Being busy is not cool! That is my quarantine (and beyond) motto!
I sound like a broken record about the dangers of productivity because I struggle with it. I am, by the design of society, a do-er. I’m an achiever, a go get it kind of gal. I used to feed into the productivity culture. I was forever proud of succeeding by society’s standards. AndI had good test scores, perfect reviews at work – I did everything that I could to look good on paper.
Not only did this feed my perfectionism but it wore me out. I went to college teetering on the edge of burnout. Through trial and error, a couple bad grades and some really questionable decisions I found my way to doing less.
Society & Productivity
Since then I’ve fallen in and out of the productivity rat race. Corporate America is not designed for those of us who would prefer to enjoy the imperfections and playful moments of life. We are innately competitive. Forever wanting to be the best. Trying to become the biggest. And in the end, even if we get there we never truly feel satisfied. We are always looking for the next to do. To fight against this we need to learn who we really are – we need to separate who we are from what we do!
BEING BUSY IS NOT COOL
Let’s get started by repeating my new favorite mantra. Being Busy is not COOL!
I got this mantra from a speaker at an HR conference I attended in 2018 and it has stuck with me because it’s a crucial lesson. Over the last two years I have worked to embody this message and over the last six months I finally started to get it down. It may seem counter productive for a speaker at an HR conference to share that being busy is not cool but I promise you the benefits of slowing down are worth more than you could imagine.
One of the benefits of slowing down is the prevention of monkey mind. I’ll share more on monkey mind later in the week but basically it’s the part of our brain that kicks on when we multi-task. It pulls us out of the moment and into mindless responses. Monkey brain or monkey mind can be detrimental to relationships – it causes us to snap at people because we are overwhelmed instead of taking the time to consciously respond, it causes us to take the easiest route even if a better one presents itself and it can cause mindless mistakes in our day to day actions. Monkey brain is auto-pilot and we want to be present and driving the vehicle.
Additional Benefits of Doing Less
When we do less we give ourselves permission to rest and heal! When we do less we give ourselves time to ask the bigger questions. What do I want? Do I stand for this? Where do I want to go during my life and how do I want to get there? I’m a big proponent of identifying what we want and staying present on our journey to get there. By reducing the extra fluff in our lives we give ourselves quiet moments to get to know who we really are!
What Does Doing Less Really Look Like?
In theory this sounds great, in application it’s a bit of a mess. I struggle with giving myself permission to do what I want and chill. My perfectionism will kick in and I somehow want to be perfect at doing nothing. So instead of forcing myself to “do nothing” I let myself do less of what I don’t want and do more of what I want.
I give myself permission to rest and if I feel like being “productive” after I’ve given myself permission I’ll just do what I want. This looks like:
- Doing less with my hair
- Doing less with my makeup
- Doing less of what I don’t enjoy such as engage in narrow minded conversations, scroll aimlessly on twitter – less worrying about what other people think.
With this extra time I’m able to make room for more play. I get to be present more often, I get to enjoy the little moments, coffee, sunrises, day dreaming, writing shitty poems, coming up with ideas for stories and creating content like this (I’m currently writing this during a time I told myself that it was ok to rest – but I felt inspired to do it)
Sometimes I do things with my rest time and sometimes I marathon Harry Potter movies or lay on the floor and day dream. It varies greatly depending on how stressed I’ve been and what my work schedule has been like. Regardless of what I do this permission to play time ends up sparking more creative ideas. I now get to make the content I want to make, spend time editing videos that I enjoy, writing posts like this.
It’s All Up to You
I know this is a confusing hard time for all of us and we are doing whatever helps us cope but if you have the space – try giving yourself time off. Repeat to yourself that being busy is not cool and see where that takes you. Try playing, try figuring out what you want to do, try meeting your emotions, triggers and feelings where they are.
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