Finding Balance in a Busy World, Part I

Busyness1

“Busy” is the New “Fine”

Many people seem to equate being busy with being important. Somehow, being busy by living in a state of perpetual hustle and bustle and constant exhaustion seems to say, “I matter.” In fact, if you’re not crazy busy, others look at you with resentful longing.

This constant busyness leaves many feeling like they’re running an endless race with an illusive finish line. They feel trapped, but they remain ignorant of why. Being too busy to find balance is simply much easier that doing the hard work of changing.

I remember when most people answered the question, “How are you?” with “Fine.” Now, the pat answers more often than not is “Busy.”

After all, busy is what you’re supposed to be, right? If you’re not busy, you’re probably missing out on something. Or, maybe busyness just keeps boredom at bay. What would you do if you weren’t so busy anyway?

I remember when busyness kept me moving and gave me purpose. Those were the days when my “Busy” answer existed as both a boast and a complaint. I knew I was too busy, yet I didn’t know how else to be considered successful. Then one day I just couldn’t keep up anymore.

My crash and burn forced a choice between doing the hard work to change, to become unbusy, or remaining unhealthy, depressed and miserable. After much searching in the form of doctor visits, counseling sessions, reading, studying and praying, I came to realize that not only did my approach need to change but also my thinking.

In this process of becoming unbusy, the road to balance became increasingly clear. Right action and right thinking — the steps and the path — must partner to create a balanced life.

Stepping Toward Balance

Finding balance is not about establishing the right time-management habits or organizational strategies. After all, none of these will matter if you have too much to manage and organize in the first place.

Finding balance begins with implementing actionable approaches that allow you to do the hard work necessary to become unbusy. For me, that involved three choices that daily direct my steps through the healing process and into a relatively balanced existence.

  1. Ask “Why?” and “What?” These questions serve to get at the root cause. Why do you feel sick all the time? Why can’t you sleep? Why did you say “yes” to that commitment? What keeps you at that job when you hate it? What pushes you to be involved in every activity that comes along? Continually asking “What?” and “Why?” questions can help discover motives at the heart of chronic busyness. They help you understand your life rather than continuing to live from one reaction to the next.
  2. Refuse to quit. Persevere. Keep asking “What?” and “Why?” until you have answers, then ask some more. Dig until an understanding of the root cause emerges. We live in an information age like none ever before us, and the answers are there for those willing to pursue them. You don’t have to live in ignorance of why chronic busyness plagues your life.
  3. Keep taking small steps. Most progress happens in small steps taken gradually over time that add up to make a big difference. Rarely does progress happen in leaps and bounds. Asking “Why?” and “What?” gives the steps to take, and refusing to quit makes taking another step a non-negotiable. Eventually, if you refuse to give up, you’ll look back and realize you’ve left busyness behind and have found balance.

These three approaches kept my actions headed in the right direction. At the same time, I realized that I could take right steps but still head in the wrong direction if I was on the wrong path. So while my choices to find the root cause, not give up and keep taking small steps gave me the motivation to keep moving forward, I also needed to change my thinking in order to make sure I was headed toward balance and not just another version of busyness.

Next week, we’ll explore the principles of balance that create the thinking necessary to leave busyness, overload and overwhelm behind and to achieve and maintain a balanced life.

DISCUSSION: How will you take steps towards a more balanced life today?

9 thoughts on “Finding Balance in a Busy World, Part I

  1. Good commentary. Busyness without a purpose (a defined clear vision of why, what and where you are investing in your present state of busyness) is what I have called for a long time: Perpetual Motion on a Grease Slick! It draws a lot of attention, often kicks up a lot smoke but there is no traction. Nothing actually gets done but a lot of energy is wasted.

  2. Kari, This is so important!! Your three steps are very doable, I like that. I also like the fact that you didn't focus on time management but on real change. Sometimes things just have to go. Great post, Kari! Sharing it on FB later this morning. Blessings to you!

    • Thank you for this positive comment. This & next week\’s post are basically a luncheon seminar I\’m giving today. You\’ve confirmed I\’m on the right track. Thank you also for sharing!

  3. I'd like to give you a more complete answer but I'm really busy and need to get back to what I am supposed to be doing. 🙂 (You knew someone would do that to you didn't you?) Good advice Kari. I know I tend to have seasons where I am extremely busy and wham! I get knocked on my behind.
    My recent post Envy

  4. Too true, Kari. I think it's like a drug or even an idol. Busyness will consume us if we allow it to, and it may or may not get anything truly accomplished because the only real goal is appear busy or stay busy. There are seasons of busyness (like now with our kids and the end of the school year), but that's not how we live our lives. This is something I've had to learn over the last years and something I need reminders about–so thank you for today's reminder. 🙂

  5. You're right, Jason. Busyness can become both drug-like and an idol. We have to diligently fight against it because our culture certainly promotes this happening. In fact, if we do nothing, it will happen. I need the reminder too… often.

  6. Pingback: Finding Balance in a Busy World, Part II |

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