Do you rarely have time for yourself (to exercise, relax, enjoy life) because you’re running around frantically trying to get everything done? If you feel guilty taking time out for yourself, or anxious when you stop doing - even if only for a few minutes - then you might be a slave to your busy schedule.
If that sounds like you, check out this week’s video to find out what the costs to your health are of this behavior and how you can stop it.
And because I like to practice what I preach, I recorded this video from the ski resort where I took a quick little two-hour mini-vacation on a weekday morning to play a little bit in the snow, so that my entire life isn't work. Because as the old expression goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right?
Is being a slave to your busy schedule stressing you out?
How do you know if you are a slave to your busy schedule? Because you can be busy without being a slave to your busy schedule, right? You can have a lot of things to do, and if they're things that are really in alignment with your values then you're not going to be a slave to your schedule.
The way to tell that you're a slave to your schedule is when you are missing out on some of the key basic components that we as human beings need: Things like you chronically don't get enough sleep. You are always trying to cram things in - just one more thing! And you just feel like you're rushing constantly and you're not actually present to do any of the things that you're doing.
It might be that you show up to work and you compare notes with your coworkers on who's more tired, stressed out and busy. Or who got less sleep, or who has more things to do, right?
As Brene Brown talks about in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, we have this idea of using exhaustion as a status symbol. It's like the old Dilbert cartoon of the Topper (everything you can do, I can do better, or more, or whatever). "Oh, well you're tired? I only got three hours of sleep last night and tonight I’m going to have to stay late to finish XYZ project" and so on and so forth.
If that's how you're comparing success in your world, then you might be a slave to your busy schedule.
The Cost of Stress & Being Busy: Serious Health Issues
And what's the cost of all this busyness? Let’s put it this way: sleep deprivation is a form of torture in many countries for a reason: because it's really effective at killing our immune system, at messing with our memory, distorting our emotions, and at killing our sanity for that matter.
Using exhaustion is a status symbol and this constant running around and being a slave to our schedule can cause us to get sick more frequently. It's correlated with higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and all kinds of other sicknesses.
Why Do We Continue Making Ourselves So Busy?
It's not good for our systems at all, so why do we do this, you might ask? Well, I think one of the reasons is because in our society as a whole, we often equate productivity with self-worth. And so we have this unwritten mental rule that we are what we produce. But the problem with that is that we are not machines. We are human beings. But if I didn't pump out 20,000 widgets today, that doesn't make me any less of a human being, right?
So, if a big part of what fills your schedule are things that you think that you should be doing, based on some kind of outside societal rule or arbitrary productivity goal, then you're going to be chasing that all of the time and become a slave to your schedule, rather than actually driving your schedule with intentional choices about things that you want to do.
Reduce Your Stress:
How to Stop Being a Slave To Your Busy Schedule
So, how do you stop being a slave to your schedule? Start by checking out my blog from last week where we talk about making sure that your compass is calibrated properly so that you are dialing in the right goals for you. Because if your goals are arbitrary, you might find that you are scrambling because of stories like, "Well, this is just what everybody does around the holiday season. I'm supposed to have a tree decorated like this, and I'm supposed to host this holiday party, and I'm supposed to bake this for my kids, etc."
If that sounds like you, I want you to stop and breathe. (All the way in and out…)
Make Sure Your Actions Align with Your Goals & Values
Are any of those things actually in line with the goals that you have for your life and for your values. If your goal is to enjoy yourself and to be happy and to find some measure of peace in your life, then how does scrambling around and doing all of these things meet that goal?
And if it doesn't, then how can you find a way to let go of how tightly you are holding onto these things/habits/patterns? Because a lot of times what I find is that the answer to stop being a slave to your busy schedule is to learn how to say no to the things that aren't really serving you. Learn how to let them go.
Relieve Stress By Making Time for Play & Relaxation
I want you to take a look at your day, or maybe your week, and list out all of the things that you're doing. See which of those things actually align with your goals and your values and what you want for your life, and which of those things you are just doing because you think that maybe that's what you're supposed to be doing. And then I want you to cross those latter tasks off of your to-do list for this week (the ones that don’t align with your goals and values).
Instead, I want you to substitute something that might be a little bit more fun or relaxing. Find a way to add some play into your day or week. Something that will actually reduce your stress level and help you achieve your real goals for your life (like peace, relaxation, happiness, etc.).
Need More Help With Managing Stress?
If you feel like you need a little bit more help with that last piece - letting go of the busyness and rushing and substituting play and relaxation time - I teach people these skills in my stress management group and I have an upcoming section starting in January 2019.
Past participants have reported feeling noticeably calmer, even after hectic days, as well as being more mindful and getting their lives back on track. Check out the stress management group page below to see how you might also benefit from learning how to reduce your stress.