In today’s world, most people deal with being busy on a daily, and even hourly basis. Having a ton of things going on all at once seems to have become part of the status quo, and what many people expect out of a usual day.
Most of us are constantly trying to juggle time spent with family and friends, our careers, hobbies, passions, and other day-to-day responsibilities. Being busy, and often exhausted, is fairly commonplace in our society. Learning to find a balance that works is something that a lot of people struggle to do. But more on that later.
The glorification of busy
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how exactly to deal with being busy due to a particular friend of mine, who I’ll call Andy. I am just about at my wit’s end with her, and it’s all because of her obsession with being busy. The fact is that almost every one of our conversations is about how unbelievably “busy” her life is.
This is the focal point of all our conversations, she will start with the regular “hi, how are you?” and from there, launch into a full-on list of what she has done in the last 48 hours, and how absolutely jam-packed her schedule is.
At this point, I feel like I might explode. Let me clarify, this hasn’t just been a particularly busy month for her, by which I mean she is just decompressing with a good friend. Andy has been this way since I met her years ago, and has obsessively informed me of her busyness on a daily basis throughout our entire friendship.
Don’t be the busy bragger!
It was only recently after one of our typical conversations – where she described every single task she had to do within the next 24 hours – and then followed with an Instagram photo of herself watching a movie with buttered popcorn, did I realize that Andy was a busy bragger.
A busy bragger is someone who constantly talks about all the things they have going on in their lives, but don’t actually do all that much. Basically Andy, and other busy braggers, glorify what it means to truly be busy. Perhaps, it is the way they make themselves feel important, or fill an insecurity. Yet, instead of really doing all the things Andy is constantly listing off, she just talks about them, how much time and effort they will take, and then, in the end doesn’t actually do them at all, or very well.
That is a busy bragger. They’re all talk about what they’ve got going on, but in fact, aren’t making many moves. It’s becoming increasingly frustrating for me, as I am in fact busy with my own life, and trying to manage a tight schedule and make the most out of my time. So I’ve concluded that listening to Andy’s lengthy rants about how busy she is, and in fact seeing her inactivity, is counterproductive to my own balancing act.
6 productive ways to get a handle on your busy life
Throughout this frustration, I have come up with six tips that have helped me see through Andy’s bragging ways, and truly deal with my busy schedule. Hopefully, some of these can also be useful for other people who are actually busy doing things.
#1 Be productive, not just “busy”
This is one major point I have learned while dealing with Andy. Being “busy” and being productive are two entirely different things. You could be busy doing a number of things such as checking your Facebook, and writing yourself numerous lists that you might never read afterwards, and will not propel yourself very much further towards your life goals, or more simply what needs to be finished that day.
Being productive on the other hand, when you start to get real things done, is much more beneficial for you and your purpose. This takes organization, time management and the ability to focus. You could make a useful list of all the things you need to get done and start checking them off one by one. Stop wasting your time talking about everything you need to do and just start doing it. As well, by being productive, and not just busy, you will end up having more free time in your schedule to do what you please.
#2 Stop saying yes to everything
In order to be more productive, you must realize you just can’t do it all. You need to remember that, sometimes, you cannot possibly take on every single thing that is asked of you, or thrown your way. Whether it be at work, or at home, you need to accept and understand that you have to say no to certain projects, opportunities, events, and just learn to delegate a task or two.
So, if you boss asks for yet another proposal by the end of the week that is just not humanly possible, you need to learn to say no. Assess what you can realistically do with the resources you have, and then commit to it fully. You will be able to achieve more effective and successful outcomes if you aren’t spread so thin, which is usually more rewarding than doing a whole load of things with only mediocre results.
#3 Prioritize and get it done
We all have endless amounts of responsibilities and things that we need to get done in a day. So after you have stopped taking on every single thing asked of you, you should also start to prioritize. You need to clarify what tasks and responsibilities carry more weight than others.
Once you’ve decided that, get started on the more important things, to ensure you finish those first. If you check off all the major things on your list first, you will feel more accomplished. And it’s okay if a few of the menial tasks get pushed back a day, or two, or indefinitely. Do what you can, and do it well.
#4 Stop procrastinating
If you’ve got to do it, make a plan and get it done. Don’t pull an Andy and talk about it for hours without any form of commitment to actually making moves to finish a particular project or responsibility.
If it’s important, get organized, and finish it. You will feel a million times better completing something on time, and well, than forcibly finishing it last minute and not to the best of your abilities.
Procrastinating is particularly easy these days with the millions of things that we could claim are important like checking emails and messages and updating blogs. However, if you’ve got an important project to do, silence your phone and close your emails. You need to allot yourself the proper amount of time and space to get it finished.
#5 Have healthy habits
Being busy, and productive, is a lot more difficult if you aren’t taking care of yourself. You need to eat healthy foods, hydrate, sleep properly, get some kind of exercise, and let your mind, body and soul recuperate at certain points.
If you ignore these essentials, life is going to seem a whole lot harder in general. Take the time to be healthy. It initially takes more effort but you will thank yourself down the road.
#6 Reward yourself
If you’ve made the effort to be productive and not just “busy”, you’ve stopped saying yes to every single thing, you’ve prioritized what you need to get done, stopped procrastinating, and remained healthy through it all, then it’s time to congratulate yourself and do some celebrating.
The fact is most people are extremely busy, but if you’ve accomplished something, you should take the time to reward yourself for a job well done! It’s important to take the time out of your schedule *no matter how busy you are* to acknowledge what you’ve done.
Whatever a reward may be for you, make sure to indulge. Go for a nice meal, buy yourself that new pair of shoes, or lock yourself away for a weekend and finally finish the book series you’ve been obsessing about. If you’re constantly too busy, and don’t stop to enjoy life when you can, then what’s the point at all?
Stop talking, and start working in a smart way
Bottom line, don’t be like Andy and only glorify what it means to be busy. If you are in fact busy, like many of us truly are, get a handle on your schedule. It is possible to be busy and productive. To stop doing everything you’re asked, to narrow your focus and get it all finished. It is possible to find a balance if you are willing to put in the extra effort, and work in a way that is smart.
My last note on Andy
It can be very helpful to vent to a close friend if you are feeling completely overwhelmed by your chaotic life. But, beware that you aren’t just ranting about things you should be doing, instead of actually making progress on getting them done. Don’t brag about being busy, instead use a few of these tips to tackle your busy life in a world that often demands a whole lot from a single person.