You’re too busy. A shift has occurred in the past several decades wherein society equates being busy with being successful. Being busy has become a competition. It’s an arms race to see who has the most work, family and social engagements. We get a sense of validation when we can claim we are busier than our friends or colleagues.
Sociologists, researchers and journalists have observed a transformation in which busyness has become increasingly praised and valued over the past several decades. As paid labor has become increasingly skilled and synonymous with success, leisure time has become increasingly viewed as idle. This is the normative view today.
To deal with the stress of our crazy lives, we’re inundated with advice espousing techniques to help us manage our time and organize our schedules. While the life hacks and Pinterest boards seem great at first, they can actually lead to more stress. They often make us feel like we’ve failed if we didn’t meal prep for the week on Sunday or sufficiently color-code our calendar.
So, I offer you a simple yet radical solution for reducing stress associated with a hectic lifestyle. Stop describing yourself as busy. Seriously. Remove the words “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary. Don’t say them. Don’t think them.
Hear me out.
What we lose in today’s hyper busy society is not time itself, but our sense of control over it. The articles espousing techniques to control your life, in some ways, attempt to get at this. They’re saying, if you color-code your calendar, you control it. But the benefits are often short-lived. If you fall off the organized-wagon, you’re back at square one. The most long term and truly beneficial solution for regaining a sense of control over your life is a mental game, not a tangible one.
Having a perceived sense of control over our lives is associated with better physical and mental health. Researchers are increasingly using measures of perceived control as indicators of health and wellness. Psychologists are recommending adolescents and young adults work on stimulating their sense of control in order to improve health and well-being.
Remember, the amount of time you have in a day is no different than anyone else’s. It’s how you prioritize and select the activities in which you engage that is what separate’s your day from others, and what makes your schedule a choice.
There are many obligations we can’t change. What we can change is our attitude toward them. How many times have you been at, say, a party or your child’s soccer game, and consistently stressed about the laundry that’s not done or the groceries you’ve yet to buy? Force yourself to remember that wherever you are, that’s where you’ve placed your priorities in that given moment. Viewing each task or event as a choice in line with your priorities allows to you to better appreciate your own moments.
It’s hard, but it’s doable. I promise, it’s worth it. No color-coding necessary.
Originally published at medium.com