• encouragement,  growth,  life

    Busyness is not a badge of honor | Take back your life

    How many times have you answered, “We’re doing good! Staying busy!” when someone asks you how you are? Maybe you haven’t ever done that, but I sure have (way more often than I’d like to admit… or basically anytime I’m asked that question.). When did it become the norm to be so busy?

    While I was talking with my mom (Hi, mom!), she made the remark that she hopes I enjoy life and won’t be so busy all the time which really made me start thinking about my life and busyness in general.

    I don’t really remember being busy growing up, nor do I remember my mom being that busy. She was a stay-at-home mom and I just remember being able to go and do things, but not feeling a sense of busyness. Yes, there was homework everyday and after school activities, but I enjoyed all of that and it didn’t feel like my life was busy at that point. I also didn’t have any responsibility to anyone but myself which was probably most of it.

    Today, though, I just feel busy. I feel like I go from one thing to the next and some days, barely have time to breathe.

    Our society places so much emphasis on what we do and how we fill our time. We’re encouraged to volunteer in our kids’ schools, we’re supposed to get at least thirty minutes of exercise each day, and we need to cook a balanced dinner every night. Don’t forget that we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, spending time outside, taking time for ourselves, staying up on the news, and keeping our homes tidy. We also have that big thing called a job to contend with every day which brings along with it a commute, childcare arrangements, and clothes that must be ironed. Most of us have children we want to spend quality time with as well as a spouse. And finally, there are those things that we really can’t not do like eat, shower, and sleep.

    When did the equation that busyness equals success become true?

    In my own life, I look back at movies and shows I watched along with books and magazines I read and in my mind, I thought doing it all well all the time was something to strive for. I marveled at successful women in corner offices who wore heels all day, played with their babies all night, and went on lavish vacations with their spouse all while looking like they stepped off of a runway. Busyness became a thing to strive for because if I’m busy with almost every minute booked, I must definitely be doing so much good — and have an incredibly full life. Right? Wrong.

    Busyness does not equal success.

    Busyness does not equal value.

    Busyness does not give you worth.

    Sadly, busyness seems to be the way so many of us signal our worth to others.

    The myth that busyness means quality, worth, success, and value has to stop. So how do we stop it?

    For a moment, picture your perfect life. What does it look like? My bet is you aren’t chained to a calendar or a to do list. You’re probably on a beach somewhere without a care in the world (What? Is that just my perfect life?). While what you immediately pictured may not be possible for you at this very moment (Hello, I have to work to provide for my family unless someone out there wants to send me an endless supply of cash!), the way that makes you feel is entirely possible. It’s just up to you to make it happen.

    So how do we make it happen?

    Let go of the idea that being busy is a virtue. It’s not. Being busy whether you’re busy doing good things or busy doing idle things isn’t that great. Yes, I understand there are some times in our lives where we truly are so busy that we can’t see straight because of circumstances around us, but for the most part, we control how busy we are.

    Decide what’s most important to you. What things/people in your life are most important to you? What do you do just to say you do it or so you receive some type of recognition? What can you back out of? Before Kevin and I got married, I was really involved in my local Junior League. I enjoyed getting to see friends and volunteer in some neat places, but when Kevin and I met and eventually married, I decided to drop my membership. With meetings and volunteer hours, I knew I wouldn’t be able to devote the time I wanted to to my family and that commitment, so I did what was best for me.

    Take charge of your time. There are 168 hours in a week. 40+ of those hours are spent working and 56 are spent sleeping (if you sleep 8 hours/night). That means you have 72 hours to do all the things. What things? The things that are important to you. Get a paper calendar if you don’t already have one. It can be fancy or plain; just get one. Look at each day and see where you have those 72 hours and let them work for you. Don’t become a slave to your time.

    To start with, I encourage you to think about the things you know you waste time on. For me, that’s my phone. It’s so easy to say I’m just going to scroll through Instagram real quick and then 30 minutes later, I’m three months back on someone’s feed. There’s a great app I recently heard about (I can’t remember where) called Moment that tracks your screen time. It will blow your mind when you see how much time you spend on your screen.

    After that, think about other things that are time suckers for you and determine whether or not you can automate them or at least, make them easier. I’ve shared before how Walmart’s Grocery App and pick up service has given me back at least an hour every week. My kids know to write what they need on the list on the fridge and it’ll get ordered. Amazon Subscription delivers diapers to my door once a month. My big kids pack their lunches most days which means they are not only developing responsibility and independence and getting what they want (within reason) for lunch, I’m also not having to decide what to pack and spending 15 minutes each night packing it. If cleaning your house sucks time out of you, see if your budget will allow for a housekeeper every so often.

    Determine what things in your life aren’t negotiable. For me, I need some time with Jesus everyday (and just to lay it out there, when I’m superwoman busy, it doesn’t always happen), I want to spend quality time with my husband and kids, have time to run 4-5 days/week, and have some set aside time to read or do something else just for myself. Those things aren’t negotiable. Yes, there will be days when I have an event for work or the kids will be sick or I just won’t have the energy to run after my boys are all asleep, but as a general rule, these things are most important to me.

