Maybe you’re an entrepreneur who works at home or you run an Etsy store, or both (ahem). You get up early, excited to do what you love, and your workdays stretch late into the night. You can recall times before deadlines or big launches when you worked 16 or 20 hours straight. Sometimes for days or weeks in a row.
You had to say no to suggestions from friends to hang out or see a movie because you’re busy with work. Too busy. So busy. Someone asks you how you’re doing and you tell them you’re really busy. A part of you might feel a bit proud about that. Even if you feel so stressed you start crying over the smallest thing at the end of the day and lay on the kitchen floor out of exhaustion and remember your toast from two hours ago is still sitting in the toaster and the water you boiled for tea five hours ago, yeah you forgot about that too… Oops… Still, you feel kind of good about having been busy.
And that’s an attitude I’m trying to change in myself. It felt like a breakthrough moment when I realized that it’s not admirable to be busy all the time – sure I’m accomplishing one thing, but at the same time losing another. I’m getting stuff done at the expense of my mental and physical balance. And it’s ok not to continue that way. If you have the choice, it’s ok to work as little or much as you feel you’re able to. It’s borderline insane how much inspiration, fresh ideas, resolve and motivation you can gain by just doing nothing (ie. not working) for a couple of hours every day. As we designers agree, it’s all about the white space, wink wink!
Why it’s so hard to let go of the busy bee mentality?
Being busy and working hard is the norm in our society, it’s kind of expected. We go through school with the understanding that one day we graduate into working a job 9-5, five days a week, because that’s what responsible grown ups are for. It’s the moral thing to do and the way to gain respect. This society rewards (or promises reward) and encourages long work days. You can feel like a loser if you don’t fit into that scheme. For sure there can be feelings of guilt if you “slack off” or listen to your body and mind and stop working when the balance is beginning to tip.
What I’m realizing after years of working like a dog (albeit a happy one) even when I am my own boss is this:
Being busy doesn’t make you important. It can make you stressed and closed up to opportunity or spontaneity. Overworking your body, mind and brain doesn’t mean you’re accomplishing more. It might just mean that you’re being busy for the sake of being busy, and you have the power to change that.
Cures to chronic busyness:
1. Rescheduling! Then learning and doing it right the first time :) Simply space out the timing between your projects a bit more. Don’t be afraid to reschedule. Mostly your clients/customers will just appreciate that you’re taking the time to give your full, fresh attention to their project.
2. Make a conscious effort to not pull tasks from the next day’s to-do list into the previous night. When you’re on the roll and working away, it’s easy to get ambitious and feel like you’re really accomplishing a lot when you knock down half of tomorrow’s work tonight. The problem with that is that you never have an evening off. You never sit on that couch, light that amazingly fragrant soy candle, play peaceful folk indie, and read a book, if you’re catching up on tomorrow’s work today.
What are your thoughts on being busy busy busy? Any tips to add to the list?