The high cost of busyness
READ TIME: 9 MINUTES
LAST WEEK, ON FRIDAY:
I posted a blog about freedom from a job I hated and the positive changes in working for myself creating a business. Anytime you influence people to make a positive change in their lives, you can absolutely, positively anticipate that the enemy will come raging to crush you to the ground.
THIS WEEK, ON MONDAY:
I tried to do everything — or at least make a plan to do everything — and I came crashing to the ground.
It was a Monday where I felt completely overwhelmed. Here's the predicament. I'm trying to do ALL OF THIS every week:
Craft one blog post with good SEO and photos (because not everyone loves words as much as I do turns out...)
Create social posts to accompany the blog post with a compelling caption that makes people click and read the actual post
Create Facebook & Instagram content which is encouraging and challenging and meaningful and worthy of someone's time to read it
Learn how to use Pinterest to promote my blog posts
Build an email list for my loyal readers
Create YouTube videos (I'm at a very elementary level with this, so last week's vid took no less than 15 hours for me to complete)
IG Live/Facebook Live
Design products for my online shop that truly help people grow in faith and follow God
Learn how to advertise said products because right now I'm on the struggle bus with the whole sales thing...
Grow my photography skills
Grow my video content & editing skills
Maintain my website, which I just transferred from one platform to another last month, and I haven't caught up with fixing broken links, missing pics, etc.
Oh, and, I'm writing a book on the side (nervous LOL!)
If ever there were a time for this sentiment...
JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL!!!
On Monday, I ended up working for 12 hours just to finish up my To-Do list, and then I couldn't sleep because I was so wired from working so late... When I woke up on Tuesday, my mind was fried. On Tuesday morning, I spent a couple hours just reading the Word, talking to God, and prayer journaling. (Y'all know that's my go-to!! :P)
I asked God, "How am I supposed to do ALL OF THIS well?"
And here's what He said to me:
Of course, I calmly reacted with: "But God?! Don't you hear me?! Do you want me to fail?! Do you care?! Is this some kind of sick, twisted joke?!"
He said (roughly paraphrased):
"You're NOT supposed to do everything well. You're supposed to choose your priorities. You're supposed to decide which area you want to grow in, but not all of them all at once. You're supposed to surrender the over-achiever part of you and walk in My grace daily. You're supposed to say 'no' to many things so you have the freedom to say your 'Best Yes'*. You're supposed to grow in the work I give you each day, not all the stuff you give yourself to do. You're supposed to trust Me to bring you the right opportunities, and the right work, and the right people at the right time."
*("The Best Yes" is a book by Lysa TerKeurst which changed my life. The Amazon link is at the bottom of this page for you!)
From God's words to my ears, and now my words to your ears: Friend, you can’t do EVERYTHING well. But you CAN do the things God has asked you to do well, because He gives grace for the work He's prepared for you.
Maybe you've been VERY BUSY doing everything, juggling priorities, just hoping one doesn't fall to the ground, because if it does, you know you'll be overwhelmed and all the other things will crash to the ground. If that's you, let's really confront the idea that you can do it all, have it all, and be it all.
What are all the things that you want to be? I'll list my own:
Faithful follower of God; Loving wife; Good, clean housemate; Healthy & strong; Great mom (to hopefully more than my furbaby someday); Great friend; Loving sister and daughter and granddaughter and great-granddaughter; Accomplished author; Bible teacher & preacher; Good steward of our finances; Good community participant; etc. etc. etc...
How about your list? Can you do everything on your list? If I was TRULY GREAT at all of my roles and activities, would I get 8 hours of sleep, thereby ensuring I can be a great mom and grandmother for a long, full life? Or would I even get any sleep...ever?
We all know the answer! But we don't all live accordingly. I regularly try to do too much, and I hate how much I love it. I get such a thrill of doing ALL THE THINGS and managing life so effortlessly...whilst in heels and a fresh manicure.
It's that magazine cover illusion, and IT'S AN EPIC LIE!!!
