Why Busy(ness) Sucks the Joy Out of You & What To Do About It

One of the reasons we don’t enjoy our life as much as we want to is because of how busy, stressed and overwhelmed we feel.

When I have clients give me a list of all the reasons why they feel so busy, they typically give me a list of all the things they need or want to get done. This is the reason they think they are busy and overwhelmed. Here’s the secret…that’s not really the reason. All these things they listed as on their to-do list are not the reason they feel busy and overwhelmed.

Here is why busyness is so overwhelming and what you can do about it.

It’s a State of Mind

These to-do items and activities are just things that are outside of you. Your list is just a circumstance. Busy and overwhelm and stress are actually feelings and feelings come from our thoughts. This is why I could give the same list to someone different and they wouldn’t feel busy or anxious or overwhelmed. You can have a lot of things on your calendar and not feel busy. That’s because busy doesn’t come from those things outside of you…they come from your thoughts. Busy and overwhelmed is just a state of mind. It’s just the result of a chaotic, mismanaged mind. I don’t say that in a judgemental way. Most of us just aren’t ever taught how to even manage our minds.

We Let It Control Us

Let’s look at how that state of mind impacts us. Many people who are operating from busyness and overwhelm show up to complete a task and then they wait to see how long it takes. This is really common. I teach time management skills to clients and a question I get often when I tell them to schedule in their calendar how long it will take, is “what if I don’t know how long it’s going to take? What if it takes me more than that amount of time?”

My response to that is “what if you only had that amount of time?” Then you would just get it done in that amount of time right? You would just figure out how to make it happen. Think of when you watch the Food Network channel and they are doing those cupcake wars. They are only given a certain amount of time and it must be completed by then. So they make it happen within that time frame. So, what if you decided on a reasonable amount of time for it to take and you just didn’t allow it to take any longer? It’s completely possible. I don’t like to wait to see how long something is going to take me. I decide that I only have an hour to get it done, and then I do it.

If you decided to honor your schedule in that way, you wouldn’t have to be frantic like they are on Cupcake Wars but you would just learn to accomplish the task to the best of your ability in the time that you gave yourself. This would actually teach you how to be super focused because you wouldn’t be able to allow yourself to get distracted or for other people to distract you. You wouldn’t get pulled off task by your email or social media. Yes, sometimes we have to be flexible with kids. But for the most part, I don’t create a to-do list and then wait to see how long each task will take me. I make it fit within the time frame I give it. This is the difference between a mind that is busy and one that is focused and clear.

Busyness Is Learned

Did you know that we actually learn to swirl in busyness? Think about it. As we go through life, we tend to notice that people who are successful in life and accomplish a lot seem to be really busy. So, we take on “busy” as a badge of honor. Like the busier you are, the more you are winning as a Mom. As a society, we tend to think that being really busy means we’re kind of important. It feels like we must be doing something really significant and important if you are really busy.

But it’s all bullcrap!

Being busy doesn’t make us any more important. It doesn’t mean we are doing anything more meaningful or purposeful in the world. It only means that we haven’t figured out how to focus our mind, plan our time, and keep our priorities in order.

We Don’t Like Being Still

Another reason we have so much busyness is that we don’t know how to be still. I know this to be true for my daughter. There is so much stimulus around us that it’s easy not to be still that it’s become quite uncomfortable for us to just sit in our stillness.

We are so used to all the stimulus that many of us don’t even know how to be still. We don’t know how to just sit with our own brains and do nothing except be with our thoughts. Many people don’t give themselves or their kids the opportunity to do that. And they certainly don’t feel comfortable when they do.

The way to get yourself and your kids more comfortable with being still is just to do it. The more you allow yourself to be still, the more comfortable it will get. It doesn’t need to take an enormous amount of time, but you can do that through meditation, journaling or just sitting in the quietness (no TV, no distractions, no sound, no noise) with just your thoughts.

