Being Busy is Not a Badge of Honor

The following post is from Laura of I’m an Organizing Junkie:

image credit: vxla

Last year at this time I wrote a post titled 6 Benefits to Getting Organized and Slowing Down, but knowing the benefits and actually doing something about it are two completely separate actions.

It’s a struggle so many of us contend with as we try to figure out how to balance and fill in the 24 hours we each have available to us in a given day. Do you desire to jump off the activity train that runs at full speed with no destination in site? Today we’ll focus on 3 steps that can help us slam on the brakes of the chaos train we are on so we can truly experience the benefits of living a simpler slower way of life.

Have you noticed being busy has become a way of life? It’s almost a badge of honor to say we’re busy when someone stops us in the street to say hello. Does it make us more important? More worthwhile? More significant to the human race if we declare that we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off? How in the world did this become a popular way to live?

Today there are so many options, choices and activities presented to us that we scramble to fit in as many in as we can for a variety of reasons that make sense to us at the time. Everyone else is doing it, if I don’t, who will?, it’s only for an hour, it’s fun and exciting, it will help my child get ahead, and so on and so on. What we neglect to give some thought to when we are saying yes to all these opportunities (and let’s face it some of them can be great!) is the time we can actually afford to devote to them. We say yes, sign up and then decide to work out the logistics.

image credit: emma.kata

Here are 3 steps to help you make the most of the time you have:

1. Establish time rules.

What I mean by this is to establish a set of criteria ahead of time that will make it easy for you to determine whether or not an activity is appropriate to say yes to.

For instance, I don’t volunteer for anything that doesn’t have a definitive ending time within the next 9 months. Also, my kids are each allowed to participate in one activity at a time and it can’t take place more than two days a week. In addition, Friday night is family night and no activities can take place that night.

Knowing my criteria and having it in place gives me a direct out and the ability to say NO when an activity is presented to me that doesn’t fit into my established boundaries and limits. Everyone’s “time rules” will be different and only you can decide what is ideal for you family.

2. Schedule the neglected activities you crave.

If family time is something you wish you had more of, make sure you schedule it in first before filling up the remaining time slots, not the other way around! Scheduling this time together like you would any other activity means that time is protected and when someone or something else presents another offer, you can easily say, “Oh, sorry, I’m afraid not, that time is already spoken for.”

Planning ahead for the important things, instead of trying to fit them in after everything else occurs, makes them a priority and increases the chances of them actually happening. Whatever you wish you had more time for (even something as simple as a long, hot soak in the tub), schedule it before anything else and you’ll be amazed how much easier it is to protect that time and keep something else from invading its space.

3. Try activity combining to save time.

To cut down on the number of “outside” hours we commit to in our house we combine activities as much as possible.

For example, I really wanted my son to learn how to swim but I also wanted time for exercise. The solution to fitting them both in so they don’t take up any more time in the schedule is to combine them. Twice a week while my son is attending swimming lessons, I go and swim laps at the same time. It works beautifully.

If family time is something you desire more of but your kids extracurricular activities are making it impossible for that to happen, then why not forget the hockey practices and go for a family bike ride or hike instead.

I see families devoted to their kid’s activities that take up four and five days of the week, for what? So they get more exercise, stay out of trouble or become the next Wayne Gretzky? A family bike ride or hike can accomplish all those things just as well (except of course of becoming the next NHL great but, really, what were your child’s chances anyway…be realistic!), plus you get the added benefit of spending time with the wonderful beings you brought into this world.

How fast is your chaos train going? What steps have you taken to step off the train?

Laura is a wife and mother to three great kids, lives in Alberta, Canada and is an addict of all things organizing. You can find her blogging regularly at I’m an Organizing Junkie, and her organizing book, Clutter Rehab: 101 Organizing Tips & Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It!, is in stores now!