Updated: Nov 30, 2022
This blog is for you if you end up doing too much. You feel overwhelmed like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done. If you have no moments to spare and feel stretched to the limit. You run from activity to activity while trying to wolf down something to eat. If you answer, “How are you?” with “Busy busy busy…”
I’m going to suggest something radical here.
You should do less.
Unfortunately in our society, chronic busyness is held up as this standard that we should aspire to. Can you check in with yourself with the question, “Why do I choose to be so busy?” Does it make me feel more important? Do I have FOMO? Do I feel that my kids will be a failure in life if they don’t do X, Y, Z?
Let’s start making the choice to be less busy. Because it is a choice.
Paradoxically, when you do less, your life becomes more full of all the things you want. I bet you would love to have more time to yourself, with your loved ones and more time to just enjoy life. The first step is to figure out…how can I do less?
1. Ask for help.
Do you have a hard time asking for help when you’re overwhelmed? I’m guessing if you’re reading this, the answer is likely yes. You might be trying to be a superwoman/superman, who can work, make dinner, mow the lawn, bake cupcakes and fix the washing machine. I’ve got news for you…you can’t do it alone and maintain your sanity. By asking for help, whether it’s from a friend for advice, your partner for some help with the household tasks or your neighbour to watch your kids for a few hours, it’s going to take some pressure off of you and help you to do less.
If you have kids, consider whether they doing their share? Are they learning about responsibility and chores? It’s easy to get into the habit of doing stuff for our kids and realizing, wow, they are more than capable of doing this themselves. Earlier this year I realized that my son had no idea how to use a toaster at age 8. Oops!
2. Just say no.
Often we’re overwhelmed because we say yes to all. the. things. Right now I’m going to tell you something important. Saying no does not make you a bad person. It’s time to let go of the guilt and focus on what’s really important to you. Right now, I’m giving you permission to say no to that thing you’ve been asked to do that you really don’t want to.
In the words of Courtney Carver, “I don’t say no because I’m so busy. I say no because I don’t want to be so busy.”
Although no can be a complete sentence, it can be good to have some ways to soften the blow of a no to make it easier for all involved. Here are some examples, inspired by Sharon Martin, LCSW:
“I’m just not able to commit to that right now.”
“I wish I could, but I just can’t.”
“I’d love to, but I’m already overcommitted.”
“I don’t think I’m the right person for that.”
“Sounds fun, but I’m not available.”
3. Schedule in white space.
Do you look at your calendar and see activities all day every day? Are all your weekends spent going at breakneck speed until you collapse into bed? If so, you need to learn to schedule in white space on your calendar.
These are times when you have nothing at all planned. Where you can act based on whatever you’re inspired to do…read a book, go for a walk, play with your kids, call a friend. Where you have time to take a breath. This is incredibly important for your mental health.
Spare time doesn’t magically appear in your calendar.
You have to schedule it in and deem it as important as everything else.
Remember, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” ~ Anne Lamott
4. Is there anything that you can pay someone to do?
Now I know that everyone’s financial situation is different and sometimes, you just can’t afford any additional payments. But if there’s any way you can swing it, paying someone to help you out with child care, cleaning or meals is a great use of money when it comes to doing less. If it’s hard for you to make this choice, think about all the things you might waste money on. Clothes. Toys. Apps. Alcohol. The latest this or that.
When I decide to buy something, I ask myself, “Does this purchase make my life better?” So for example, I will splurge on fitness-related items because I place a high level of importance on health, but I don’t waste money on trendy clothes that I don’t need. This question can help you to clarify how to spend your money in a more intentional way. And in my opinion, using money to help you do less is a great way to make your life better.
In our house, we pay a cleaner to come in every two weeks and it’s the best money we spend all month. We’ve recently started using a meal prep delivery service and it’s honestly been life-changing for me. I didn’t realize how much stress I held on to when it came to planning meals and grocery shopping. So often I would not end up cooking what I bought for meals and it was a big waste of money. The meal prep system is healthy, incredibly fresh and yummy and gives us just the right amount for the meal (which is enough for me to take the next day for lunch too…win-win). Plus, we’re not spending any more money on food overall. If you’re curious, we use HelloFresh and I can’t recommend it enough.
So there you have it. Now I’d love to hear from you. What is one way that you can do less in your own life? Comment below and remember, I read everyone!