My Personal Definition of “Too Busy”

posted by Andrea | 12/20/2017

Dave and I were recently talking about various friends of ours (many with 4, 5, and even 6 young children) who regularly go on vacation, go camping, go out to eat, go to the movies, do all sorts of extracurricular activities, and run errands all over town WITH ALL THEIR KIDS!

  • They think nothing of signing their 3 and 4 years olds up for dance, soccer, and t-ball.
  • They are involved in so many groups and activities within their churches.
  • They are the first ones to sign up for volunteer opportunities at school, and they bring all their younger kids along with them wherever they go.
  • They willingly take their whole family out to a “normal” restaurant.
  • They will pack up at the drop of a hat if a fun opportunity to travel comes alone.

It is CRAZY! At least for Dave and for me 🙂

However, they truly do not feel too busy.

I’ve talked with a few of these friends, and they have so much fun. They love taking their kids out and about… and it seems that their kids love going out and about. It’s not stressful or overwhelming for them like it would be for Dave and for me… they have MUCH different personalities and definitely a higher threshold for “busy”.

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On the other hand, I often get comments and questions from people asking how I “do it all” — how do I work from home with 4 little kids, tackle home renovations and lots of yard work, keep up with the laundry, and get dinner on the table every night?

It seems overwhelming and maybe a little crazy to them, but it’s completely doable for me because of various routines and systems I have in place, because of my personality, because of how helpful Dave is.

Plus, I really enjoy doing all those things… just like some of our friends really enjoy going on vacation and getting out and about with all their little kiddos (something Dave and I cannot fathom at this point!) 

What feels “too busy” for one person or family, might be completely normal (and even fun) for another person or family… it’s not good or bad or right or wrong, it’s just different!

We’re ALL “busy” doing something… but the thought of defining exactly what “too busy” means for every single person is literally impossible.

However, since I am regularly asked about being “too busy”, I’ve come up with my own personal definition of what “too busy” means for me… I have a feeling it might helpful for others to consider as well.

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My personal definition of “Too Busy”

An extended period of time when you consistently feel as though your physical, mental, and/or emotional well-being is negatively affected due to the number of tasks you want to, or need to, accomplish. 

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In my opinion, this leaves LOTS of wiggle room for different personality types, different energy levels, different lifestyles, etc.

Maybe you’re an extrovert who loves going out with your family. It doesn’t bother you to miss nap times, get home way too late on a weeknight, eat out on a regular basis, or change plans at the last minute to fit in just one more activity. If there is something to do, YOU WILL DO IT, and you have so much fun doing it.

Maybe you’re an introvert who feels overwhelmed after 30 minutes in a big group of people and instead, prefers to spend a significant amount of time at home, with or without your family.

Maybe you need structure — including regular meal times, regular bedtimes, and regular wakeup times so you and your children only participate in extra activities that don’t disrupt your daily structure, schedule, and routine.

Maybe you love “flying by the seat of your pants” and doing the next best things that pops up in your various social circles.

Maybe you can handle 3 part-time jobs, maybe you prefer 1 full-time job, or maybe you can’t even wrap your brain around how on earth you’d make time for even one part-time job.

Maybe you are the type of person who likes to pack your days as full as they can possibly be because you just don’t want to miss out on anything.

Maybe you’re in a season of life where you don’t sleep well at night (little children, illness, chronic pain, etc.) so you need lots of down-time to rest and regroup for the next day.

Maybe you have a very demanding job, so when you finish work, you just want to relax.

Maybe you have a very boring job, so when you finish work, you want to get out and have some fun.

Try as you may, there is NO “one-size-fits-all” definition of what is too busy for every single person.

What seems SO overwhelming to us might be completely normal for someone else — even enjoyable.

What seems normal to us might seem crazy to someone else.

We all have different “thresholds” for when we feel too busy, not to mention different personality types, different energy levels, different needs, and different interests.

If YOU feel like your life is too busy and your schedule is too full, I’d suggest taking a long hard look at your schedule. Be honest with yourself…

  • Do you REALLY need to do everything on your list or in your calendar or can you let a few things go for a while?
  • Have you felt too busy for a long time, or is this simply a busier period of the day/week/year for you?
  • Is the extra busyness enjoyable for you or does it cause stress and health issues?

I’ve found that we usually know the answers to our own questions… we’re just too afraid to admit them.

How can YOU tell when YOU are “too busy”?

NOTE: If you’re still wondering, my guess is that you probably are too busy! In that case, you might want to read through this post: 5 Signs Your Schedule is Too Full (and 5 tips on how to fix it)!

