Everywhere I look people are claiming being busy and having a dabble with every single pot is the way to being successful and a “girl boss”. Some have said to me that keeping busy helps to ease mental health issues whilst others have openly declared being busy as a sign of strength.
In fact for a while recently I too became guilty of glorifying busy by talking about how it was so good to do X, Y and Z in one day in such a way that implies it was only good because it was coupled with other events and that is not true. With honesty, I would rather take longer to do one thing and get to enjoy it and soak it up fully than rush it; much like going on holiday and spending a whole day inside one museum rather than trying to visit three to claim you “went there and seen it”.
But being busy is exhausting and there is no shame in admitting that or wanting to do less on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. One person can have a quieter diary than another but still end up doing more as another result of more flexibility and time to focus on a specific element.
Trying to buy into the need to be busy has almost killed me. For the last couple of months I have scheduled to work six days a week, attend numerous council selection meetings to adjudicate them, go to general politics meetings, keep up to date with friends, do my blog and keep the flat in some sort of order whilst managing to find time for my partner too! It has not only been impossible to maintain that level of momentum for so long but frankly it has been idiotic. A week or two of busy is possible but doing it for weeks on end is not sustainable; this has gone beyond burning wicks at both ends and instead just flinging the whole candle into a fire.
And all that is influenced by the people I see online that frame their accounts in a way of “busy busy busy”, the inspirational quotes that people share online and those around me talking about everything they get up to. We all end up falling into a vicious cycle of desperately needing to show off every event in our lives and getting validation from other people about the activities, and amount of them, that we do.
Every single person needs to balance out their day to day routine to make it sustainable and to give them time to do things they enjoy and see people they love. Having to take one day of your weekend as a lazy recovery day is perfectly acceptable and, at least to me, seeing a picture of snacks, films and with a caption of “doing nothing other than eating my weight in biscuits and watching terrible rom-coms” is just as wonderful as seeing a picture of you hailing a cab with the caption “meeting six done. Onto the seventh before grabbing lunch and having a few more”. Self-care is essential to your life so it is perfectly legitimate to either put it on your feed or have a quiet day once or twice a week… EVEN, yes EVEN, if social media stuff is your job you should still be remembering your employee rights and granting yourself a day a week off.
At times it really feels like people are so busy with being busy and scoring busy points to say they are winning at life that they are actually letting life pass them by. Recently I have tried to take a step back from everything, look around me, breath in the morning air (not too hard in London though) and put at least an hour in my day where I do nothing other than look after me and do what makes me happy.
What is the point in doing all these things in life to pay the rent, save up for a holiday or to buy that new hobby based item if you have no time to appreciate the place you live other than to cook and sleep there, to be so exhausted you spend your entire holiday trying to bring your energy levels back to zero again or to pick that item up once every few months? There is no point. Balance is essential to everything; our diet, our sleeping pattern and our diary too.
If you set yourself one New Year Resolution going into 2018 make it something that gives you more you time.
- Don’t check your work emails once you leave the office. If needs be turn on an out of office response to redirect people emailing you. You have left work and you do not need to constantly remained switched on.
- Sometimes have that bath when you consider it but normally end up having a shower instead because you have other things to do that evening. I bet those other things include putting some washing on, ironing, hoovering or some other task that can wait an extra 45 minutes.
- If you have nail polish but rarely find yourself with any applied then carve some time out once a week to make it possible. Even put it in your diary one evening if that will help get you into the routine. You deserve to ‘treat yourself’ and feel good and swish every time you look at your hands!
- Remember it is okay to say no. Say no to the extra shift, if you can afford it. Say no to somebody asking to meet at 9pm if you will be out from 6am that day already.
- Take the time to consider your language. Go ahead and say you have had ten meetings in a day but be honest and say you are shattered and just want to get home and wipe your makeup off, put your pj’s on and catch up on your favourite TV show. That does not make you weak, it makes you real.
- Spend that extra ten minutes preparing and cooking that vegetable you really like doing in a specific way but never do because it is a bit more hassle. Consider how much more satisfaction you are going to get out of that meal by putting a few more minutes into it.
- Put that item away straight away. How many times do you say to yourself “I will put that away later as I’m a bit busy now” but in doing so you end up having to carve out a solid block of time to put numerous items away and reorganise things because so much stuff has come out the spot it won’t all go back in perfectly? Exactly. Spend that 30 seconds putting that item straight away and future you will love you for it.
- Go and enjoy soup and a cup of tea in your local cafe for lunch. Talk to the staff there. Pick up a book from their community library bookshelf to flick through. Put the phone down. Watch the world go by. My favourite place is The Tram Stop cafe in Croydon (the featured image is an example of the delights they have to offer) but I only know that by forcing myself to take time out of my life to wander around my local spots and try them out.
What are your tips to managing being busy and appearance you give to others?