Impressed by busyness? Me neither.
A few weeks ago I did a time-study on myself to understand where my energies go, in an effort to make some healthy changes (that moderation thing requires rebalancing). What am I doing with the best hours of my day? Why am I doing homework at midnight? And other important questions like If I had time to clean out my purse, would I find my missing lipsticks?
Well, the time study wasn’t a pretty picture (duh), as my obligations have grown over the past year. Mostly, in good ways, with the growth of my wellness business and doctoral program pushing the cobwebs out of my brain. But also in frustrating ways, with a growing mound of administrative duties, unscheduled meetings, and random unfinished projects. My reading time is diminished, my gardens look lonely, and basic self-care is waning (helloooo, eye doctor, me thinks I need a script change). Very uncool.
The reality is, I’ve got too much going on at one time to be healthy as I define it. I never want to be that person who proclaims Look at me, I am so busy, I’m working from my traction hospital bed (and able to post about it) because I am so successful/hardworking/stronger than you, You do still love and admire me, right? The ugly truth is, we sometimes keep busy because we don't know how to be still. Because we don't really like what's in our heart and head when we are quiet. It is not the peace that passes all understanding, but rather a tired numbness that has stripped away our sense of purpose.
I will tell you, I’ve been a working mom and a stay-at-home mom and a work-from-home mom, and an active business woman and a volunteer and a caretaker, and many of those things at the same time and it is the toughest season of life. Busyness is not a status symbol, nor does the world respect and love us more for being frazzled and over-scheduled.
I simply don’t want to be that busy anymore. Busyness has crept into my schedule one day while I was, I guess, too busy to notice. Ironically, I coach my clients to examine what’s important to them, and we craft a way to get there. Sometimes that means we look at the things that they want in their lives and the things that can be thrown out. And sometimes we just want it all. But there are seasons of life, and not Every Thing belongs in Every Season. So sometimes we have to prioritize (yep, do that time-study thing) to know if it fits or if the beauty of it will become diminished as it becomes an obligation. Maybe that means the big home garden becomes a few potted herbs or it doesn't happen at all this year. Maybe one of the weekly My kid has to be signed up for everything things has to go, so you can actually have a family dinner each week.
Have you ever done your own time study? It might surprise you to know we squander a lot of our free time on worry and mindless activities (don’t confuse mindless with mindful down time). Maybe you’ll discover some wellness through moderation if you do your own time-study. You might free up some time to do the things that matter with the people who matter, and hand the busy baton off to someone who revels in it.
In my case it means I’m reducing my course load (dissertation breathing room, whew!), revamping my consulting calendar, outsourcing admin duties. I’m putting my clarinet back on the stand just to look at it since lessons aren’t a priority right now. I’m also clustering my activities, and leaving open time for unexpected issues, which happen every week for me, so they should be called Expected Issues.
Don’t get me wrong, I love working and playing, and have no intention of laying in bed eating bonbons all day (don’t know where my late father came up with that saying), but I want to be intentional about those choices rather than a victim of my own schedule. I chose to go after my doctorate to be a better health educator. I chose to start a wellness community at 50 years old. I didn’t choose the challenges that have affected my family and friends the past few years, but I chose to be available. So I’m ok with pushing back some coursework, or admiring my clarinet from my desk, as I have time to honor the things that matter most to me in this season of life. Sing it for some porch time.