Do you ever find yourself mindlessly staring off into space, wishing that you had more time for things like hobbies or travel? Or feel so weighed down by commitments and tasks that you start losing your focus? If you’ve answered “yes” to either or both of these questions, it’s time that we have a discussion about becoming unbusy.
This time last year I found myself feeling very frustrated. I’d hit a bit of a rough patch in my personal life, and like any Type A personality, powered through by keeping busy. It became like a sickness, and I began to equate my level of success to the level of busy I was. When friends would ask me why I didn’t stop by the tailgate, or family would mention they missed me during the holidays, I’d tell them that I was extremely busy. I, like many other people, had taken the word “busy” and used it as a terrible excuse to not put myself first when I needed it most.
The truth is, we all need more time. Time to spend with our family and friends, time to travel and make memories and most importantly, time to reconnect with ourselves and our faith or core values. During my journey to become unbusy, I noted a few helpful tips that I learned in the hopes that they might inspire you, too.
Understand that “Busy” is a Choice
As a people-pleaser, saying “no” was very hard for me to do. I actually practiced in the mirror (no joke). But as time went on, I found out a few things about saying the word “no.” For starters, it wasn’t always an option for me. Each time you make a commitment to something, it requires your time and energy. So, for each “yes” that you give, something else is sacrificed. On the occasions when saying “no” wasn’t an option, I instead said “yes,” but quickly communicated what was being replaced and would not be getting done because I was starting something new instead. I learned the importance of prioritization.
The biggest lesson was that no one expected me to do it all. That was an expectation that I was placing upon myself.
Another thing I learned about the word “no” was that I began to gain respect for using it. Because I put my needs first and didn’t try to do it all, I actually improved several company processes along the way, making the lives of my co-workers easier. When I started saying “no” at home, I taught my daughter important lessons about becoming more independent. I also learned how to better set expectations with my friends about respecting my time.
I’ve found that when things are out of place, I tend to lose a bit of focus. In the case of that hectic time, I’d let myself get behind on organization. It’s important to plan and get organized. Never overlook the benefits that organization can have in your life. The first step I took to rectify my disorganization was to update my calendar. I used Google to do this since I wanted to share it, and assigned different colors for home and work related tasks. I even scheduled time to do nothing.
Yes, you read that correctly, I scheduled time to do nothing.
This ended up being the most important part of my day. When I sit and allow myself to process the events that have happened over the past few hours, I’m actually able to increase my productivity and focus more intently on the next day. My mind isn’t still worrying about what I need to get done, because I’ve got it all on my calendar.
Once I had my schedule under control, I started tackling my budget and the mound of paperwork that was lying in a heap around my desk. Speaking of paper, that leads me to the biggest secret of becoming unbusy of all: automation.
Going paperless was by far one of the best things I’ve done to become unbusy. Rather than spending my time sorting through stacks of bills or monthly statements, I now have my entire life automated.
Here at Access, we pride ourselves on reducing paper within an organization by using our eForms and electronic signatures solutions, which has inspired me to automate a lot more processes in my life.
By using forms to submit everything from my expense reports to my vacation requests (which I can even do on my smart phone using the mobile app), I’ve earned hours back in my day. I no longer have to play voicemail tag with my manager or spend time running to the post office to mail HR paperwork or expense receipts. I simply attach them to an electronic form, sign-off and they are securely routed where they need to go.
Automation has allowed me to spend more time making memories that count, instead of constantly chasing to catch up with everything. In fact, I’ve been able to start enjoying the little things in life again like reading or taking a restorative walk during the day.
In closing, I’d like for you to take some time today and choose one thing to do that you’ve been putting off because you’ve been too busy. Whether it’s reading the first chapter in a book you have been meaning to start, playing a board game or calling a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, please join me in my journey to become unbusy and start taking back control of your time.