    Make margin and begin to live your best life. Hold yourself accountable for your time. It’s your job to make sure you have time to live your best life. Daydream, swing in the hammock, go for shaved ice, have an impromptu date, walk around your neighborhood, watch the sunset. Do those things that make you happy. Work hard while you’re working, but enjoy life when you’re not. Prioritize those tasks that have to be done and do them now so that you are able to relax without a million things hanging over your head. Put your phone down and actually have a conversation with your spouse and kids. Sit around the table and eat together as a family. Bake some chocolate chip cookies. Curl up on the couch with a book. Just talk. Live.

    While it’s overwhelming to think about slowing down sometimes, it really is the only way we’ll be able to live our best lives. You can’t be your best for yourself or your family if you’re not taking time out. Invest in yourself. Invest in your time. You won’t be sorry that you did.

  • faith,  growth,  me,  Self-Improvement

    Saying “No” to the Good Things

    Y’all, I can’t even tell you how much the book “The Best Yes” is helping me. I think I could spend a whole week talking about it. I just might do that, too.

    You see, I’ve always had a hard time saying no. I haven’t really had a hard time saying no to things we typically think of as bad and those things that are in front of us in our teenage years, but I’ve had a hard time saying no to good things because I think I’m superwoman and can do everything. But I can’t. Well, maybe I can, but if I tried, everything would fall apart because there’s just no way one tiny person can be everything to everyone all the time. Inevitably, something/someone gets left behind.

    From a young age, I’ve been really involved in many things. I get this from my mom who also can’t say no to good things as well as my grandparents who have always been “yes” people (though they’ve always done their “yes” things with way more grace than I could ever dream). I’ve always been the first to volunteer to do whatever needs doing, I’ve always been the one that does more than is required, and I’ve always been the last person to say no.

    But then, life happened. I was blessed with real responsibilities outside of my career in the form of my husband and two sons. No longer did I have the time every night to go to the gym, dinner and movies with friends, and time to volunteer that affected no one but me. I got a family and that has been the biggest blessing in my life (yes, I’ve had a family forever, but you know what I mean – I have my people that I look out for now).

    With those new and awesome responsibilities came the need to say no. It wasn’t a want, I can assure you, because I want to take on so much because I love being involved and helping others, but with two young kids, I had to start figuring out how to use that two-letter word.

    I think the first thing I said no to was being the director of VBS at my home church. That was a really hard no to say. When I was asked to take on that job (which I adored) for the sixth or seventh year in a row, I reluctantly said no. At that point, Kevin and I weren’t married, but we knew we would be soon and I had started going to church with him, so I felt like I wouldn’t be able to give it my all and I don’t like committing to something that I can’t do to the best of my ability.

    Shortly after that, I decided to resign from the Junior League. I had been in the League for three or four years and during that time, was over several committees including our largest fundraiser, Merry Marketplace. That took up a lot of time! While I loved going to the Boys and Girls Club to volunteer on Friday afternoons, my job became more demanding which meant I wasn’t able to go as often as I liked. Our meetings were always on Thursdays which is the night we don’t have the boys, so I felt like it was important to spend that time with my husband. My career allows me to be pretty involved in the community, so I didn’t feel too bad bowing out.

    I’ve also said no to some other good things recently. I’ve been asked to ring handbells at church (I would adore doing it), but with our stage in life and situation with the kids, it would pull me away at a time I don’t want to miss. I was also asked to be the GA director which would be a lot of fun and fits in with a strong passion of mine – shaping young girls – but again, it would require more time than I have available right now in this stage of my life.

    None of the things above are bad things, they’re all great things, but they’re all things I couldn’t say yes to.

    At this stage in my life, I’m having to learn how to say no to good things more than yes to those things. And it’s hard, but it’s necessary.

    The thing I’ve struggled with most recently is saying no to choir for a brief season. I love singing in the choir at our church. Choir practice is one of my favorite times of the week. It’s a time where I feel refreshed, energized, and hear God speak, but lately, I’ve had to miss. I guess had is too strong of a word, but I’ve felt like I need to miss.

    You see, my big boy needs me. Second grade has been a little challenging for us. He’s as smart as a whip, but we’ve recently learned he is primarily an auditory learner (which is why he can tell us practically everything about nearly anything he hears), but in big second grade, everything is read independently. Thankfully, we have been blessed with an amazing teacher who is right on top of things. And right now, he needs me. That choir practice slot is also homework time and until we’re confidently where we need to be, I’m saying yes to the child God has entrusted us with instead of yes to that time of refreshment for me. I don’t resent it one bit because I know what a blessing it is to be in the position that I’m in and we can see all of his hard work paying off.

    Choosing to say no to good things, particularly things we would enjoy, is hard, but sometimes, saying no to those things frees us up to say yes to the things God has called us to do. It’s easy to be a yes woman especially when so many good opportunities present themselves to us, but it’s important to differentiate between those things we say yes to because we know God is telling us to and the things we say yes to because we know we can do it and it sounds fun.