Find ways to develop skills that matter, even beyond Kiwanis.
7 tips for reframing “busy”
Amanda DeSua, president of the Slinger Kiwanis Club, Slinger, Wisconsin
“How are you?”
Over the years, I’ve noticed how many people respond to that question with “Ugh, so busy!” or “I’m really busy.”
As a full-time working mom of two daughters who also teaches as an adjunct on weekends and volunteers with my Kiwanis club and at a local farm, their replies often provoked an emotional response from me that wasn’t empathetic — and even led to a competition of busyness!
I started to think about how I could answer the question myself more positively. It helped to reframe the term “busy.” Busyness means you’re healthy and skilled enough to be a contributing member of society. When you’re busy at home, work or in life, you’re in a position to offer your strengths to an organization or community and contribute to improvement or accomplishment. And isn’t that what we wish for?
But what if your busyness prevents you from doing things you enjoy? Here are some tips to help keep it manageable.
- Squeeze self-care and exercise into small breaks. For example, do squats while you pump gas or blow-dry your hair. Turn cleaning into a fun activity or exercise by getting everyone involved and playing loud music while you clean the house. Take the stairs or park far away when you have time. Make a habit of thinking of things you are grateful for while you’re at a red light.
- Schedule activities that bring you joy. Check work email during lunch, so you can schedule a 20-minute walk on occasion. Strategically run errands so you can get more done in a given amount of time and then treat yourself to something that makes you smile. Plan time with friends/family in advance so you know it will happen.
- Notice how your productivity is influenced by what you do, and when. Instead of spending 30 minutes every day catching up with your work friend, allow yourself to eat lunch with them on Fridays — and use that time on the other days to get things done.
- Prioritize tasks and keep an hour-by-hour schedule for doing them. Save tasks that don’t need immediate attention for another day. That can alleviate the stress of not completing something that has a deadline.
- Say a polite “no” to what you don’t have time for. Instead of saying you’re “too busy to do that,” try: “Thanks for asking. I really wish my schedule would allow that right now.” Or: “I’d be happy to, if you could help me take something else off my plate.”
- Get comfortable asking for help. At home, don’t let frustration build up. Catch this feeling early and say something like, “I’m one person, and right now there are four things to do. Is anyone available to help me?” In my household, asking politely often has a very different response than complaining or demanding. Even young children can be industrious when you make chores into a game or fun activity.
- Celebrate getting things done. I love to write my weekend tasks as a to-do list — and when I finish it, crumpling it up, doing a happy dance and “shooting” it into the recycling like I’m a basketball player. To get there, it can help to put enjoyable activities between the tasks on your list. For example, work on a project for 20 minutes and then do five minutes of yoga stretches.
A full schedule is evidence that you are helping others or accomplishing important tasks. But you’re in control of how you view your schedule and how to make life more manageable. Remember, life is about balance and boundaries. There are benefits to positive thinking and reframing “busy.”