Once, I confessed to my best friend that I was constantly feeling overwhelmed.
I was trying to sustain an evening job, a perfect GPA, a thriving freelancing career and a bubbly social life. and it was sapping all my energy. For the first time in my life, 24 hours a day were not enough.
Instead of the cliché ‘You need to slow down’ pep talks that a normal friend would say, she recommended a book.
I still turn to Laura Vanderkam’s, 168 Hours: You Have More Hours Than You think whenever I find myself feeling “That busy!”. In her book, she gives tips on how to slip out of the ‘busyness culture’ and make the most out of your 168 hours a week. That was my game changer.
I know I’m not the only one. Truth is, not all of us are born with high aptitudes for multitasking, and that’s okay. Everyone thinks being ‘very busy’ is an accomplishment. It is not. Being too busy is draining and counter-productive. It will submarine other aspects of your life. Learning how to not be busy is the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far, it borders an art.
So what’s the trick?
Say Yes to What Matters
In the process of trying to stop squeezing everything in 24 hours, I realized something. I was constantly saying yes to every plan, even those they didn’t look like benefited me at all.
- Do you want to go out for a drink after work?
- I’m down.
- House warming on Saturday?
- Hit me up!
- Your puppy is turning two this Friday?
- Let’s celebrate that!
- You want me to attend a party I know nothing about?
- I’m in.
It was too much
I barely had time to catch up with myself. Once I learned to unapologetically say No, the second part of my life began.
I started turning down freelance opportunities simply because I needed time off. I stopped being at parties I didn’t want to be at. I started putting myself first. And it made a lot of difference.
Quit having the people-pleasing mentality, prioritize, and focus only on what fills your life with untold joy!
Maybe you could try this out too.
How to do that? Have a look at our suggestions:
Delegate a Little Bit More
If you find yourself being overly engaged for a better part of your day, then there’s a high chance you are overloading yourself. Normally, some of us find it hard to outsource tasks, especially if you subscribe to the perfectionist way of doing things.
You may feel like delegating is a gamble, or that no one can fit in your shoes when it comes to getting things done.
Delegation can be a good start if you are trying to declutter your busy schedule. I have personally found this to be a more practical way of being less busy and shifted my focus from the theoretical ways spewed all over the internet.
I’m not the only one
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group is the biggest propagator of delegation and says it has worked well for him. He says, “…a leader must learn to delegate. I learned earlier in my career that one of the smartest things a leader can do is hire people who excel in areas they are weaker in.”
Delegation is a key survival skill, especially in the executive and cooperate world although it is not limited to these sectors.
Learn to give extra responsibilities to other people. You may be surprised at how good they turn out!
Chew only what you can swallow
This simply translates to dividing big chunks into smaller, manageable bits of work. We tend to set goals that have delicious covers but are impractical on the ground and end up weighing us down. We are constantly in a hurry to check things off our list regardless of how big they are, and this is where the trouble starts.
You want to write more than 3 reports overnight, lose 20 pounds in two weeks, and be a millionaire by next year.
Come on, you don’t have to swim upstream all the time as motivational books tell us. It’s okay to sit down, take a deep breath and slow down.
One prolific tip of having a less busy schedule is to break down large projects into bite-sized tasks. Shift your focus to making progress instead of accomplishing big amazing feats. Do what you can today, and leave the rest for tomorrow.
Pay Attention to Your Attention, And Focus On Your Focus
Do you know the most annoying part about ‘being too busy’? The fact you still constantly feel unaccomplished. If you are going to be busy, then at least make something out of it and let it count.
We waste our most productive hours doing the least productive things and end up spilling unfinished tasks into our free time. We end up spending too much time getting less work done.
Truth is, this is not an isolated problem and we are not alone in this!
Selena Gomez is among the celebrities who have resorted to digital detoxing as a de-stressing measure and it has worked wonders! She told Us Weekly that she cut down her mobile consumption for almost three months. She says that it works wonders and helped her focus on other meaningful aspects of her life.
As insignificant as it may appear on the surface, all the meaningless fluff you engage in cost you large chunks of productivity.
Try focusing on your productive hours and getting most of your work done during these hours. This will go a long way in birthing a more productive you.
Find A Compulsive Escape
Research shows that leisure can help you manage your time better and generally improve your quality of life. When you rest, you give your body a break and allow your brain to recharge. This, in turn, enables you to be over more productive and will make you feel less busy.
Find something that intrigues you, whether its cycling hard, video gaming, walking your dog or just laying down and staying calm.
Set some time off your busy schedule to engage your mind in something entirely different from your routine life. Also, let your leisure time be exclusively and strictly reserved for leisure.
Multi-tasking during your leisure time will have you feeling constantly engaged and busy, and this is what we’re trying to overcome.
We can’t help being so busy sometimes and it can take a toll on us. If you’ve been trying to declutter your schedule and escape from the ‘busy’ trap, maybe you could try out some of the tips above.
This could be the week that turns it all around for you!