An Update on the “Be Less Busy” Challenge

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I’m trying to be less busy these days. Get it?!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about letting go of the identity that many of us share as the “frenetic professional who can get brunch with her friends if she has time next month”. You can check that out here.  I wanted to provide an update on how that’s going because a) it will help to keep me accountable, and b) a few of you have asked for one.

Unfortunately, even with a nice goal like “take more time to rest,” I feel the need to do it perfectly, and guilty when I miss the mark. I’ve become really good at being “frenetic professional lady” and am rewarded by that in a society that equates exhaustion with work ethic. I have made some small changes, though, and small changes are the building block for big ones, right? (Side note: that reminds me that I’ve been wanting to read Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives).

Here are the itty bitty changes I’m making that are working and that I’d like to build on:

  • I’m scheduling down-time. I know, I know, this is kind of sad, but it’s working! I’ve blocked out two weekends in October with “NO PLANS!” in my day planner, and so far, those have not been chewed up by other commitments. I know I need to go on a Fall Retreat but don’t have time to research where to go yet, so I just put it on my calendar in November and will figure the rest out later. I’m creating space for rest, not just assuming it will happen.
  • I’m practicing “No.” I’ve declined getting involved in or attending some functions that just didn’t light me up inside. They were probably good networking opportunities, but I’m using Leo Babauta’s rule of thumb that says if you wouldn’t pay money to do something, it’s not worth your time.
  • I’m downsizing my container. Seth Godin had a great little post the other day about changing your serving size. I’ve begun thinking of my days as 6-hour chunks for work: 4 hours in the morning, and 2 hours in the afternoon for miscellany. This has helped me lower my expectations for what I can get done each day, which makes it easier to justify taking a 20-minute walk or savoring my lunch. Here’s the caveat, which I’ll write more about later: As I start focusing on doing things I love, it’s getting harder and harder to know what counts as “work” and what I need to put time limits on. 
  • I’m trusting the process. Finally (and this one’s important), I’m trusting that by increasing my focus and only allowing into my life that which truly excites me, the future I want will be there waiting. I’m trusting that by creating space to be well-rested, mindful and healthy, I will be better equipped to absorb life’s challenges and its blessings. Some days it’s really, really hard to have faith in that assumption, but then I see that the work I’m producing is actually better and more fruitful.

So that’s the latest! As we transition into Autumn over here in the Pacific Northwest, it feels more and more natural to slow down. I hope you can create some space today to feel more grounded and rooted in what you know to be true for you.

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