The Obsession With Being Busy

Women are active people. We pride ourselves on being busy and get a ton done.  The fact is, the average woman works 1-3 more hours per day than the average man.

Why?  What are we trying to prove?

We keep ourselves busy for several reasons: We want to feel important. We want to feel validated. We love how important we feel when we are busy. We want to seem like we are more important than anyone else.  It’s an addiction!

However, the drive to be busy goes even deeper. Often times, we don’t know what we want in life. So, we load ourselves up with responsibility. We feel like we have to be perfect and do all the things we see others doing (cooking, cleaning, taking our kids to the park, volunteering at school, managing the laundry, house, family paperwork). Adding a business or job to the mix just amplifies things.  

We develop attitudes like “If you want something done right (or at all), do it yourself.”  We start doing things our spouses should do, our co-workers should do, our children should do or just simply taking on too much that may not even need to be done in the first place.

Being busy and trying to do everything for everyone becomes a drug.  We become exhausted and pissed off for no reason.  But we dare not give up one of our precious responsibilities because those are our badge of honor, our picture to paint to the world of just how valuable and important we are.  If we aren’t busy…we must not be important!  So we take on more, refusing to give up any of the things that “only we can do right.”

Am I speaking your language, Moms and Wives?

But what isn’t getting done when you are so busy?  As women, we tend to put ourselves very last. So when the day gets busier and busier, we don’t do the things on our list that seemingly only benefit ourselves.

Running short on time?  Just skip your own shower and don’t get dressed.  No time for lunch? That’s okay, just skip it and eat some junk later.  Run yourself ragged and then when cocktail hour rolls around, pour yourself a big glass of wine because you earned it by killing yourself thanklessly for everyone else that day. And -if I know you- you’re going to drink that glass of wine while feeding the kids, watching the neighbor’s kid while they run out for a minute, rotating the laundry, picking up the house and checking your email.  

Hardly a reward system that is.

And what’s worse about this behavior is that we glorify it.  “I have ALL this stuff to do and I’m such a hot mess.  I hardly slept because the baby was in our bed all night, I skipped breakfast and probably won’t get a chance to shower until tomorrow.  I am supposed to go to a wedding this weekend and I have no time to shop for something to wear so I’ll just go in something I hate.  My kids have so many activities and the house is a mess and I feel bad asking my husband to help…” and so on. We (you!) are exasperated. 

So what do we do next?

We scroll social media and make it worse.  Otherwise known as the “I’ll just have a little ‘me time’ and scroll Facebook” activity.  Newsflash: looking at the highlight reel of everyone else’s life is NOT ‘me time’!  This is where your head goes: 

“Look at her! How does she always look so nice? I never look nice.  I don’t even have a picture of myself on my own Facebook page because I never look nice.  I must be doing something wrong.”

or “Maybe I need professional family photos like that? I’ll put it on my list.”

or “Oh that person’s kid is enrolled in 4 sports this summer? Mine are only in 1…maybe I should let them do another?” and on and on. 

It’s called “compare and despair.”

Then we add more to our lists of what we think makes us important…chasing that feeling of “enough.” We try to fill that empty feeling of “less than” by doing more for others and piling onto our lists.  Surely if other people are happy with us, we will FINALLY feel love and fulfillment…right? 

Wrong!  We need to hit the pause button and look at everything we are doing. We waste our lives with this cycle of activity.

What -specifically- are you responsible for in life.  And how much of that do you actually NEED to do?  

Because what is happening here is this: we have NO IDEA what we want.  When we feel insecure and compare ourselves to other women, it is because there is some need inside of us that we are not meeting…maybe the need to for confidence in our appearance, the need for time with our spouse or alone or even just the need for sleep and good food. 

Whatever it is, it stems entirely from doing too much for everyone else and not enough for ourselves. 

The sad truth is that many women in this situation really have no clue what they actually like to do or want to do in life.  We have to figure out where our strengths are and lean into them.  Then ask for help where we need it and let the chips fall where they may on the tasks that may not even have needed to be done in the first place.

We need to stop trying to be the owner and operator of every single thing in our our lives. The need to control everything and be right all the time is not only hard on ourselves…it is hard on the people we love most.

Need another reason to stop being so busy?  It’s killing you.  According to one study, there is an alarming link between women working longer hours (both at home and the office) and the rise of certain cancers and heart disease.  The obsession with being busy is literally taking women out.  Need convincing? Read this Daily Mail article that lays it all out.

So here’s what I have for you:

You are going to go on a “Busy Diet.” And, by that, I mean we are going to take some things off your plate.

I want you to print out the worksheet (available in the Plowing Forward Facebook group files. Instructions enclosed on the document).  It is going to help you identify several things:

1) Realize really quickly how many idle tasks fill your day.

2) Visualize what you like and what you need to change.

3) Gain control!

It’s a fantastic exercise.  You will feel lighter and more capable….and you will have even more of the control you crave!  Remember what you do with that control is up to you. Will you hold onto it and brag about how busy you are? Or take charge and dole out some of the tasks? Completing this worksheet is just one small step you can take into gaining focus in your days.

So take some steps back.  What do you really LOVE to do.  What do you NEED to do.  What should you probably hand over to someone else?  And what will you do with that extra time this gives you?

Watch me discuss this live here (I’m live on Facebook every Monday morning!):

Share your thoughts here or tag me on Facebook or Instagram with just how you felt after seeing that worksheet completed!  

 

If you like this article and want more of it, let know! Subscribe to the Plowing Forward for the freshest posts and worksheets (look below!) and please spread the word with anyone who may benefit from this information. 

Thanks for stopping by and until next time, keep Plowing Forward!

 

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