Something quite terrible has been afflicting many of my loved ones lately. My entire community seems to be down with it, and for a while there, I’d caught it too. In fact, I’m still fighting to overcome it, and the ironic thing is, the more one blindly resists, the more it seems to invade both brain and body. So, what’s this illness I’m talking about? TOO BUSY DISORDER.
You’ll know Too Busy Disorder by some very clear signs. First, your daily calendar is always full, and yet you feel like you haven’t accomplished a thing. Each week is punctuated by meaningless meetings, “networking” events, and tasks that you’ve somehow been roped into without your conscious consent. At any given moment, you’re usually doing several things at once: checking Facebook, changing the baby, downing wine, sending an email, applying mascara, appeasing your boss- all in one breath. Half the people in your life are wondering how you manage to do it all while the other half seem to be hinting that you should be doing more and the ironic part is, it feels like every single one of them has it out for you in some weird, ultra-competitive, “my busy is more important than your busy” way. You see, Too Busy Disorder is a killer. It destroys your relationships, decimates your dreams, zaps your energy, and eventually, Zombifies your mind.
Other symptoms of Too Busy Disorder include:
· Being unable to finish a complete sentence without sighing.
· Using the words “stressed,” “overwhelmed,” “crazy” and “busy” constantly.
· Becoming BFFs with the word “YES.”
· Interrupting each thought with a social media check.
· Facet joint pain in the back of your neck… from staring into your iPhone all day.
· A sex life from hell (umm… because you’re too busy to have sex).
· Texting on the toilet, and cuddling up to your devices in bed.
· Trading in real relationships for Facebook “friends” and Instagram likes.
· Dreaming about finding that new job… constantly.
· Experiencing full-blown resentment from always trying to please others.
· Throbbing aches in your dominant hand, particularly the thumb, from typing so much.
· Chucking out the notion of pondering questions about the meaning of life because… who the hell has time for that?
· Prioritizing a pointless appointment with someone you hardly know over having dinner with someone you love.
· Feeling like nothing in your life is working out; you’re treading water on all fronts.
· Forgetting what your kids- or your dogs- look like.
· Inability to focus on one task for more than a minute or two.
· Exceptional exhaustion, and increased reliance on stimulants like coffee to get you through.
· Lack of real interest in anything… and obsessive interest in everything… at the same time (yes, it’s possible. If you have a severe case of Too Busy Disorder, you know exactly what I’m talking about).
A few months ago, during a minor meltdown after a demanding week, I decided to take a seat and do one of the things that I love doing- coach. However, I hadn’t seen that particular client in a while. You see, that particular client was me and I had been very busy hiding from certain aspects of myself in order to continue to deny that that the way I’d structured my life just wasn’t working anymore. And, what I discovered during that coaching session with myself has been absolutely invaluable moving forward. All of this “busyness”, all those feelings of obligation and that mysterious pressure to achieve, are completely and totally self-imposed in order so that we may steer ourselves away from the really scary stuff in life- our biggest dreams, our juiciest and messiest relationships, our deepest intimacies, our loudest insecurities.
DID YOU JUST READ THAT?
Here it is again, in a nutshell: If you have TOO BUSY DISORDER, you can pretty much bet that it’s because you’ve chosen to avoid what’s truly important for what just feels “manageably” important. Except, it’s not manageable, and it’s not really important.
If you don’t believe me, look around. How many relationships do you see disintegrating? How many people do you know who are following their true bliss in life and doing what they are meant to do? How many folks are hating doing what they once loved because they’re just too overwhelmed to see the joy and meaning in it? How many times have you logged onto social media, only to realize that it’s like tuning into a schoolyard of 5 year old children vying for attention (because they’re not cultivating fulfilling relationships offline)? How many new aches and pains and dis-eases are suddenly popping up due to the way we all exist now? And, how many times have you felt like life was personally passing you by, despite your lack of time?
After I’d done a little coaching on yours truly, I turned to my husband and said, “honey, I’m creating a bucket. And, if something’s not in the bucket, then fuck it.” And, that’s just what I did. I made a bucket, and I put all of the things in it that were truly valuable to me, making sure that it wasn’t too heavy or overflowing with ambition. It had to be a bucket that I could easily carry- more like a sandpail for the beach. Here’s what’s in my bucket:
· Quality, device-free time with my husband.
· Meaningful coaching with a very small number of clients ( I quantified this)
· Playing with my dogs.
· Writing each day.
· Going on adventures.
· Meditation and prayer.
· Time for reading each evening.
· Creative or enriching activities that will help me serve others or learn something new.
· Exercise most days of the week.
· Tea dates with friends.
And… that’s about it.
No more racing around to networking events or uploading crap to Instagram or logging onto Facebook or taking an appointment when I don’t have time. No more reacting to WhatsApp or phone calls or random requests. Those things just don’t fit in my bucket. There isn’t much room for the “YES” word in my pail either, and if it doesn’t make my heart sing, then, well truly, fuck it.
We human beings are just not meant to be spreading our attention so thin, giving to all and no one at once, bargaining for love through a shiny machine. Introverts and sensitive souls especially tap into their power not by throwing themselves in the chaos of the world, but by slowing down and tuning out in order to really tune in.
Since creating my bucket, I’ve discovered a lot more space in my life to do what I was meant to do, and what we’re all meant to do in one way or another- stare fear into the eyeballs and get on with the business of living an impassioned, meaning-soaked, thoughtful and colorful life. I haven’t browsed my social media accounts in nearly two weeks now, and that feels awesome. I’ve written the first draft of a non-fiction book and started a draft of a novel and that feels- after so many years of denying this piece of me- intergalactically amazing, particularly because I'm simply writing what I wish to. I get to do deeper work through my coaching with a small group of big-hearted, incredible women and I am forever blessed because of it. And, my relationship with the love of my life is beginning to flourish again- we’re diving into projects and adventures together, instead of mumbling, exhausted, over our cell phones. Beyond all of these “DO” things, it’s just so beautiful to have space again, space to lounge around in my pajamas and let my mind dance while I sit with the feeling of this majestic unfolding.
So, here’s to doing LESS, and may we all know the difference between what’s in our bucket and what should be filed under “fuck it.”