What Really Matters

I want you to think about this and be honest with yourself. Most of the things that we are busy with are things that don’t even really matter. Our brain thinks it’s all really important, but that’s a lie. Our brain tells us, “I have to make dinner. I have to bring the kids to their activitiest and tidy up the house. I have to clean the kitchen.” And the list goes on.

Whatever you are telling yourself you HAVE to do…most of it really doesn’t matter. So that brings up the question, “What does matter?” This is a super important question to ask yourself. Whenever you have a busy week, I want you to write down all the things you think you need to do and then stop and ask yourself “What REALLY matters here?” Your brain will try to tell you it all matters, but don’t buy into that. It’s not true. Your house generally doesn’t HAVE to be clean. The dishes don’t HAVE to be done that day. You don’t HAVE to make dinner. Or take anything to the party. You don’t even have to go to the party. You don’t even HAVE to bring your kids to their activities. Did you know this?

Now, I’m not saying you need to cut those things out of your schedule. I say do anything that sounds fun to you. But if it is causing you to feel overwhelmed, stressed or resentful just don’t do it. If it sounds fun and you can do it, then do it. The point of life is to enjoy it!

“Life is so much brighter when we focus on what truly matters”

Don’t tell yourself you HAVE to do all these things. If you WANT to do them, then tell yourself that. I hear often, “I have to do this because no one else does it.” That story is not serving you Momma! It just puts you in self-pity and resentment and contributes to the feeling of overwhelm and busyness.

Did you know that you can just drop that story? Maybe you decide “I do all this because that’s just who I am and what I like to do. I enjoy doing it and I want to do it.” It’s a completely different story that doesn’t breed overwhelm and resentment.

Take a step back every week and decide what really matters to you. Decide what will create your best life and what you WANT to put your time into. Do you want to look back on your life and think, “I didn’t get to spend a lot of quality time with my family but I had a clean kitchen 90% of the time?”  I want to look back on my life and know that I helped people. Who cares if my laundry is always piled up. It just doesn’t matter.

For me, doing work in the world that helps others matters. Taking care of myself, mentally and physically, so I can help them matters. Having an amazing relationship with my spouse matters. Living a life filled with fun and joy matters. Being there for my family in their time of need matters. Spending quality time with my family matters. Building an amazing relationship with my daughter matters. Everything else can wait.

You decide what really matters to you.

Practice Constraint

Practicing constraint can also help us avoid busyness. It helps us to stay focused on doing one or two things really well, instead of trying to do it all mediocre. It also gives us the space to be alone with ourselves. Yes, that can be uncomfortable. That’s because most of our brains would rather be busy and always on the go instead of having space and downtime. That’s because we don’t know what to do with ourselves when we’re not busy. It makes us feel restless. We don’t even know who we are when we aren’t always doing something. That’s why most of us find ourselves playing on our phones when we say we’re going to sit with our family and watch a movie.

Ask yourself this question. Who are you when you’re not doing all the things you do?

This practice of constraint is useful for our kids as well. They need to know how to be alone and have downtime to just be. My daughter used to have a very busy schedule and she enjoyed what she did and she wanted to do it all (or so she thought), so when we decided to cut her down to one activity I thought for sure she was going to not adjust well to it. I was wrong. As much as she enjoyed everything she did, what she enjoyed, even more, was less pressure and more time to just do whatever she wanted, hang out with her friends and family, and just be a kid. More time to relax after school and more time to do what she wanted on the weekends.

I’m certainly not saying you should cut all things out for you or your family. Just become really conscious about what you allow into your schedule. When you find yourself feeling busy, it’s time to get back in touch with what you are thinking. It’s time to get back in touch with what really matters.

What you will find when you live your life this way, you will notice that you are naturally able to get so much more done and all the things you do will be what matters.

Do you want to feel less stress and overwhelm in your life and better handle all that life throws at you? Subscribe to my email list to get bite-size tips and insights into creating the life you want and experiencing more joy.


Stacy R. Landry

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