I think we're facing an epidemic -- everyone seems "sick" with busy, over-scheduled lives these days. Look around and tell me who hasn't been stricken. I’d say it’s a stage of life thing, but even the retired people I know seem burdened with too many to-dos.
How many times in a given week do you or those in your circles comment about how busy life is? We’re all so busy it seems that all we have time to talk about is how busy we are. In fact, calling our lives “busy” isn’t even accurate anymore. We’ve coined a new term for the level of insane over-scheduling and to-dos we take on; we call it “crazy busy.”
“Hi, Sarah. How are things going?”
“Good. Crazy busy, but everyone’s doing well. How about you?”
“Same. Slammed at work. Hectic at home. As a matter of fact, it’s so great to see you, but I need to run. I had to leave my yoga class early so I could pick up Katie from soccer and get her to the sitter. Joe and I both have meetings tonight. Let’s schedule a lunch soon when I’m not so crazy busy, okay?”
“Yeah, and this time we’ll actually go!”
I've had conversations similar to this. Have you? Sometimes I think I even see a call for help in a friend's smiling, but frantic eyes. "Everything's great! Please call me an ambulance right now because I think I'm going to drop right here in Target," they seem to be saying. That’s not just busy. That’s crazy busy. When we can’t stop and talk to a good friend for more than a few moments without looking at the clock. When we give our children a hasty kiss and move them from one caregiver to another, promising to play Candy Land tomorrow. When we don’t share with our spouses what’s going on at work because there is no time or energy to have a meaningful conversation about our days beyond our plans for managing the next day.
Am I exaggerating? Over dramatizing? Or does this sound familiar to you as well?
While it’s possible I could use some tips on how slow my life down a bit (maybe even an intervention), I don’t think I am alone. On one hand, it seems that I have a number of friends who appear to navigate through their own busy schedules with more grace and ease than I do. But I have an inking they are just as burdened, behind and bewildered by the busy-ness.
The moments when I marvel at my friends who are managing more children or more work responsibility or more charities, I remember the saying that some wise person once said (I was too busy to look up exactly who): “Don’t compare your inside to other people’s outside."
There’s a lot of truth to that, isn’t there? I bet you any money, the laundry pile at 9 out of my ten closest friends is just as high as mine right now. I bet, like I do, they have hundreds of pictures waiting to be printed. Birthdays that creep up on them before the gifts are bought or the cards mailed.
Even so, that’s little solace when my overscheduled weeks and overflowing to-do lists leave me feeling as though I’m missing out on my real life – the one I want to look back on fondly and proudly, not with regret.
How does your crazy busy life affect you? To me, it’s a feeling of being consumed. My time, my thought process, my creativity, my ability to execute all of the ideas swarming around in my head – all of these are tapped out. And yet there is so much more I want to do with my life, so much I want to give to others.
I don’t want to be busier; I want to be more productive.
|Me...before I knew what "busy" meant.|
I want to finish my novel (again) and query agents.
I want to cook more meals, healthier meals.
I want to spend more time soaking up my children’s voices, the feel of my son’s little hand in mine, the last years of my daughter’s girlhood.
I want to better nurture my marriage so that our eventual empty nest won’t feel so empty.
I’m tired of doing more. I want to be more – for people I love and even for people I’ve never met.
Now before you ask me if I would like some more cheese with my “whine,” let me say this: I do have hope that I can better master my schedule with the right changes. I can continue my efforts to live more in the moment. And, indeed, I have a lot of meaningful experiences with my family, in my career, and through my volunteering. Inspired Wining is case in point. I’ve been involved for six years now, and I can very truthfully say, every single moment has been enriching. I hope you have people and projects that fill your life with meaning, or at least help you balance out, in some way, the challenges of being crazy busy.
I’d love to hear from you. I plan to write a “Part 2” to this post in the near future and share tips for avoiding the pitfalls of being too busy. Or simply post a comment and tell me what you would do if only you had more time. Maybe just the act of expressing it here will give you the idea or fortitude you need to make it happen. (And the same goes for me!)