We can't do it all. We can't juggle things without eventually dropping them. I love the way Mercy Lokulutu stated it, which I will paraphrase:
"I don't want to juggle my responsibilities. That sounds tiring! I want to cradle them, each one as it needs it."
But maybe that's not you.
Maybe you don't put too much pressure on yourself. Maybe people don't tell you on the reg that you're "really intense". Maybe you're not the Priska-extreme Type-A overachiever.
If you don't relate to the over-achiever syndrome, but you still find yourself VERY BUSY all the time...
Maybe you're a people-pleaser
Maybe you're VERY BUSY because you've said yes to everyone who asks for your time, attention and energy.
Is there someone in your life who's always crazed, hectic and stressed, and they need the relief that can only be had if YOU take things off of THEIR To-Do list? Maybe these To-Do's don't matter to you. Maybe you realize these things don't matter at all...period. But you oblige them, because you love them, and it's loving to help people, right?
This ultra fast-paced world has conditioned us to constantly be doing something —anything— no matter what. The guilt of saying "no" to a friend who's pressuring you to join in on the crazy train of stress is oftentimes overwhelming. You feel selfish saying "no", even if the activity isn't beneficial.
This has been a big change in my life this past year. Going from the Yes Man trying to climb the corporate ladder to building my own ladder has been life-changing.
I work for myself (no time clock to punch). I work from home (no stressful commute). And I’ve started a business (no stupid busy work).
But not everyone understands that. Some people assume I’m free to do whatever activities they want to add to my plate. Nope! I have to remember:
I'M TOO FOCUSED to do things that will add confusion to my life. ✨
I'M TOO FOCUSED to get distracted on things that, quite frankly, don’t matter. ✨
I'M TOO FOCUSED on divine appointments to take a detour. ✨
The lesson here is that not everyone will understand your assignment from the Lord. Scratch that. Most people won’t. There are people who won't understand the unique language that God has revealed to you. Words like "no" and "I'm focused" and "That's not for me". Rather than letting someone railroad their busyness into your life, learn firm language to communicate your "no".
On the flip side, it's !!SO IMPORTANT!! to keep close friends who will understand and pray for you to stay focused, not pray that you'll do whatever they want. And to everyone else who thinks you “hang on Instagram all day” ...you don’t owe them an explanation or a “yes” to whatever is on their To-Do list.
If more of us would simply snuff the raging fire of crazy with a gentle but firm “no”, then perhaps collectively we would be less stressed and more purposeful in our daily lives. We wouldn't be barraged by requests for our time for things that aren't befitting of us. People would learn that we have healthy boundaries, and they need to be respectful of them. Trust me: if you say "no" to people enough, they will learn.
There may be a twinge in your heart wondering:
"What if people think they can't rely on me? Isn't that part of being a good friend?"
Here's the thing. There is a major difference between helping someone in crisis versus allowing someone to make everything into a crisis and then pull you into it.
To really flesh out this thought, let me ask you. If you needed some help from a friend, would you rather ask a friend who is always over-committed, will say yes to you, but will likely bail on you at the last second because he/she was double-booked? Or would you rather have the calm, level-headed friend, who will respond with a yes/no and really mean it? Personally, I'd prefer the latter. But the former friend is the one always saying "yes" to everyone and everything. That's not loving, not really anyway.
I think you probably know that, but I just wanted to state that clearly, just in case that stipulation was floating around in your head, too. You, my people-pleasing friend, were created to walk in freedom. Freedom to assign your own priorities, based on God's unique calling for your life. You weren't created to be anyone else's Yes Man. You were created to be God's warrior. There is freedom out there, and I'm giving you an easy People-Pleaser Hack:
Say, "No, I'm busy" to the people who don't understand that you're simply too focused on God's will to take a detour.
Over time, you will get more comfortable simply saying "no" when you need personal time to stay mentally balanced. You'll recognize that small twinge of your brain saying, "Can we stay in this weekend and read a book?" You'll notice the panicky people who aren't going to understand "I'm too focused" and you'll learn to easily say, "No".
