drop a task or a commitment for now, doesn’t mean you can never go back or that you are angry or annoyed — so don’t feel bad. It just means that your life and your priorities are changing — and that’s TOTALLY NORMAL!
I realize none of these options are easy, nor are they simple “quick fixes”, but if you feel stuck in an overly-busy season of life with no end in sight, it’s time to make a change.
You can only keep going in overdrive so long before you totally burn out — and believe me, streamlining, dropping a few tasks, or paying for some extra help right now is a much better alternative to complete burnout later!
The next time you catch yourself complaining that you “don’t have enough time” or that you are “just too busy”, consider how exactly you are spending your time and if it aligns with your current goals and priorities.
If not, use a few of the tips in this post to create change in your life.
In my own personal experience, I’ve never once regretted creating that change yet!