Full, Not Busy

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

As I sit here writing this post, I realize how productive I've been in the past week. I have times like that, where my energy levels ebb and flow, and this happens to be one of those times when I've been particularly adept at finishing up projects and crossing things off the to do list. I like the word 'productive.' I never want to be known as the alternative - busy. I don't want anyone else to comment on how busy I am, and I certainly never want to say the words 'I'm so busy lately.' It's a true four letter word to me.


Busyness is not a badge of honor and I can't stand when it's made out to be. It's nothing to be proud of, it's not a mark of success, but it's so prevalent anyway. 'I had to get up at 5:30 this morning to make cupcakes for a bake sale.' 'Well I had to get up at 5 to take Emma to ice skating and then a dentist appointment.' 'Well I....' and on and on and on, a constant competition of who is busier and therefore who is more important. I wish that went out the window during the quarantine but sadly, we're right back at it.

Do your loved ones ever say to you 'I know you're busy but...'? Does it make you cringe? That the people you care about think you don't have time to listen to them or help them or know what's going on in their lives? Busyness is rushed living with no margin, it's chaos with no time for recharging, and it's making everyone else around you feel like they're an inconvenience or burden whenever they want to talk with you. So clearly a busy life does not make a person important or worthy simply based on the fact they have the most packed calendar.

Busy is always putting out fires and playing catch up. It's reactionary, allowing other people decide how your time will be spent, always on the move. I refuse. I refuse to live a hamster wheel life that I secretly hate solely so other people trapped in the same cycle think I'm successful. This stress-ridden nightmare strips away all the meaningful parts of life. I need to be better at saying no, at prioritizing, and at removing the guilt from doing so.

So instead, I think of my life as full. Full of life, full of energy, strength, commitment, joy. Full is satisfying. It is a limit, and I get to decide that limit. I do the things that are necessary but then I also get to do the things that matter to me, that give me life. I make progress in my pursuits and have margin in my days. I'm productive, not busy - two very different things.

My life is far from perfect but it is full of good things, hard work, things to look forward too and there's plenty of time to rest and breathe. Because life is about more than my calendar engagements. Boundaries on my time have proven so necessary, but no one else will draw those boundaries for me.

A full day looks a lot different than my busy ones used to. It's starting with a skincare routine and conversation over coffee with John, listening to podcasts and YouTube videos while I cook breakfast and straighten up the kitchen, taking a long, slow walk with the dog and doing some housework, all before checking the calendar. There might be some blog post writing or decorating for Halloween. And yes, bill paying and laundry. There's definitely room for unplanned conversations with my mom and happy hour with John or my parents, and time for watching the yard cats play with the falling leaves.

What matters is that everything that needs to get done still gets done, and if it doesn't, it can move to tomorrow because it's just not that important. And that's okay. It doesn't mean that those things don’t have value or worth, that I don't have value or worth. My worth is not defined by busy.

We're entering into the busiest time of year for everyone - try saying no more, quitting anything that's not a top priority. So you can mindfully curate your schedule and say yes to only the very best things. You weren't any less important or worthy in March and April when couldn't do anything, so don't fall into that trap now.