We talk to a lot of women at Demanding Joy (which is awesome), and there is an emerging theme to our conversations. It seems that nearly everyone is struggling with feeling over-worked, over-tired, and burned out. We have an epidemic of busyness on our hands.
I get it. I lived in that world for a long time. I spent many years working 50+ hours per week, while trying to be a good wife and mom, while doing community service, while holding myself to completely unreasonable standards - all the while feeling guilty about all the stuff I wasn’t getting done. The stress of it all had a terrible impact on my health. I honestly believe that if I had not learned to change my mindset and my behavior, a life-threatening health crisis was on the horizon for me.
Stress kills. Exhaustion kills.
Being crazy busy is actually driving us crazy.
So what do we do about it? Some thoughts:
- Can we please all agree to acknowledge that exhaustion is not a status symbol? Setting the intention to change your thinking around busyness and take better care of yourself is an excellent first step.
- Set boundaries. Learn to say “no”. Even better, learn to enjoy saying “no”. Want to be on the holiday committee? Want to go to your neighbor’s friend’s nephew’s graduation? Want to take on that extra project? Want to do me a favor? NO.
- Demand time for you. It’s not my intention to put more on your to-do list with this one, but it’s important to carve out even 15 minutes a day to just be still and quiet. This is time to check in with yourself and your own wisdom.
- Acknowledge what you do get done. It’s easy to fall into the trap of finishing one thing and moving right on to the next without stopping. So, take a moment to notice (or dare I say, celebrate) your accomplishments, large or small. Gratitude!
- Stop complaining. The more you talk about how busy and tired you are, the more busy and tired you will be. And if you talk about what’s good, there will be more good. Again, this is about gratitude. Even though you are busy and tired, what good things happened today?
- Eliminate the words “should” and “perfect” from your self-talk vocabulary. Repeat after me, “Good enough is good enough. Done is better than perfect.”
- Stop multi-tasking. Studies have shown that multi-tasking is bullshit. It’s not effective and it’s not good for you. In the words of the great Ron Swanson,
“Don’t half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
- Eliminate overstimulation. Similar to multi-tasking, having too many things going on around you is stressful. Try turning off background noise. Make time each day to turn off anything with a screen. Turn down the volume of life.
- Prioritize. Get really serious about your calendar and your to-do list. What items are on it that are truly important versus what things don’t matter so much. Align your behavior with your priorities.
- Simplify. Purge. Streamline. Get rid of clutter. Get rid of anything you don’t need, use, or love.
- Ask for help. Really consider what absolutely, positively has to be done by you? What can be delegated? What can you hire someone to do? What favors can you call in? Who can you just ask for help? This requires a bit of relinquishing control, but you can do it.
- Finally, and this is a biggie, think about what you’re getting out of being crazy busy. What’s they payoff? Are you using busyness as a numbing agent? Are you avoiding being alone with your thoughts? Are you procrastinating something by making sure that you don’t have time for it? Are you trying to live up to anyone’s expectations other than your own?
Honestly, why are we doing this?
As I said, we’re hearing about burnout a lot. It doesn’t have to be like this. We can help.