Four Ways to Break the “Busy” Cycle

Question for you… On a scale of 1-10, how busy would you say you are?

With so many conveniences to make our lives “easier” it seems more and more I hear exhausted people talk about how busy they are and how they don’t know if they can manage it all.

When I talk with parents, sometimes I ask, “what do you do for fun?” The eyes go blank. There is a long silence. The clients almost seem stunned. I often hear them say they have no idea what they do for fun because they can’t remember the last time they had time to do that.

Author Edward Hallowell asserts “we don’t know how to not be busy.” Interesting.

I have a bold claim: you do not have to be so busy. Sure, there will always be seasons when circumstances require a hectic pace. But, if this is the constant state of your life, if you can’t remember when you weren’t running ragged, then you might want to do some soul searching. Often the busy schedules that make us crazy result from our own choices.

Let’s take a look at some actions you can take to make progress and bring some much-needed space back into your daily life!

1. Check your thinking.

Do you feel you have to be busy to be important? Would you be embarrassed to tell someone you read a book, took a walk with your partner, and actually took a nap over the weekend? In modern culture, we’ve made it a bit of a status symbol to busy. Hmmmm…

Does that create what you want?

2. Get clear on what matters to you.

We all have things that are at the core of who we were made to be, better known as our “values.” Deep relationships, achievement, family, adventure, freedom, generosity, etc., are examples of such values. If creating space in life is important to you, much benefit comes when you get clear on your priorities. The ironic thing is that most people are running so fast, they don’t take the time to even consider what they really want in life. No wonder the stress level intensifies when the schedule reacts to the many opportunities and choices that bombard every day. Create space, get clear on your values, and move forward in the strength that comes from that clarity!

3. Learn to say “no.”

I can almost see your face contorting. Saying “no” often seems worse than nails on a chalkboard. We fear what people will think. We feel guilty. We think our child will never make it in the world unless they participate in all of these “opportunities.” How will they ever excel if they don’t get started now?

Let me encourage you to reread #2. Get clear on what matters to you.

Once your values are clarified, the most powerful step toward breaking the busy cycle is saying no to commitments that don’t line up. One example of how we apply this in our family is that our children only participate in one activity at a time. Yes, we want to develop their skills, but we also highly value time together as a family. We are confident that their talents can develop in ways other than organized activities full of time commitments that bog down all of the space in our life. This is just one example of how we apply our values in our home. There are certainly many other, and different, ways this principle plays out.

I love seeing the relief in those I work with when they decline something. They are often amazed at how easy it is. The world keeps spinning. The weight from their shoulders lifts. They experience a deeper peace. Life expands.

4. Say yes to what matters most.

This is the FUN part. Imagine what life will feel like when you fill your days with the things that are of greatest importance to you and your family! When you clarify values and say no to things that don’t line up, you can begin to say yes to things you cherish with confidence! Great joy and peace come to those who align their lives with the things that truly matter. Example? Does it matter that you are a life-giving, joy-filled person in this world? Then making time to do something fun for yourself might actually make it into your schedule. And when you’ve said “no” to some other things, the space will actually be there.