When someone asks you how you are doing or what you have been up to or even how your family is – do you answer “Busy” or “Crazy busy” or “Well, we have so much going on…” I know I have answered this way before. I have made a choice to not answer like that anymore. Let me try to explain why.
“Being busy doesn’t make you important or cool or worthy. It just makes you busy.” I found this quote on Pinterest and I don’t know who to attribute it to, but I like it so much I am including it here anyway. When we say we are busy we are making a choice. We are making a choice to multitask. We are deciding where our priorities are. We are making a choice to talk about being busy – what an ultimate waste of time.
Is this busy thing a new thing? When did we start worshipping busyness? When did it become criminal to be mindful or to single task or to spend time in prayer or meditation? When was the last time you spent a whole weekend at home and off the phone, computer, tv, etc.? When was the last time you had a truly uninterrupted conversation with someone? Believe it or not, this is not a new thing. And even though we like to invent new issues for ourselves, this one goes way back.
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. – Henry David Thoreau (A warning to stop wasting time on things that really don’t matter.)
Beware the barreness of a busy life. – Socrates (Okay, Socrates is on point for this and I’m pretty sure he’s been dead for a really long time!)
So if this busy thing has been around for quite a while and really smart people have been warning us away from it, where did we go wrong and even more importantly how do we fix it?
Here is a start:
1. Refuse to use “busy” as an answer. Give a real answer (“I feel great, I love my family, and I wake up everyday knowing God loves me!” – okay that might be a mouthful so only try this if you have previous experience working at a Chick-fil-a “My family and I are enjoying playing in the snow.” – okay anyone who knows me knows I hate the cold or “I am doing better than last week” or how about “I have been yelling at my kids a lot more than I like, but I am praying about it.” Even the age old teenager “Fine” is better than answering “busy”). Let this change help others not feel the need to be busy. We could start a movement, a slow lifestyle movement. People that allow themselves to get “bored”, very quickly are able to address anything that could possibly be missing in their life. When was the last time you were bored?
2. Say NO to busy. Give yourself permission to say “NO! and run screaming and yelling” or at least “Oh that sounds like such an amazing opportunity, but Bridgette said I have to say no, so I would, but I’m afraid I can’t.” Remember that anything you say no to is saying yes to something higher up on your priority list. You can say no to almost anything. An invitation to a party, or luncheon, answering a phone call, a text , or an email, a chance to volunteer for a really good cause, the thought in your head that you have to vacuum before you play with your kids, or even turning on the television set.
Say you got three invitations in the mail today maybe your favorite movie or music star want to have a performance for you, the Pope wants to give you his blessing, and the President of the United States wants to hear from you about how our country should be governed, and they all want you to join them for dinner tonight, and to make it worse you promised your spouse to stay in tonight and have a date because you really have a lot to talk about that you haven’t addressed because you have been so busy lately. (I mean you are pretty popular if all of these people have you on speed dial.) You get to say “Yes” to only one opportunity. The way you will decide is by using your priorities to say “NO” to all of the other opportunities. Life is like this – we all get the same 24 hours a day. WE ARE ALL EQUALLY BUSY. No matter how hard you try you can’t squeeze even one more second into your day! Your priorities are what is important! Sometimes we say yes to a mediocre or even a good way to spend our time and that leaves us having to say no to our highest priorities.
Get your spouse or a close friend to hold you accountable to this new “saying no thing” that you are practicing. My new year’s resolution is to say “no” to all volunteer opportunities this year. (And yes, I do realize this is weird.) I am a huge proponent of volunteerism and have always said yes to a great volunteer opportunity as it arises. However, my priority is being there for my family when they need me and I feel that I am giving them the shaft a little too much, so this is one way I am going to try to right this balance. I am still volunteering for causes that I believe in, I am just slowly lowering that commitment by finishing some things that I previously volunteered for and not adding new volunteer opportunities unless they speak directly to my priorities. My husband knew I needed to do this quite a while ago and he gets roped into helping with many of my volunteer activities, so he is totally on board with supporting my decision to say no.
3. Single-task – Have you ever even heard that word before? Spend time on one pursuit and don’t let anyone or anything take you away from that pursuit for a given amount of time. Don’t let electronics interrupt you (unless of course, you are clearing your email or something as your single-task). Has anyone seen the business lunches where all the phones get stacked in the middle of the table and the first person to touch their phone has to pay the bill? This is an amazing way to force people to be present. When you are on a date with your spouse, is one of you on the phone while the other watches tv? When you are praying are you also adding to your grocery list? Find a way to minimize distractions. I know lots of you will say this is impossible with little kids, and sometimes it is! But, if you play with your kids (I mean really play, without being sidetracked by anything else in the whole world) and then you ask them to give you 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to pray or declutter a drawer or wee, you might get 2 or 3 minutes before anyone starts crying or needing you, and with practice (and age) this might get a little longer. (I hope!)
4. Choose to say yes to something calming. This can be prayer time, meditation, more sleep or a bubble bath. The great thing about saying no is all the things you will now have time for. And when you are calm and well rested life is a little easier to handle.
5. Simplify your life – You have already started this by choosing to get rid of clutter. You will gain time with every release that you no longer have to spend time, rifling through, storing, cleaning and taking care of.
Now look for something to say “NO!” to.
The AMAZINGLY SIMPLE way to “just say no”!