3 STEPS TO BEATING THE "BUSY" TRAP

Sep 18, 2016 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

I’ve got a whole Sunday to do whatever I want.

Once in a while, these days come around. I don’t have to be anywhere; I don’t have to take care of anyone; I don’t have to do anything.

But, of course, I still do. And when someone asks me how my day was, I feel the need to list all of the things I got done so that people think I’m just as busy as they are, or at least that I wasn’t totally lazy.

But why?

Why do I and so many of us feel the need to let others know that we haven’t “wasted” one second of our precious time? Why do we feel like we have to schedule every minute and then feel guilty if we take time to relax or just stare at the leaves on a tree or watch a spider spin a web?

I did some of that today. I noticed the leaves on the tree outside my balcony are beginning to change. It’s still 90 degrees here, but signs of fall are starting to emerge. I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t taken the time to just be still and look.

Of course, then I got up to strip the beds, do a few loads of laundry, cook a little for the week ahead and groom the dog. I also checked social media a lot. Too much, really.

Was I busy? Yep, at least for a portion of the day.

Was it important work? Not really. I didn’t have to do the beds and laundry today, and I’ll likely wind up cooking again during the week. It was all stuff that could have been saved for another day, when my brain was too tired to think and physical work would be the only thing I could do.

So not only was I “busy,” but I was busy doing things that weren’t the most important things I could be doing today.

What IS the most important thing for me to do is write, and I spent the first part of my day not doing any of that. What I realized was all this “busy-ness” was just a waste of time. I got things done, but I didn’t get the most important thing done. I didn’t follow my priorities and values and take advantage of this gift of a Sunday.

Luckily I came to this realization with half the day still to go, but it’s a hard thing to keep in mind.

Interestingly, I don’t regret staring at the tree and noticing the changing leaves. I feel like the was refreshing. But I do regret all my busy-ness. I can’t do much about the past now, but here’s what I’ll try to keep in mind in the future, when one of these free days rolls around again.

Decide early to do the important stuff

I knew I wanted to write today, but putting it off until after all the other unimportant stuff made it the least important thing on my to-do list. I should have decided last night, when I wrote out my to-do list, to do the writing first thing. I would have felt like I was sticking to my priorities, and I wouldn’t be trying to make my brain function in oppressive heat.

First things first

That is, if your priorities and important items are first on your to do list, well, then, do them first in the day. Prioritize that to-do list with the most important, value-adding tasks getting done before any of the other stuff. Because once you get on a roll cleaning or baking or whatever, you’re not going to get to the things that matter, and that un-scheduled Sunday will get frittered away.

Don’t worry about other people

Yup, that’s right. I said it. I am going to try to remember not to care what people think if I didn’t do much on my ONE. FREE. DAY. When someone asks me how my weekend was, I’m going to try for the opposite tactic that I’ve been employing. That means I’ll try to wow them with how unbusy my time was. “Relaxing,” I’ll say. “I wrote and took my dog to the dog park and ate some ice cream.”

That last part about the ice cream isn’t true … yet.

How do you make the most out of a free day?

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Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.