I had a colleague in my life for a while, and every single time I asked her how she was doing, she would respond, “I’m soooo busy. I mean, I can’t tell you how busy I am; I’m just crazy busy.” I would always walk away from that feeling like I was small and like, “Hey, I am busy too!” I mean, aren’t we ALL busy? I don’t know one person that doesn’t have enough to do.
Back in 2009, a study from the Center for American Progress showed that Americans put in more hours of work each week than any other country on earth — the so-called “American disease.” Since then, however, other research suggests that the rest of the world is closing that gap.
What’s especially telling isn’t just the fact we’ve gotten busier, but that it’s become a point of pride to be so. A 2016 study from the Harvard Business School shows how being “busy” has become a major status symbol in this country.
But where is that busyness leading us?
If you ask me, “busy” has become a scary word. It makes us seem unapproachable and falsely important, and it can make people feel as if they are not doing enough when they hear how busy you are.
Personally, I think we should abandon the word “busy.” We all have the same 24 hours in the day. It comes down to making choices. Even the busiest of people make time for the things that are important to them, and they do this because they have clarity around how they want to spend their time and what they want to focus on.
Here are four simple steps to create a LESS busy life:
- Find yourself. What does that mean? Well, consider your Core Four, which are the four main areas of your life that you want to focus on. For example, these might be: health, work, family, and spirit. This means that for the most part, all of your activities, reading material, and time spent should correspond to one of these areas. This is a quick and simple way to always help bring you back to what is important and help you clarify your decision-making process about how you are spending your time and energy.
- Learn to say “NO.” Say it loudly, consistently, and without guilt. If you are a “yes person,” then you will always be busy doing things that don’t matter to you or that don’t correspond to your Core Four. Learn to stop caring about things that don’t matter and watch your life become instantly less busy.
- Schedule. Have a plan for your day, week, month, and year. I guarantee that you WILL always get more done if you have a plan and get things out of your head. This puts things in front of you, which helps clear your head and helps you see things differently, which will ultimately help you focus on what is important.
- Simplify. Become more aware around what you are so busy doing, and recognize that we are addicted to busyness as a society. It somehow makes us feel important when we are busy. It is almost as if when we aren’t busy and don’t have a full calendar, it means we aren’t important or aren’t successful. But in the end, we are more stressed, less happy, and lead less meaningful lives. Apparently, the old adage is true: Less is more!