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You don’t have to be busy to be busy

Are you sick to death of being busy? Or hustling your face off? Or juggling 108 different things for 73 different people?

Here’s my favourite new hack to EASE OFF the busy-ness and to create more intentional, fulfilling time for you.

And without the guilt.

I’ll start with 2 examples from my own life:

Scenario 1 – Feb 2012

29-year-old Jamie used to work 16-hour days, every day, no weekends or holidays.

And each day was MAXED. OUT.

Let’s say I had arranged to go for dinner with my parents, lunch with a friend, or a doctor’s appointment.

Then someone called a meeting (usually not urgent, usually something I didn’t really need to attend).

Instead of considering that dinner, lunch or doctor’s appointment ‘proper commitments’ and part of my already-filled schedule, I would cancel any/all those things and go to that meeting.

It never occurred to me say, “I’m sorry, I’m not available”.

I MADE myself available – at the expense of much-needed personal time and space, family, friends, mental and physical health

(this eventually lead to physical and emotional collapse in August 2012, where I was laid up in bed for a full month, crying all day long and zoned out on Xanax and antidepressants – while still feeling guilty that I wasn’t working).

In my mind, those things didn’t truly classify as ‘being busy’ because they weren’t directly work-related, productive, doing activity.

In my mind, I was ‘allowed’ to say I was busy only if I was literally in a meeting with other people, working to a deadline, or doing something from which I could report back a tangible, measurable work-related ‘result’.

Scenario 2 – Feb 2022

A close friend and I made plans ages ago for a catch-up this week. I’d even blocked half a day (up to 3pm) to spend with her.

Now, it’s turned out to also be a super full week – lots of training, meetings, work waiting to be done.

Old Jamie would have definitely sent a long apologetic text about how busy I was and “I’m so sorry but I’m not going to be able to make it for brunch after all. Let’s Zoom some time, instead?”


This time, however, I stuck with it.

The brunch date is a meeting too.

The friend date is important too.

The relaxing, not-doing, social time is and deserves to be part of my schedule too.

And sure, there’s going to be times where you do have to reschedule things and certain commitments take priority for awhile.

But let’s not make that a norm, eh?

Let’s make the rest and rewards the norm, even a priority.

Put that good stuff into your calendar and lock it in.

Make those things as valuable and non-negotiable as work-colleague meetings and writing a report – because they are.

Good stuff like:

  • a 90-minute restorative yoga nidra
  • cooking dinner from scratch
  • coffee dates with friends
  • 2-hour therapy / coaching / counselling / acupuncture sessions
  • a long sweaty squash game
  • potato printing with your 4-year-old
  • an entire weekend with your partner
  • your monthly knitting circle
  • etc etc etc

Listen – unless you’re in boarding school or a gulag, nobody should be intimately inspecting exactly what you are doing every minute of every day.

You are a grown-ass adult with the right to shape your time – at least for part of your day/week – and NOT fill in time-sheets 24/7.

So if you decide that you want your mornings for yourself, or your evenings for your family

if you decide you want to have a full hour to eat your lunch instead of just scoffing a protein bar

if you decide to take a morning off to eat doughnuts with a friend –

that is part of the ‘busyness’ of your life too, and you’re allowed to consider that time ‘filled’.

(For those of you who feel like you’re ‘lying’ for saying you’re busy when you’re getting your thyroid checked / tending to your child / going for a run – spend some time reflecting on why those things don’t hold equal importance/value for you as say, a board meeting. Why can’t these things be something worth being ‘busy’ for?)

So tell me, friends, how’s your week/end looking? What will you be ‘busy’ doing? And how can you enjoy it 110%?

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