If you looked at my calendar, you'd think I should be having a pretty relaxing day.
Certainly there were a number of quotidian household duties -- preparing for guests tonight when another just left this morning, navigating household finances, grocery shopping and so on -- and then just writing. A joy! Every artist's dream day!
So why was it that as I went to refill my mug (with fair trade locally roasted french-pressed coffee and adorable glass bottle local Idaho farm half and half) that I exhaled loudly like someone who was so stressed?
Because busyness is actually not just a product of the things we need to get done -- it how we feel about what we're doing.
If you looked at my computer, you would see that I (shamefully) had 8 tabs open. Tabs to find a good flight deal on my upcoming Thanksgiving travels. A tab to track the status of our first mortgage payments. A tab with my favorite writing site open (750words.org) and a tab with New Minimalism's site open. Then another 3 or 4 open to videos of people celebrating the CUBS WORLD SERIES VICTORY last night (my favorites are Kris Bryant making the winning catch, the man listening to the game at his father's gravestone and everyone of anyone over 90 celebrating -- you are welcome.).
But seriously guys, I was doing it to myself.
I fell into the classic busy-hole of attempting to multitask and instead ended up distracting myself beyond measure as time flew by. When it was all of the sudden lunch time and all of my most important tasks were still undone? It made me feel scattered, unaccomplished and *gasp* even busier. Which is the great paradox of feeling so busy -- you often feel it the most when you are not actually getting things done.
But sometimes you just ARE busy, right?
On the flip side just this Monday I woke up early, lit a candle, turned on the classical station and drank my tea as I wrote thousands of original words for our book. All this before the sun rose (to be fair, it rises suuuuper late these days in Boise).
I then took my dog for a long walk and made Cam and myself a nice lunch. After lunch I tackled a group of daunting emails and then navigated personal and work financial to-dos for the month. I felt like I was getting everything done -- and that relaxed me.
Heck, in college I was the captain of a division 1 team, worked a side job, wrote an honors thesis and graduated a term early and I rarely felt busy. I was always just focused on the task right in front of me. At the pool, I swam. In the library, I studied. In the lab, I worked. I was proactive, scheduled thoughtfully, got a good night sleep for sure. But then I just sat down and got shit done. My college self (and even Monday self) would have laughed at my today self being such whiner pants.
The good news is it's easy to turn A busy day around by doing these two things:
1) Stop doing everything and start doing one thing.
Make a list and start checking things off. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT open another browser tab until the previous task is complete. Relish your feeling of accomplishment.
2) Tell yourself you're not busy.
Literally, say it aloud: "I am not busy." That's what I ended up saying to myself as I reheated my coffee, just after I startled myself with that exasperated exhale. Hearing myself say"I am not busy." helped me to settle into that sensation. Instead of rushing back to my computer I took 3 seconds to lean down and smell my coffee and then to look out at our fall yard. My schedule is full, but my mind determines how I feel about that. And, I am NOT busy.