By Leo Babauta
One of the most common problems among people I work with and coach is the feeling of always being busy.
And then it becomes a rationalization: I can’t honor my commitments because I’m too busy! I can’t be with my family or friends because I’m too busy. I can’t work out, meditate, shut down at night to get to sleep, or make time for solitude and disconnection … because I’m too busy.
Most of us have used this “too busy” rationalization, because it feels very true. It feels absolutely true that we’re too busy. And there’s a corollary to this: if we want to be less busy, we have to get all our work done first (and be more busy in the meantime).
Is it true? Or can we develop a habit of not being busy, even with the same workload?
Let’s get at the heart of this always-busy habit, and then reverse it.
The Always-Busy Habit
It’s a little complicated, because there are a number of components to the always-busy habit:
A More Focused, Meaningful Way to Work
Let’s imagine a fantasy scenario where you’re getting things done, but with a measure of focus and calm, not rushing but being fully present. With a sense of purpose and meaning. Getting the important things done even if they’re scary.
That’s what we’re looking for, with the idea that we’re not always going to hit this ideal. So how do we get there?
It’s a number of antidotes to our usual tendencies, but the idea is to not let ourselves engage in our usual tendencies. We have to intentionally shift them.
So here are the antidotes:
Putting It Together with Practice
The key word for me is “remembering.” We can practice this different mode of work, of being … but if we don’t remember, we can’t practice.
So how do we remember?
It gets easier with practice, of course. But in the beginning, we have to give ourselves a nudge, as often as we can.
It helps to have digital reminders, but in my experience, physical reminders work the best. For example, you might have several physical reminders such as:
Practice it over and over, until it becomes you default. Until it changes the way you live.