I Can’t, I’m Too Busy

I Can't I'm Too Busy - The Calm Collective

If I had a dime for every time I said: “I can’t, I’m too busy,” I’d be rich. 

Like, filthy rich. 

One night last week, around 5pm, I was sitting on the couch and could feel a total meltdown coming on. The whole day I had been in a fog. A complete haze. It had been kind of a weird day in general so I just chalked it all up to that and continued to sit in total silence on the couch with a glass of vino while I thought about everything and nothing at the same time.

Have you been there? (please say yes)

All of this stems from a personality trait that I both love and loathe about myself. I’m a person of structure, so a to-do list is a must.  And I consider myself a super productive person, but to a fault.

If something doesn’t get crossed off my to-do list on Monday and carries on to Tuesday? I’m in a full blown fight with myself about how I must have been lazy at some point during the day. Or saying things like, “how could you let that go undone?” That whole self love project I’ve been working on? It’s a total progress piece.  One step forward, two steps back. Four steps forward, two steps back, etc.

It feels like every day, I hit some sort of a wall. I’ve come to find that this is because my system is a total bust. It’s unattainable, and it isn’t fair.  I’ve set myself up to be busy 100% of the time, and relaxed 0% of the time, and I couldn’t really figure out when this all started, or why… until that night on the couch.  You know, the meltdown. 

I’ve let myself believe for so long that I’m only successful, worthy, or kicking ass if I’m “busy.”  So you know, if I make up things  that I “need” to do in order to fill a blank page, rather than reward myself with a day off, I’m going to list things out until I’m blue in the face.

Enter: The Top 3 Method. 

This is something I decided to start trying out late last week, and so far, it’s been a total life/game changer.

Each evening before I go to bed, I grab my iPad and open up my Reminders. I make a new list, and call it TOP 3 ___ (day of the week)

I enter in the 3 things that are the most improtant to get done (generally having to deal with client deadlines) for example:

  • Edit and deliver shoots
  • Draft up invoice, contract and send
  • Final draft on album, process order

Once those three things are done, I KNOW in my bones that anything that gets accomplished after that is just a bonus. But it isn’t NECESSARY. Those 3 things? Those will make or break my reputation as a small business owner if they aren’t completed.  But the others? They can wait. (and wait they shall)

Now, my days haven’t only been consisting of 3 things and then I’m done until the next (I wish).  But what I’ve done to keep myself in check, is after the 3rd and final task is completed, I’ll set at timer for 60 minutes – do the next task I’d like to get done (say, pre-blog for the week, answer emails that came in that day, or work on some taxes) Once that timer is up, I’ll play with Jasper, watch a TV show, take a nap, eat a snack.. or whatever I feel like doing in that moment, and then repeat.

Having that break, that sound to remind you that YOU CAN STOP NOW BECAUSE YOU’RE ONLY ONE PERSON AND THERE ARE ONLY 24 HOURS IN THE DAY! It’s necessary, and it’s so helpful.

“I can’t, I’m too busy” is a phrase that I hate and it’s one that I want to stop using all together. It doesn’t have a sexy ring to it, it isn’t cool to be frazzled, and quite frankly, being busy doesn’t mean anything other than your priorities aren’t really in check.  I don’t want to lose myself in the mundane busy tasks.  I don’t want to ignore my puppy or my friends because of false timelines that I’ve made up.

We should never be too busy to fill our days with things that bring us joy. 

For me, those things include:

  • A good work out
  • Organizing (nerd alert)
  • Being outside
  • Simplifying/organizing my home
  • Reading a good book
  • Cuddling Jasper
  • Writing without agenda
  • FaceTiming with out of town family and friends

Oddly enough, most of those things get put on the back burner every single day, because I convince myself that I have no time.  You know – “I’m too busy.”

That shit has got to stop.

So here’s my plan:

1- Take an hour each day to write just for myself upon waking up. I’ve been keeping a notepad and a pen next to my bed, and it’s been a great way to clear my head first thing.

2- Cuddle Jasper in bed each morning. Don’t be so quick to get the day started. Linger a bit. It’s a luxury I can afford as a small business owner and I don’t take advantage of this enough.

3- Continue my Top 3 approach, and once the work day is done, leave all work materials in my office space.

4- As I mentioned above: set timers for each task (Top 3 as well as the add ons) This timer trick helps me focus on the task at hand instead of thinking that I’m the queen of multi-tasking (no one is good at that. I repeat: no one)

5- Allow myself THREE days of doing whatever I want. (choose from the Joy List!)  Beach, naps, long walks, finish a book in one sitting. Whether that’s Friday through Sunday or Monday-Thursday-Sunday, etc.  Just make sure it’s three.

6- Try and end each day, when able, with some Facetime.

This last one is important for a couple of reasons.

The simple action of just hearing a loved ones voice, let alone seeing their face, is some powerful stuff that I don’t make enough time for. I need that kind of interaction. I crave it on a daily basis.

So the point of this jabbering, novel length blog post is to express my hope to form a healthy habit. One that will become second nature. So that when I’m getting emails after hours, or when I start to pressure myself into doing “just one more thing” – I’ll be able to respond to myself with: “I can’t, I’m too busy.”

Too busy living my life. Too busy chasing joy. 

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