When is being busy, too busy?

We’ve all said it time and time again, “I’m just super busy right now” or “I’m too busy to make time for that.” I know these lines about being busy probably slip out of my mouth once in a while, unfortunately.

I’ve learned many lessons, both positive and negative, about being “super busy.” As with anything in life, being busy has its pros and cons, as you balance it all. I think it’s safe to say after 2020, we all learned a lesson in how to adjust to not being as busy as we were before. But I’m here to remind you again, as we start to get more buys, the importance of slowing down once again. 

You Need Connections: We all have those select friends that are “too busy” to ever do anything with you. I’m sure each one of us has been that person at one time or another, right? A friend calls you and you ignore their call, thinking “I’m too busy, I’ll call them back later.” Then weeks go buy, or months and you still haven’t connected with that person. Sometimes we need to take a step back from our busy, self-absorbed lives, to make those connections and enhance our friendships. Your friends are your friends for a reason. They bring out different parts of your personality that is special and that needs attention. However, if you constantly say you are too busy, or don’t make time for them, pretty soon people will stop asking you to get together or perhaps that friend might stop calling or texting you to catch up on life. Sure, getting your daily tasks done may be important, but so is balance and friendships. Don’t be “too busy” to call up an old friend to talk for ten minutes, or text a friend to tell them you’re thinking of them. Point being: we all need these connections in our lives; don’t take for granted those people around you, because one day they might not be there for you to call.

Additionally, when you do spend time with those friends or family, make sure you’re in the moment and focused on building those connections. It’s easy to get distracted by your phone, email, work or kids when you’re out with friends. If you’re going to take the time to be with your friends, family, spouse or children, make sure you’re actually present and emotionally available. Call up that old friend to ask about their new job. Grab your wife’s hand and tell her you love her. Hug your kids goodnight. Take time not only for yourself, but to connect with others. This will help you to recharge yourself, and make lasting memories!

Your Body Needs It: In case you haven’t heard, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Yes, this has been the month to observe, improve and bring awareness to mental health, loneliness, anxiety and depression, since 1949. Often times, we’re so focused on getting everything done, pleasing everyone and being the best person possible that we don’t realize it can be wearing us down, physically and mentally.

Just as a car sends out warning signals when we’re low on fuel, our bodies often tell us when our stress levels are too high as well. The problem, is most of us ignore these signs of fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, etc. I know 7/10 times, I probably ignore them myself. We can’t forget that our body needs sleep and needs a break. If you’re tired of being too busy, step back from a task and come back to it later. If you listen to your body, you’re more likely to stay driven throughout the process and finish your tasks faster.

It’s Okay to Say No: My mom never would let us kids say the words “I’m bored”. She would note that there are far too many wonderful things in life to experience, learn and do, so we should never be bored. To this day, I hold her infinite wisdom very close to me. However, what she didn’t say when teaching us to not say we’re bored, is that we don’t have to say yes to everything. It’s okay to say no to some tasks; say no to the PTO board; or say no to the chair of the photography club. It’s admirable to admit you have a lot on your plate and cannot simply handle another thing or that you cannot give the dedication a group or project should have. It’s okay to realize you need to not be so busy, and to say no. A great read I suggest when learning to slow down and to get a better grip on life is “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to take control of your life,” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

 Being Busy Doesn’t Always Mean Being Productive: When you have a list a mile long, being busy, means you learn to be productive, right? Not always. When someone asks you, “How have you been?” do you reply with “Oh, I’ve been busy!” We get stuck in the daily grind and most of us probably answer this way. However, do we ever really elaborate on what we’ve been busy with. If we’re being busy, are we actually getting things done, or simply going through the motions? Many of us find ourselves busy, but not productive as we’re not prioritizing. It’s important when you’re feeling overwhelmed to prioritize what task needs to be done first, and stop wasting time with unnecessary tasks along the way. Finish what you’re working on first, and then start your next project. You cannot do everything at once. Let me repeat, (for my own good), you cannot do everything at once. You’re not superman or wonder woman – and that’s okay! Use your time wisely to be productive, to fulfill your purpose, and don’t let all your tasks control you. You’ll feel more accomplished from doing so. Win, win.

When You’re Too Busy, You May Be Complacent: We’ve all heard the saying “Great things take time.” The truth is, great things take time and effort, both. You can’t control that there are only 24 hours in a day. However, you can control your effort you put into each day. Sometimes we all think the busier we are, and the faster we go, the closer we are getting to our goals. Unfortunately, from continued and ongoing hard learned lessons, I’ve realized this isn’t the case. Your effort x consistency = capitalizing on your shining moments. If you’re being too busy, you’re not always focusing and thinking clearly. You don’t have time or the patience to deeply think and analyze, which can decrease the value of your work output.

I’ll be honest, I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “I’m busy” or “There’s not enough hours in the day to get everything done.” But, as I said earlier, I’ve recently had a wake-up call regarding overusing these phrases—and just how annoying it can be to hear them! While I can’t promise I’ll never use these phrases again, I can work hard at finding other ways to explain how my life or day is going like “I’ve been blessed with many opportunities” or “I’m learning a lot of new skills.” And while I don’t foresee not having things on my to do list, I do know I’m going to work extremely hard at continually enjoying life, balancing my life, being present in each moment while with friends and family.

I’ll leave you with this. Before you say you don’t have time NOT to be busy, here’s a better question: Can you afford to stay the same and still grow? Make time for your health. Make time to call your friends and be present with your family. Make time to sleep. At the end of the day, you can’t beat yourself up about the things you didn’t get done, the things you did wrong, or even the things you forgot. You can only move forward and make today a better day than the last. Just remember, life’s too short not to enjoy it.

Katie Nehl

Katie Nehl

A born and raised ranch girl from small town North Dakota, Katie started her credit union journey six years ago, with First Community Credit Union (FCCU). After working three years ... Web: myFCCU.com Details