"Oh I'm good, I'm just really busy!"
I realised this was my default response when asked how I was.
Lately 'I'm busy' is all I seem to say, and I've just worked 13 days without a break. So what's the deal? Why am I so busy when it's me who controls my workflow?
Between you and I, just thinking about the word 'busy' makes my stomach churn, I'm already feeling the adrenaline kick-in. Oooouffff...how has this become the norm?
Don't get me wrong, I love my work. I really love my work. But that's not a good excuse!
Why this need to appear 'busy'? Am I actually busy, or am I creating busy because I'm programmed to be? Haha, I sound like a drone.
We're conditioned to be busy
Sadly, we've been modified to be busy (and reactive) and believe that it's a good thing. Most of the conditioning is from the golden years in the corporate cage (ahem...job!), where if you have time to think about what you're doing (rather than reacting to it), something is seriously wrong. You either get interrogated or double the workload.
So why this training to be busy all the time? Think about the corporate mindset: busy represents working harder = more ££££ for your company. So go on, get to it! It's all a numbers game, churn it out, quantity over quality.
But do the numbers add up? Does 'busy' mean better work and more opportunities? Nope. And it's been proven time and time again. We're just all too busy to pause and experience a better way of working.
I still haven't adapted my approach to work. It's so hardwired in my system, it's taking its sweet old time. I'd say I'm 75% there towards a new way of working, where I create more space in my life, without the guilt of not being busy enough. Phew! When will this end? I'm seriously bored of it.
It's a tough business unlearning the practice of being busy. I've been doing it for so long.
Speed up by slowing down
Why do I want to slow down and create more space? Because I learned early on, that to speed up, you have to slow down. Which feels counter intuitive I know, yet somehow, it works.
What happens is, when I slow down, pause and take time to reflect, I create better quality, and carefully considered work opportunities. Juicy projects that would have easily passed by when I was too busy to notice them, suddenly rise up to be actioned and followed-through.
I actually did a test a while ago, I wanted to see if this theory was true. I made a conscious decision to prioritise my self-care for 3 weeks and not think about workflow or clients. Instead, I focused on meditation, yoga, exercise and eating well. What happened? Suddenly, I received fewer emails that were higher quality, and offering incredible work opportunities, collaborations and higher value work. The clients streamed in, without any effort from me. My finances increased and everything in my life was in flow, without having to DO anything. This was a revelation. It felt like the best-kept secret in the world.
In conclusion, when I create space in my life, I open up doors for brand new opportunities to come in. Whereas, when I'm busy and jammed full of stuff, there is no space. Think about it? Makes total sense. Life isn't supposed to be complicated, we just make it so.
Some tools that help me be less busy
Here are things I use daily to create more space in my life:
Morning meditation. Start for 20 mins each morning. It's a practice but one worth doing. Check out the Headspace app.
No emails until 11am. Don't get dragged into servicing someone else's needs until you've worked out your own.
Take a deep breath. Pause now and take a nice, long, deep breath into your lungs. Repeat a few times until you feel calmer. Remember to breathe.
Pause before responding. If you're someone who reacts immediately to things, stop and ask yourself: "what would happen if I left this for 24 hours?" If the answer is "nothing", then leave it 24 hours. Give yourself space to do something that adds value to your day. You make your own rules (even if you work for someone else). Respond in your own time.
And most of all remember to relax and switch off once in a while.