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“How you doing?” I asked. “So busy,” she immediately responded.

I asked another employee: “How’s it going?” “Crazy busy!” she said.

I asked a third person the same question: “Good, but very busy.”

These three responses made me realize that I too have used my busyness as a sign that I was important, needed, and really good at doing it all. I believe that for many of us busyness is a part of our definition of success.

Busyness has become more pervasive than clutter in complicating our lives. We have plenty of decluttering strategies, but what should we do about our busy lives? I’d like to suggest a boycott against busyness. Here are four things to help:

  1. Stop talking about busyness. Let’s stop telling each other how busy we are. That conversation isn’t helping us connect or become less busy. Talking about busyness makes me feel busy, even when I’m not. Instead of “How are you?” I am going to ask people, “What was the best part of your day?” or “Who or what made you smile today?” or “What will you remember about this week?” For the next seven days, ban the word busy from your vocabulary. This may be more challenging than you think.
  2. Do less. Stop doing it all. Say no. Protect your time for what matters most to you. Work with people who want your best, not your busiest. Stop comparing lists, your life, and your love. Know your strengths. What do you do best? What can you delegate or release completely?
  3. Linger a little. A busy life says, “Hurry up! You’re falling behind.” A slow one says, “You can stop now. It’s okay to be still and listen to your soul and stop to say a prayer in the warmth of the sunshine.” There is no guilt in self-care, and no shame in lingering or waking up slowly. Instead of thinking about the opposite of busyness as laziness, consider the opposite of a busy life is a full, intentional life.
  4. Stop saying you’re overwhelmed. It is not a virtue. You don’t get bonus points for being stressed out, exhausted, and depleted. Develop your own hands-on-heart practice. Place one hand on your heart, and cover your hand with the other. Feel your heart beating. Feel the warmth of your heart and your hands. Now, while continuing to breathe in and out with some intention, and while feeling the warmth, start a conversation with your heart.

Bob Mueller is senior vice president of development at Hosparus Health


P.S. How small actions can make a difference. 

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