So this week I am talking about something that is definitely prevalent in our everyday lives – busyness.
I do like to be busy. Its sometimes hard for me to switch off, with the endorphins of a to do list beckoning. However I discovered not long ago that really, my to do list was helping me achieve nothing. I was working on stuff week to week, but actually not achieving anything. I had set major goals in my life revamp (documented in my older blogs) but instead of what I thought was working towards it steadily each week, some weeks that job would fall off the radar as my to do list was overwhelming me. Then it would just sit in the red, as the days and weeks would go past, taunting me with something I hadn’t achieved.
I do like a to do list. I get a little bit of an endorphin rush when I complete a task (especially as I use an app that sends unicorns over the screen when I have completed a task. I also have a very complex one set up for one of my clients. However my therapist told me that actually, my days were starting to get regimented, and I was actually working hard, but not smart. I was putting immense pressure on myself to perform tasks that didn’t NEED to be done that day, and when they went into the red, my anxiety would start coming in and I would over compensate to get stuff done. Meanwhile the most important jobs would get shoved off the radar and these were the ones that would actually make more of an impact on my life, not that the kitchen needed it’s weekly deep clean.
I have noticed that everyone is busy. Everyone has to go to work, pack a lunch, keep fit, look after their 2.5 children, see their parents, go to family events, keep their house clean, the list goes on. However not much time is left for mindfulness or downtime, and what downtime there is might involve alcohol (nothing wrong with that obviously). The pressure to have it all is very hard, and something that has been debated and ripped apart over the years, but for a lot of people, if they aren’t doing something or achieved something that day, they consider it a failure.
When I signed off work with burnout, I was told to priortise 3 things a day. Nothing else. I was so burnt out that even getting three things done was hard – and this could be having a shower, making your lunch, etc.
When I revamped my life after I got better, I got more organised (I do love to be organised) and started a master to do list that sets things up for even a year in advance. However with my anxiety, I swung it to the extreme, and took it far too seriously. If I were smarter earlier on, I would have set up tasks like meditation, exercise, seeing friends, etc.
Once I got back out the other side, I did just that. I (sadly) now have programmed my friends into it so I see them at least once a month (hopefully more). I also have programmed to do Yoga and Meditation every day as this is a really great mindful part of the day I look forward to. I also have programmed exercise, daily tasks, and redid my deadlines so tasks are more realistic to what I am doing that day.
I know there are people out there that thrive from busyness. However it is really important to make the most important task of the day you and your self care. Have something on your list that makes you happy that day, such as a run, or a magazine read, or watching a crappy tv show (I do love Project Runway). Cut your to do list ruthlessly. Do you need to go and see your aunts cousins daughter? No. Do you need to clean the kitchen today? Can it wait until tomorrow? Yes. While being busy is thought of as being productive, it is very easily to get caught up in it and then find out that actually, nothing is getting done and you are stressed and exhausted.
Tell me three things you can cut off your to do list – STAT.
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