How to Thrive When You’re "Too Busy"
It’s been so long since my last blog post, I almost feel the need to reintroduce myself. They say for a blog to have an impact you need to be consistent, and I’m pretty sure they mean more than three posts per year. But here we are. And to be candid, it’s been for good reasons. This past year has been the busiest I’ve ever been in my career, (insert cheer and happy dance here) and I‘ve learned a few things along the way.
The short story: I cannot do it all. Not very well, at least.
Although that revelation is as logical as they come, it hasn’t stopped me from trying to do #AllTheThings in the past. This fast paced, more-is-better world we live in makes it easy to feel like the only way you’ll be successful is to say yes to everything, overpack your schedule, and run yourself into the ground. Throw in a serious fear of falling behind or missing a “once in a lifetime” opportunity and you’ll be headed for burnout and failure in no time! Not to mention, busy is practically the enemy of true productivity. Whew, I’ve been there many times and it’s so not fun.
My dad told me once, “Jen, you don’t have to have it all right now.” Even though I should be used to unsolicited parental advice at this point in my life, I still had to throw in a hard eye roll as I said, “yeah yeah, Dad, I know,” through the safety of the phone.
I like the idea of doing and having it all. I’m not a naturally content person, nor am I very patient (yes I know, it’s a fantastic combo. I’m working on it. Eric would appreciate your prayers in the meantime). Basically if I had a theme song it would be Queen’s I Want It All (and yes I do, in fact, want it now).
So this past year, when I began focusing more seriously on growing my business, I knew a shift needed to be made for me to succeed and not let my health suffer. Because when you work for yourself, there’s no time to flounder. And as it turns out, my Dad was right. But don’t tell him I said that.
These are just a few things that helped me:
I Stopped Pursuing Balance
And more than that, I became okay with letting go of the idea of a well-balanced life. What even is balance, exactly? Ask anyone and the answer is sure to differ for each person. I’m not sure when the idea of balance took the place of perfectionism, but from what I’ve witnessed that’s essentially what it is (just a much sneakier version).
A “well-balanced” life is a rather relative idea and can often be elusive due to the fluidity of life. Especially when your work is seasonal. I suppose if you have a relatively predictable schedule, and having a 50:50 work to life balance is your top priority and goal, it’s definitely possible.
But I’m personally not in that category. I know in order for me to reach some of my goals, I’ll have give a lot more than 50% of my time and energy. My job goes through seasons, and there are times when I need to work way more than rest.
So instead of focusing on that perfect ratio, I buckled down and got ready to work hard. At first I was nervous that I may hit burnout, but it’s actually been one of the most invigorating seasons of my life, because I’m focused on the purpose behind it.
I Learned that Saying Yes is also Saying No
Anytime you say yes to something, another thing known or not, is going to suffer. Which is why we have to be very intentional about what we commit to. I’ve become a lot pickier in what I say yes to, making sure it’s not something I absolutely do not want to suffer. Does it align with my most important goals? Does it fit my purpose? Is it important to me? Does it support the best version of myself? Is it pertinent to my current goals/work, or is it something that I can do later?
If it’s not an absolute yes, then it’s a hell no.
I Focused On Things That Impacted my “Bottom Line” the Most
This goes for my business and my health. I love yoga, but I haven’t been to a class in I can’t remember how long. Right now, it’s much more time efficient for me to get in a quick HIIT workout or run. Both of those styles of exercise support how I like to feel too. I’ll get back to yoga, but until then, I’m making the most of my time and still keeping my health a priority.
The main reason I haven’t blogged in months or been that active on social media is because I don’t actually get paid to do it. While I enjoy it and do think they’re great ways to connect, share information and inspiration, I had to put them on the back burner while I adjusted to my new workload. I knew I’d get back to it, but I had to focus on my clients first and foremost. There are so many things I want to do with my business, and just because I can’t do them all right now, doesn’t mean I won’t ever get to do them.
When you have a new workload or a major life change, your brain has to create new nuro pathways, which expends more calories than normal. So it takes a little time to become accustomed to the energy you have to use. It’s similar to exercise. It may wear you out in the beginning, but over time you’ll build up endurance, and you’ll have space and energy for other things. So during the seasons when time and energy are limited and somethings got to give, make sure it’s not something thats integral to your business or overall health.
I Stopped Being Dramatic
While I’ve definitely been busier than normal, I’m certainly not the busiest person in the entire world. I mean I’m not Oprah. So instead of focusing on all the things I have to do and complaining about them, I’ve tried to stop the glorification of “busy” in my life. It’s tempting to do this because it makes it seem like I’m more successful.
The glorification of busy is horrible for 2 reasons: 1: it gives us a false sense of success based on how full our schedules are, and those two things do no always correlate. And 2) being busy means we’re likely rushing and then missing out on some really great parts of life. When we rush we don’t do our best work, we don’t have time to actually experience life, and we definitely don’t have time to help others in need.
I have to check myself, because you know what doesn’t help me make the most of my busy schedule? Spiraling out and complaining about how “busy” I am all the time. Instead, I’ll make a to-do list, writing down everything I need to accomplish that day starting with the most important to the least. Getting things out onto paper helps us save mental energy, and gives us a better chance of actually remembering what it is we need to do. A cluttered mind is not productive, and when your schedule is packed, productivity is a necessity.
You’ll get it done. And if you don’t your world probably won’t fall apart.
I Don’t Demonize My Work
I’m one of the lucky ones, because I genuinely like my job. I love working with people, however I wouldn’t say I enjoy every aspect that comes with being self-employed. I definitely have days where I’d love a day in between Sunday and Monday, and I occasionally think about what winning the lottery and retiring early would look like. On those days I have to check my negative thoughts and replace them with gratitude.
Work is not a bad thing. It gives us a place to learn new skills, use our gifts/talents, interact with other people, and most importantly live out our divine purpose. If you’re constantly complaining about your job I’d strongly suggest you look inward to see if you need an attitude change. If your work place is toxic and truly draining the life out of you, look for something different. You’re not stuck. It might be a scary move, but it’s well worth your happiness.
Being able to work is a privilege. It allows me to afford basic necessities as well as some fun things along the way like travel, good food, and supporting causes I believe in. When I practice gratitude for getting to do what I do for a living, it dramatically impacts my mood and productivity with my workload. It motivates me to work hard and actually helps me feel fulfilled at the end of the day. Even if you hate your job, I encourage you to find at least ONE thing about it to be grateful for. Ruminate on that and see if it helps. Because that feeling is worth every ounce of effort.
I Sought Out Like-Minded Community
One of the most motivating things you can do is to surround yourself with like-minded people. We are much more likely to succeed when we’re working towards a goal with others, even if the goal is a personal one.
When I was craving a little more community and inspiration, I joined a mastermind that was full of amazing and supportive women who were go-getters, driven to push themselves and succeed in their businesses. I received advice on how to move forward, encouragement to get out of my comfort zone, and the push to work harder than ever. And I now have a solid group of women I can call on when I need help or encouragement.
So if your goal is to get healthier, find some other people who are doing what you’d like to be doing. If you want to take the next step in your business, search for groups who are doing the same (you can learn more about the mastermind I did by clicking here if you’re interested)! They’re out there and it’s absolutely worth reaching out!
So if you’re currently finding yourself in a crazy busy season of life, and are starting to feel overwhelmed, just know that you do NOT have to do it all. And it is still 100% possible for you to thrive!