I want you to answer honestly – Do you sometimes wear your busyness or your overscheduled-ness as a badge of honor? When people ask how you’re doing, do you say “Busy, busy, busy…never enough time to get it all done.” If you said yes, sheepishly, you are not alone. In this episode, I’m going to be talking about how you can do less and live more. Instead of adding one more thing to your to-do list, we’re going to be editing some stuff out!
So what is this phenomenon of being hyper-busy and over-scheduled?
In my own life, when I was younger, I thought that busyness was a sign of success. As I got older and healthier, I realized that anyone can stay crazy busy BUT at what cost? It is, for sure, not FREE. There is a psychological and physical price paid with a marginal payoff. It is possible to be normal busy and really productive, which is way better for your quality of life.
Let’s get into how to shift it. I have created some simple steps that will challenge you to do something different to create a better result.
The first thing is to become aware of ‘chronic screen time’ and other compulsive distractions. If you are waiting in line, are you on your phone? If you are driving somewhere, do you ever just drive and enjoy the silence or do you feel compelled to fill it? Limit chronic screen-time by removing your phone from your bedroom, dinner table, and any other social interaction. Give yourself the gift of your own presence.
The second challenge is to create stillness and silence throughout your day. If you’re in line at Starbucks or somewhere else, instead of being on your phone or cranking music, choose to be present. Look around, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths – consciously focusing on how your body feels and your surroundings.
The third challenge is about discernment. Be discerning with what you commit to doing. Before you say YES, ask yourself if it is something you really want to do. Is it worth your time? Question why you feel compelled to say yes. Your time is valuable and you could be doing something else…even if that means resting, napping or doing nothing – and that might be better for your mental health and for your quality of life than the thing that that person wanted you to do, whatever it may be.
This leads us to the next step, which is basically a quote from one of my friends, Marie Forleo, and she says: “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no.” From where I sit, I believe that you really have to think about saying no to things that are not aligned with what it is that you want in your life. If you’re always feeling frazzled, overwhelmed or like you just have to “get through”, it’s time to start saying, “Hell, No”, to some things because getting through is not thriving.
The fifth step to do less and live more is to actually institutionalize a morning practice of stillness and silence. You can use this time – even if it’s just five minutes – to set your intention and break the habit of being on autopilot of busy all day long. Starting your morning with deep breathing, while dropping your attention inward, is the best way to calibrate your mind and your mood for the day. Creating what you want rather than just letting life happen to you.
Protect yourself and your time because really, time is your most precious commodity. Talk to anyone who’s ever had a life-threatening illness and they’ll tell you one of the most common regrets is about “wasting time” or spending so much time doing things they didn’t want to do. Also, how can you possibly know who you are if you never sit in stillness and silence long enough to hear what your thoughts actually are?
Of course, it can be uncomfortable to “do less” if you’re used to being busy all the time. You might feel guilty. You might feel like you’re slacking. You might feel lazy. All of these things that we’ve been trained to believe – and the habitual busy person is incredibly used to being engaged. Online gaming and social media both have the same effect…the satisfaction area of the brain is getting a hit. You’re getting a hit of dopamine and feel good hormones every time someone likes something or comments in a nice way about something that you’ve posted. I’m not saying stop all of that – but do less and engage in these behaviors mindfully.
The last step is to flex your ‘Be Here Now’ muscle. As I stated above, your own presence in your life is a gift to yourself, but it requires a certain amount of discipline. Being aware of when you’re NOT here. One of my pals, Josh Pais, created a brilliant exercise called, “committed impulse”. Every time you notice your mind has wandered from this present moment you have to say out loud, “I’m back”. It blew my mind how much of the time I was thinking about the past or the future and this exercise really helped me lock down my present moment awareness!
I’ve included a link to Josh’s work so you can learn more about “committed impulse” if you are interested. You can also watch my Video on this as well as download a cheat sheet to help you HERE.
Doing less to live more matters because your time is precious. Every minute, every hour, every day of your beautiful life is valuable – so treat that time like it’s worth something because it is and so are you.
I hope these steps help you with stopping the cycle of being over-scheduled or too busy so that you can actually live a more fulfilling, vibrant, more present, more meaningful life.
If you liked this episode today, please share it on your social media platforms. I hope that you guys have an amazing week slowing it down and being present and as always, take care of you.
Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Newsletter, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.