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11 comments

  1. Leanne

    12/20/2017

    I can tell when I’m too busy because my personal health suffers… I have chronic migraines anyway…and if I try to do “all the things”…they get bad…
    I do a lot with my kids and am way more flexible now they are older, but when they were younger, I just stuck to the routine… same rountine as much as possible….
    we are in a season of busy right now because of a move which we hadn’t planned and I can’t wait to be much less busy very soon…
    I’m an ESFJ…but, I think because I am so heavy on the “feeling” side, I can’t be too busy if there is a lot family drama going on… or I tend to “melt down” a bit….
    so, my two “check points” of too busy are “bad headaches and bad attitude”… when that starts, I start eliminating silly things that take too much time 😉
    …. now…. if one of those silly things could be laundry 😉

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well, we’re opposite on the F and T (I’m so NOT “feeling”) but everything else is very similar since I’m an I/ESTJ. And yes, I NEED to stick with routine with the kids otherwise everything seems so busy and stressful.

    Oh laundry… it’s never-ending!!

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  2. Jean

    12/20/2017

    Debbie Downer here. 🙂 My first thought when I read your opening paragraphs about your peers with many children who are constantly on the go, eat out and vacation at will was that I personally could never do that and keep my financial house in order and save for retirement and other long term goals. So many people are on the go constantly and embrace a level of busyness that allows them a convenient excuse not to have their financial act together — meaning no wills or estate planning, no retirement planning and in some cases a lot of overhead and debt. Granted, I am pretty conservative financially, but as I near retirement and the prospect of living off what we saved for retirement, I am glad we took a conservative approach and saved for the inevitable rainy days or unplanned life events. I also look back on all the things we actually did mindlessly – just because everyone else was or our peers were — and wish I could have even a fraction of that time and money back. Doing what everyone else does, keeping up with the Jones and being so busy that you don’t have time to plan, organize and reflect on what really is important to YOU (not your parents, not your siblings, not your peers at work or church) is a lesson learned too late for many (including me).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good for you for being so financially prepared — I’m certain you will only continue to benefit from this as the years go by (you know I’m a huge fan of getting finances in order)!

    I find that when people are different from us, or choose different lifestyles than us, it is easy to assume the others are “wrong” or “not being responsible” when really, we have no idea if that is the case or not. Depending on their income levels, it would be fairly easy for these families to enjoy lots of vacations, extra activities, going out to eat, etc. AND still be financially responsible… I definitely don’t think this is an “either / or” situation.

    [Reply]

    Jean Reply:

    I agree…..and apologize for sounding “judgey”. I just know that I personally could not do all of that and keep it together. I admire people who can though. Smile

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    no apology needed — I also couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to) do all of that either. It’s honestly hard for me to fathom it being “fun” for them… but I know it is! Crazy how different people are 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Lynn

    12/20/2017

    Great post Andrea! In my 20’s and 30’s I worked full-time and several part-time jobs for various reasons. I worked very hard so I only had to work my full-time job and be home more! Learning I am an Introvert finally explained why I need to be home a lot. Then I became even more blessed when my current job (which I love) let’s me work from home three days a week! These days (in my 50’s) I am home more and taking better care of myself. Love your blog!

    Merry Christmas!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I feel the same way — I always assumed I was an extrovert because I really DO enjoy being around people (in certain situations) and have always been fairly outgoing. However, learning that I am, in fact, leaning towards the introverted side of the spectrum, helped me realize that it’s OK for me to enjoy being home and not going out. It’s OK to say “maybe next time” when friends want to hang out. I’m much happier for it (especially now with little kids around me all day long!) I NEED a break at night!

    [Reply]

  4. Stephanie

    12/20/2017

    Andrea, we are so like-minded and we must be of the same personality type! You just put into words what I have been thinking. I admire my creative, on the-go-friends but I feel like I need to stay at home and keep everything on track and running smoothly. I have a very busy husband and a large family-teens to elementary. If I don’t keep the household running smoothly, everything goes off-track quickly. I enjoy being at home so it works out well for us. :-). I know we all probably compare ourselves to others at times but we have to realize (like you said) that each family is very unique and has different needs.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha! I’m an ISTJ (bordering on ESTJ) — do you know what you are?

    [Reply]

    Stephanie Reply:

    I scored as an ESTJ but I am on the border of Introvert/Extrovert. In reading the description, I would say I am more of an introvert. No wonder we tend to think alike! 🙂

    [Reply]