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Is “Busy” the new “Normal”?

Lately I have noticed that I am coaching a significant number of individuals whose daily schedules and calendars are a huge challenge.  These folks are on the go from the wee hours of the morning until well into the night with a myriad of activities related to their jobs, home, family, school, volunteer commitments and other pursuits.  Listening to what they cram into 24 hours is enough to make me want to lie down and pull the covers over my head!

What’s wrong with being busy?  Absolutely nothing. 

Most of us get some pleasure from having a busy, productive life filled with new challenges and activities.  Even society places a certain cache on being super busy.  We admire those people with the gargantuan workloads, those individuals who hold down full-time jobs, train for marathons, travel extensively, and take French cooking lessons – while also finding time to write the great American novel and volunteer as a docent at the museum!     

It has also become quite chic to blame technology on being busy.  Having to constantly check your work email, personal email, Facebook™ and Twitter™ accounts while catching the latest cute cat video on YouTube™ –  well heck, being connected takes a lot of time!   

But lately it seems like things have gotten out of hand; so out of hand that “busy” is becoming our new “normal”.  And this new normal can take a toll on us, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.  For example, when I get really busy, I am quick to cut corners on exercise, sleep and eating the right foods – all of the things I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and my sanity!

Blaming society and technology for our perpetual busyness doesn’t address the root cause of the issue – ourselves.  Often we find ourselves super busy because of the desire to feel needed and our need for security. Sometimes we take on too much because of our need for perfection or validation – “I’m the only one who can do the grocery shopping properly”.  We also succumb to hyper busyness when we take it upon ourselves to make sure everyone in our life is taken care of and happy.  This type of busyness is often associated with guilt.


So, what’s a busy person to do? 

First, recognize that you have choices.  If your day is too full, it is because you’ve allowed it to be filled to the brim.  

Second, consider what you value most and organize your schedule around those priorities.  If you value a strong, healthy body more updating your Facebook™ page with photos of your weekend, you might want to log-off the computer and spend those 30 minutes walking or going to the gym.  Look for ways to honor multiple values in your schedule – for example, cooking a nutritious dinner with your spouse or children allows you to spend time with your family and honor your value to eat clean, healthy food.

Third, practice saying “No” to those activities that don’t truly honor your core values.  If you have decided that you value a solid 8 hours of sleep each night, then it will be easier to say no when you are asked to serve on the night shift for the “Save the Turtles” campaign.  Remember – saying no is often a matter of passing by the good for the sake of the best.  

Perhaps most importantly, recognize that keeping busyness in check isn’t something that you do once and forget about.  Maintaining balance in our schedules requires focus and constant commitment, just like anything worthwhile in life.

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