It seems that we are all perennially busy these days. It’s almost a standard part of a greeting these days: “Hi, how are you?” “Good, busy”.
I sometimes wonder just what we are busy doing? I know that there are things which have to be done. The kids need to be fed and go to school no matter what. My employer seems to require me to do the work they pay me for. But these don’t take up all our time. So what are we busy doing?
Possibly we are busy doing all the things which we feel we should be doing because everyone else is doing them. Or perhaps we fear missing out on something so we do too much. Possibly we just haven’t considered that we don’t have to be so busy.
Of course there are times when being a little busy is unavoidable. Family illnesses always seem to coincide with big work events. But being busy all the time is just not good for our physical or mental health. So if you are always on the go, here are some ideas to reduce the busy in life:
– Avoid too many after school activities – with multiple children doing multiple activities, you could easily find yourself dragging kids around every day after school. While some kids love doing pottery, ballet, tap dancing, French, netball, and piano, it doesn’t give them much down time. Consider limiting the number of extracurricular activities your children do.
Around here, extra curricular activities all require lots of travel, so we do very few. Hannah learns piano, but her lesson is during school time at school. During the summer the kids do swim club. That is the sum total of our extra curricular activities. I love that we get so much time to spend at home as a family, and that our children have plenty of unstructured time to play, read, draw, create, and just be. I love that Hannah sometimes spends an hour just lying in the grass on a spring day.
– Another way to reduce our busyness is by eliminating unnecessary household tasks that take away our time. For example, I don’t iron. Clothes get hung up straight off the line. Sheets etc get folded and put away. The only time I might iron is if Country Boy or myself need an out fit for a wedding (or similar). That is it!
– Stop shopping so often – We started shopping less frequently when we moved to the country. It just was so inefficient to go to town every week for half a day. We switched to shopping monthly and making do with what we have in between. Not having to go to town every Saturday not only saves a lot of time, but it also saves us money – double win!
– If you’re in the position to do so, consider outsourcing some of those tasks that need doing but suck time away from the family. Ironing (if you have to iron), cleaning, mowing, simple DIY/home maintenance, even some cooking are all easy to out source, and though they cost money, it might be worth it to reclaim family time.
– Accept that you can’t do everything, and say no – easier said than done, I know! But realistically, there is only so much time and energy you have available, so you need to be able to say no to those things that take away time from what is important. Start by saying no to little things.
– Embrace the idea that we don’t have to be busy – society tells us that to be important and worthwhile, we need to be ‘productive’. Of course this is not true. It is OK to not have anything planned on a weekend. If you find yourself with nothing to do for an hour, enjoy it. Don’t jump up and find something that ‘has’ to be done. White space in your day is important – it gives your brain time to decompress, so schedule it in. The reality is, after a bit of down time, you are more likely to be productive.
– Simplify other parts of your life. If you have less stuff, and keep what you have fairly organised, you will spend less time looking after your stuff.
Ultimately, if your life is too busy, it is not going to change unless you do something about it.
Are you always busy? What strategies do you use to keep the busyness at bay?