This is a tried and true method in my life. My friends know I have healthy boundaries for my time and energy. If there is a problem, they can call me and I will answer. If something important arises last-minute and they need me, I'll drop what I'm doing to be there. I can only have that flexibility by giving more "no's" than I was previously comfortable with saying.
Try out this method or any other, but make sure you find what works best for you to steward your time well.
One of THE BIGGEST demands on our time occurs through our phones. I struggle with this, and I assume every person reading this is struggling for balance with phone usage. So let's talk about it!
If you answer every text message, social comment, etc. as it comes across your phone, you won't be focused on listening to the Lord's voice throughout your day. If you struggle with getting distracted by your phone, I suggest you implement some boundaries for yourself. Here are my (constantly-evolving) boundaries when it comes to my phone:
I typically have my phone near me from 8 AM - 9 PM. When I wake up, I check the weather and my calendar, but I don't scroll mindlessly or respond to anything.
The earliest I will respond to emails, messages, or DM's is during lunch time.
During the work day, my phone may be near me, but it's flipped upside down so the screen lighting up doesn't distract me. I use my phone a lot for work, so it's in my hand, but I'm focused on creating, not replying.
I don't regularly reply to social media comments immediately, which I know lowers my algorithm score, but sanity is more important than popularity, right??
During time with framily, I try to keep my phone in my purse so I won't be tempted to look at it and crush the connection to the living, breathing human in front of me! Doing the opposite is a pet peeve of mine. I was in the doctor's office yesterday, and this chick in the waiting room continued her entire conversation while the rest of us just had to listen to her drama...and then she walked into the exam room still yapping! The look that the nurse gave was...exactly what we were all thinking!
Phones can cause us to lose our humanity so quickly -- just put it away if you struggle with this. Creating some phone boundaries will help you to create healthy people boundaries, which will in turn help you to steward your time well.
Which one are you?
Are you the person who is VERY BUSY because you demand so much of yourself that you overwork, overachieve, over-everything? Or are you the person who is VERY BUSY because you've said "yes" to everyone who demands your time?
I'm both. I like to please people. But I also have too high standards for my life, because at the end of the day my pride revels in thinking, "Look at how accomplished I am."
This reminds me of the end of 1 Corinthians chapter 1, where Paul talks about "not boasting in the presence of God" and "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord". Because it's not about us, our To-Do Lists, and our prideful accomplishments. It's about letting God show-off in your life, doing what you cannot do, and giving you proper rest.
Side note: If you're VERY BUSY, you will become very tired very quickly. Learn to trust God and rest regularly.
This is as true for you as it is for me. If I learn to say "no" and place healthy boundaries around my time and energy, I can rest properly and regularly. I can take a Sabbath every week where I don't even think about work. I can be present with my husband when I'm not working. I can "Own The Moment"*, because I'm not distracted by my To-Do List. I can be a better worker and a better friend, because I'm focused on work when I'm working and I'm focused on my friends when we're together. I'm more mindful of what people around me need, that perhaps they aren't clearly expressing. My mind is clear for God to speak. My heart is open to Him revealing His plans. That sounds like a pretty good life, right?
*("Own The Moment" is a life-changing book by Carl Lentz. I'm linking it for you at the bottom of this post!)
I'd like you to take inventory of your time. This current week is a good subject to analyze. How do you feel? Well-rested or tired? At max capacity or available for opportunities? Now, where is the source of any places where you're VERY BUSY? Is it from other people? Is it from yourself?
Pray about this:
What changes can I make to create balance in my time?
Friend, let's ponder this question regularly. I'm praying that you're on your way to a less stressful life. You're on your way to freedom in Jesus' name!
For further reading on this topic:
The Best Yes teaches you to say "no" more often so you're available to say your best yes when the opportunity arises.
Own the Moment shows you how to live fully in today's special moments!
*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Cover photo by Isabella Costello.