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Behavioral Health, Financially Fit

8 Signs Your Life is Too Busy

We hear it all the time. We say it all the time.  You run into a friend at the grocery store or you pass a coworker in the hallway. They ask, “How are you? How’s life?”

And nine times out of 10, you respond, “Busy.”

We aren’t just busy—we’re too busy. We’re rushing and running ragged and feeling burned out. We have ridiculous expectations of ourselves. And to make matters worse, busyness is often celebrated in our high-achieving, fast-paced culture.

Let me be clear: Hard work is a good thing. But where’s the line between being productive and being unhealthy? How do you know when you’ve gone too far? Here are eight signs that will help you honestly acknowledge if you’re too busy.

1. You’re always trying to multitask.

If you’re eating oatmeal, putting on makeup, and listening to a podcast on your morning commute, you’re too busy. If you’re checking email while sitting at the dinner table and asking your kids about their day, you’re too busy. Sadly, this is how most of us live our lives. And I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of this!

Brain researchers are in agreement: Multitasking is a bad way to manage your time. It simply doesn’t work. Not only that, but doing several things at once is actually damaging your ability to focus, learn, and be present.1 And what’s scary is that we’ve normalized multitasking. One study analyzed the habits of 50,000 workers and found that, on average, people spent 40% of their time multitasking on communication tools.2

What to do about it:

· Do one thing at time. Easier said than done, right? For one week, commit to doing one thing at a time and see how much mental clarity you find.

· Leave work at work. Don’t check email after hours. When you’re off, actually be off.

2. You’re exhausted and overwhelmed.

When we’re too busy, sleep is one of the first things that goes out the window. We have this weird belief in our culture that sleep is optional (sorry to break it to you, but it’s not). We idolize successful CEOs who brag about averaging four hours of sleep a night. Along with physical exhaustion, you probably feel emotionally, mentally and spiritually overwhelmed. There’s just too much going on. You feel swamped.

Here’s a crazy thought: What if you actually felt rested when you woke up in the morning? What if you didn’t experience a small anxiety attack every time you open your calendar? You don’t have to keep living this way!

What to do about it:

· Make sleep a priority. Get seven to nine hours of sleep every single night. Research shows that sleep deprivation is linked to increased stress, heart disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s disease.3

· Total up the hours. You get 168 hours in a week. That’s it. Get out your calendar and do some math. Add up the time you spend sleeping, working, and doing other essential tasks every week.

Then, add up your extra commitments. Do you have any time left? Is this really how you want to live your life?

3. You have to schedule things weeks in advance.

I don’t know if this happens to you, but when my friends and I are trying to plan a time to get together, it feels like we have to do a calculus equation to get our schedules to line up. It’s crazy! And these are my best friends—the women I want to make time for. If you’re always scheduling things weeks in advance, you’re probably too busy.

What to do about it:

· Schedule free time. I know this is ironic, but when you sit down to plan your week or month, schedule “free time” to create margin. Don’t squeeze commitments in every hour of the day and every night of the week. Scheduling free time gives you the opportunity to rest!

· Say “no” to being overcommitted. If you’re tied up every single weeknight, take a hard look at your calendar and see if there’s anything you can get off your plate to create more space.

4. You have a hard time focusing and enjoying the moment.

It’s amazing how much time we spend on our devices, catching up on other people’s lives, hooked on the news, or scrolling numbly through our social apps. In 2019, the average person spent three hours and fifteen minutes a day on their mobile device.4 Just think about what life would look like if you spent half of that time doing something else!

And it’s not just about screens. Even when we aren’t on our phones, it’s easy to let our thoughts wander. We worry about things that have already happened or things in the future. It takes effort, but we can learn to focus our thoughts on what’s happening right in front of us.

What to do about it: · Learn to control wandering thoughts. Check out this episode from my show to learn some tactical ways to focus your attention on what’s true in your life right now. · Read Redefining Anxiety. My friend and fellow Ramsey Personality Dr. John Delony wrote an 80-page Quick Read about the nature of anxiety. If you struggle with racing thoughts and difficulty enjoying them moment, you might also be dealing with some anxiety. This book can help!

5. You never take time off.

If you never take breaks, if you work through lunch, if you don’t remember the last time you had a day to “do nothing,” then you’re too busy. You’ve forgotten how important it is to slow down. But what if you could just stop? Stop the rushing. Stop the running. Stop trying to keep up. I’ve got a news flash for you: Things aren’t going to fall apart if you take a nap, or if you don’t cross off all 400 things on your to-do list today.

This one hits home for me. I am a doer. I love finding solutions for problems. And I love my job! So, I have to be extra intentional to take time off and rest. But every time I do, I’m reminded that it’s worth it.

What to do about it:

· Step away from work. If you get PTO at work, use it! Plan a vacation or staycation to unwind and connect with your family. If you’re self-employed or have a non-traditional work schedule, talk to your spouse or a friend about creative ways you can take time off.

· Leave work at work. Once you’ve left the office, closed your laptop, or signed off for the day, leave work alone. Be fully present wherever you are.

6. You feel out of balance.

I’ve been a speaker for over 10 years now, and the number one question I get at events (from all types of audiences) is “How do you balance it all?” Feeling out of balance is hard to put into words, but you know it when you experience it. You just feel off.

Here’s how I define balance: It’s not about doing everything for an equal amount of time. It’s about doing the right things at the right time. And when you’re too busy, chances are you’re not even sure what the “right things” are.

What to do about it:

· Ask yourself, What is most important to me? The starting point to finding balance is knowing what’s most important so you can focus your time and energy on those things or people or tasks.

· Own your version of balance. Balance is going to look different for you than it will for your best friend, your coworker or even your spouse. That’s okay. In fact, that’s how it should be!

7. You feel guilty a lot of the time.

One of the side effects of being too busy and out of balance is feeling a low-level sense of guilt. Because we’re not clear on what actually matters, we don’t feel good about how we’re spending our time. This seems to be especially challenging for women.

What to do about it:

· Understand where the guilt is coming from. A lot of the time, it’s coming from ourselves! Dig deep into that feeling of guilt. Do you have ridiculous expectations of yourself? Do you feel pressure at work? Are you trying to be everyone’s superhero?

8. You’re filling your calendar with things you don’t even want to do.

This is the worst, isn’t it? I’ve been there, y’all. I’ve said yes to so many things I didn’t even want to do, like coaching my son’s soccer team or staying up way past midnight to create Pinterest-perfect birthday party decorations.

We say yes when we should say no for a lot of reasons. Maybe you’re afraid of looking like a failure. Maybe you think you need to be Mother Teresa and carry the world on your shoulders. Maybe you need to accomplish something to feel good about yourself.

Whatever the reason, there’s something important you need to know: You control what goes on your calendar. Period. Almost always, you get to decide how you spend your time. So, if you want to change, it starts by taking responsibility for those choices.

What to do about it:

· Be honest with yourself. Pull out your calendar and take a look at every single thing you do throughout the week. Be honest with yourself: Is this how you want to spend your time?

· Get in touch with your motives. Why do you say yes to things you don’t want to do?

Learn to Protect Your Time

It’s not easy to say no. I get it! It took me a few hard lessons before I realized that this was a skill I needed to learn. I talk about this topic a lot on The Christy Wright Show, and I’d love for you to check it out! Each week, I’ll share how you can break through what’s holding you back, create a life you’re proud of, and build confidence in yourself and the God who created you.

The main thing I want you to hear is this: You’ve got this one wonderful life. I don’t want you to wake up every morning feeling exhausted and defeated before the day even begins. If you’re too busy, take it seriously. Because how you spend your time is how you spend your life.