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It seems like in our society today when you ask someone how they are doing, a kind-of bragging response is, “So busy. Soo busy. Man, I am BUSY.”
Somewhere along the way, we started associating being “busy” with being important. However, just because a person is busy doesn’t mean they are the end all, be all, king tut of existence. Some of the smartest and most influential people in my life somehow find time for frequent emailing and phone calls. Seth Godin is one of my favorite authors, who has also written around 16 New York Times Best Selling books, and I’ve exchanged several emails with him over the years. I’m sure the guy is busier than you or I could ever imagine, the only difference is he prioritizes his life so that he has time to do the work that matters to him.
The problem is, we have accepted that “being busy” is what we should strive for. Not only is that bad advice, it’s straight dumb, and also bad for your health.
Case in point: me
This past week I got sick for the first time in a few years. We were driving to a friend’s house in Alabama and it came on fast. I felt nauseated and my head was pounding. We had been driving for hours, and it seemed like the past six months was starting to catch up to me all at once. Even the last few weeks our schedule has been crazy chaotic. All of November we were in a rush to make it to Orlando by Thanksgiving, and once we were there we were ready to make it back to Texas. I’ve been working several jobs a week, traveling constantly, and my body finally said “no more.”
We somehow made it to our destination and found ourselves at dinner with our Alabama friends and their fifteen month old baby, Olive, at a Mexican food restaurant. I was blown away at the large amounts of food a fifteen month old could consume. Baby Olive straight up ate more than all of us four adults, no kidding. She started off with guacamole and kept plugging all the way through the end of dinner, she even finished off a few of my tortillas I didn’t finish. I made a comment about how it’s possible at that age babies haven’t developed that part of their brain that says, “I’m probably full and should stop eating now.”
Whether or not that’s true (I have no idea), I realize I do the same thing to my work as Olive does to Guacamole. I keep piling it up more and more, until finally I realize maybe I’ve had too much. However, by that time I probably have a dirty diaper and nobody around me is happy.
A couple time a year, I have to think back and remind myself of the activities that help me slow down and put my life into perspective. They aren’t very difficult actions, but without them my life slowly starts to crumble. I’ve found that by applying all of these to each day I can somehow prioritize things better, and don’t feel the heaviness of stress weighing me down.
Because I don’t want to get sick anymore and I don’t want you to get sick (or stressed). Here are ten things I use to not get overloaded and stressed out.
1. Start off the morning with a book that provokes deep thinking.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
These two are a couple of my favorites because they provoke deep thinking and they aren’t work related. I find they help me think about the big picture and not worry about the little things.
2. Journal every day.
Journaling is the number one thing that has helped me towards achieving goals and clarifying my thoughts. I write about what is going on in my life, but more importantly I write down my greatest fears and greatest ambitions and how I hope to achieve them. It’s a self help book written for me, by me, every single day.
3. Take time to think about long term goals and what you’ve done to achieve them.
I touched on this in journaling, but really it deserves it’s own number. Especially around this time of year you should be taking time to think about what the long term goals in your life. Michael Hyatt just released a new video series helping people redefine their roadmap for 2015, check it out here!
4. Decide what is the most important thing you need to get done today, and do that first.
5. Instead of making a “to-do” list, try to list a few meaningful actions that will help support long-term goals such as your health or well-being.
Bad to-do list
1. Go to Dry cleaner
2. Pick up dog
3. Watch the new Walking Dead
Good to-do list
1. Work out (promotes long term goal of being healthy)
2. Sleep 8 hours
3. Read a book
6. Spend time off-line
7. Go for a walk when things get stressful
8. Write down the things that are stressing you out.
Fear has a way of dissolving once you can put it on paper and realize how ridiculous it is. As a second step to this, write down what is the worst thing that can happen if this fear comes true- accept that fate and then realize the worst thing that can happen is usually not so bad.
9. Take deep breaths
10. Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for
Don’t strive to be busy. Strive to enjoy the work you do everyday, by taking time to think about the big picture and pursue long term goals amidst your crazy days. Most people will read this and not apply any of these things. I often hear people bragging about the little amount of sleep they have gotten lately, and truth be told I feel sorry for them. I sleep nearly 8 hours a night, every night with rare exception. Why? Because without that sleep I’m worthless and I’m not the best version of myself.
If you were going to try and implement any of these, I would say the most important is number 1 and 2. Time to read a deep, thought provoking book and journaling about your life are the two most important things I do every morning. It sets me up for an intentional day and to not just do “busy” work.
How are YOU doing today?