How Busy Am I… Really?

I’ve written a lot on this blog about the challenges of raising a family, working from home, work-life “balance” (hah!), and growing a small business. I love all of these things – it’s very important to me to be available to my kids and my family and it’s also important to me to challenge myself through the work I do in the web design world. Yet, there’s a point when it becomes not fun – when I feel too busy, too stressed, too drained… and life just overwhelms me. I felt that a lot through the late summer and fall of last year. I was struggling with my workload. There was never enough time. Never enough sleep. I was too busy and couldn’t keep my head above water.

Recently, I read an article on Slate about the book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte. I immediately thought back to my time in the fall when I felt really, really busy. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I bragged or felt remotely happy about it, it was an overlying theme for me for several weeks. I continually reiterated to myself and my husband just how busy I was. Even if my workload was higher than normal, I was continually emphasizing that in my mind and in conversation. And I don’t believe that helped my situation. I was seeing this time in life as a time of scarcity (never enough of anything – time, sleep, healthy food) and that mindset seems to coincide with the philosophy of this book: by telling ourselves that we’re busy, we’re simply reinforcing an idea that most likely isn’t true. The article goes on to discuss the main tenet of the book – that we really aren’t as busy as we think we are.

Since the fall of 2013, I’ve worked hard in many areas to cut down on work, to take breaks from work, to be present with my family, and to practice mindful meditation. I believe all of things have contributed to helping me regain my sanity and not feel so “busy”. The article also suggests one more simple thing:

“The answer to feeling oppressively busy… is to stop telling yourself that you’re oppressively busy, because the truth is that we are all much less busy than we think we are.”

I haven’t read this book, yet, and I’m not sure if I will. The Slate article alone has given me a lot of food for thought. I will certainly be more mindful of the words I use to describe my life right now and of falling into the scarcity trap. I know that this is important for my own well-being and also for the example I’m setting for my children. If they see me setting a precedent of leading a frantic life and constantly emphasizing how busy we are, they too might start to feel overwhelmed and anxious about time and our schedule. For now, I’m continuing to regulate my work and taking note of the time I do have.

Image by StewC (CC BY 2.0) via flickr

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