Are you too busy for yourself?

Are you too busy for yourself?

Being busy, or too busy, or even simply appearing to be busy has become a social commodity. “Work is going good, I’ve been really busy”, “I’m too busy this weekend to catch up, I’ve got so much going on”, “Don’t reply to their message straight away! You need to seem busy”. Whether it is at work, with friends, or even in relationships, being busy now seems to mean you’re important, you’re wanted, you’re needed. It gives you a superficial value, that really doesn’t exist, and quite frankly isn’t as great as we think it is.

Being too busy for others is one thing, but being too busy for YOU is significantly more problematic. Placing such high value on busy-ness, and constantly feeling the need to do more can lead to unhappiness, decreased productivity, loss of identity, frustration, and a life flashing before your eyes. Many of us can feel guilty about taking down time, scheduling in something just for us. Not your kids, or partners, or parents, or friends; just for YOU. This needs to change. Our beliefs, our excuses need to shift.

As Jane Faulkner, Gestalt psychotherapist, registered nurse and yoga teacher suggested in her article six steps for greater inner peace, “Our lives are so fast paced, it is easy to forget the simple things that nourish us and bring us peace, time with loved ones, time alone to just be and time in nature.”

“But I’ll be bored!”

Since when is boredom such a bad thing? After all, nothing new comes from doing the same thing. Creativity thrives in a space of boredom. Remember when you were kids? Before the days when seemingly every child was distracted by a tablet or phone. With siblings or friends, when you had nothing to do, or were told to go play outside, what happened? You got creative, you made up new games, you shared those games with friends – your creativity thrived when you were bored. You made up rules, characters adventures. Boredom can feel uncomfortable, and from that discomfort your creativity thrives.

When I am stuck, when there is a cross roads, a decision to be made, or a problem to be solved, sometimes the more I spend thinking about it, the worse it gets. It goes around and around in my head, with nothing ever actually being done, no decision ever being made, nothing new ever being created. I get frustrated. Yet I don’t want to take time away from it, because it’s important! Then I force myself to step away, I force myself to stop thinking, give time back to me. I step away from what I think I am ‘meant’ to be doing, and just do me. I laugh, I disconnect, I reconnect; without trying to distract myself, I just be. Sometimes it’s five minutes, other times it’s an hour, maybe even a day. When I go back to the problem I had, the decision that needed to be made, everything just clicks. A path that was always there, yet I never saw, becomes obvious.

“But I have all this work to do!”

Everyone always has work to do, even when there’s no work to do, people can still manage to find more work to do. How long can you work before your productivity starts decreasing? No matter how productive you are, everyone has their limits. Everyone has their time, and I guarantee if you stopped and observed yourself, you would know exactly what your time is. We all do this already, between pulling out our phones to check social media or to play games, or walk over to our colleagues’ desk just because, or go to the bathroom again without actually needing to go. Whether it be taking five minutes out of every hour, or one day out of every month, or whatever you need to motivate you to do as much of your best work, when you’re actually working.

With everyone I’ve spoken to over the years, one crucial aspect of what separates a good manager from a great manager is their capacity to maximise their teams’ productivity. To get the most out of the people they manage requires them to know, and encourage that they take time for themselves. Taking breaks, giving time to yourself, superficially may seem like ‘wasted time’, but actually it can not only increase the amount of work you do, but further maintain or even improve the quality of work being produced.

“But I’m just too busy; I don’t have any spare time”

The reality is, all any of us really has is time. It is the ultimate resource; it is something we are all bound by. Time is an inevitability of existence, it’s through which change occurs. All of us have an unknown, yet finite amount of time, being affected by too many variables to list. As we get older, it appears to move faster, yet it never really does. Who you are is necessarily built upon every moment of time that has passed. Who you will become is moulded where what little time you have left is spent. Who do you want to become? Where do you want your time to go?

Before you know it, it’s the end of the day, the end of the week, the month, the year. A lifetime can flash by. You look back and feel like you haven’t had a moment to yourself. Do you even know who you are, or who you want to be anymore? If it’s not work, it’s family, or friends, or activities, or simply organising to do more. You say yes, as to not want to disappoint. You say yes, out of the fear of potentially missing out. You say yes, out of feeling guilty about saying no. You say yes to putting everyone and everything before you even believe it’s okay to say yes to putting yourself first.

“But I feel selfish”

Here’s the thing, if you’re feeling selfish you’ve missed the point of what you’re actually doing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a common feeling that arises when people put themselves first; however it’s a misplaced feeling. How do you get around this? Well, you feel guilty, or selfish, because you don’t believe you deserve the time you’re giving yourself. So, you need to start understanding your value, and more importantly accept that you provide value to those around you. Once you trust your value, you will start to believe that you are deserving of time. Beyond this, once you understand the value you provide, you’ll realise that for you to give the most back, to reach your maximum value potential, you need to be at your best.

Whether it be what you do for your friends, or how you look after your family, the quality of work you produce, or what you’re able to give back to society each day; you need to be rested, happy, healthy, inspired, and energetic to do what you do best. The time you schedule in for yourself allows you to be the best version of you. Sure, you can always push through it, but all of us have a limit before we burn out. Once we burn out, we shift from providing to needing. It’s better we take the time each day, week, month, year for ourselves, take a break, give something back to ourselves, and enjoy that process. The alternative is we deny ourselves this right, this need, and we burn out. We end up taking time off anyway, yet we are sick, unhappy, and struggle to enjoy the time we are forced to take; rather than enjoy the time we could have chosen.

All of this is easier said than done, so start small, and take it slow. What’s important is that you realise your value, and that you are deserving of giving time to yourself. Don’t allow your fears, or the judgements of others prevent you from doing this. Remember being busy is superficially valuable; it does nothing to further your health, your wellbeing, your happiness, or your capacity to give back to others.

The next time you find yourself saying “I’m too busy”, and believing that can’t change, stop and look at where your time is going. Stop, and remember your value. Stop, and consciously schedule time in for YOU. Because YOU deserve it.

Rest and resilience are the principles of wellness and key topics in the Australasian Sustainable Wellness Academy’s wellness programs.

Wellness training and development programs

Adam Schwartz is an in demand Australian speaker, author, and advocate of hope and empowerment. Adam draws upon his own mental health experience to share the message of meaningful engagement to educate and inspire others to lead healthy, positive lives.