At this point, it’s old news that we’re too busy. Our schedules have become so saturated by our responsibilities, commitments, expectations, and plans that we simply don’t have time for anything else. There are only 24 hours in each day, and we fill every single one of them to the brim.
This overcommitment isn’t without consequence. Sleep deprivation is on the rise. (Though if you’re looking for a sound investment, melatonin sales are through the roof.) Stress and anxiety are now baseline parts of life rather than sporadic occurrences. And trying to plan any sort of meaningful time with loved ones is a chore that will drive one to their wits’ end.
Never is our culture’s obsession with being busy more apparent than during the holiday season. We’re rushing from one party to another, stopping in-between to pick up gifts for every person we’ve ever met, trying desperately not to miss a single event or program. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, life is an absolute blur. If you blink, you’ll miss it completely. But again, I’m not telling you anything new.
I’m beginning to give up on the fight against busyness, at least during this time of year. I do my best, but even my time management skills are no match for the constant societal pressure I feel to be constantly go-go-going. Besides, there are too many people I want to see and too many things I want to do. The temptation to never ever stop is real, and I’m not always the best at fighting it.
But not all is lost. I’ve learned that even if I can’t stop being busy all the time, I can at least be selective about what I’m busy doing. If I’m going to be constantly doing things, then they better be the things that matter to me the most. Otherwise, what’s the point in being busy at all?
Prioritization is a difficult skill to learn, but I’m starting to think it’s the key to navigating this tireless world we live in. If we’re going to make our lives meaningful in the midst of all of the stress, noise, and busyness, then we have to know what matters to us, and we have to put those things first. This takes practice. It takes focus. It takes discipline. But it’s doable, and it’s worth it.
It will look different for different people. For some, it may mean literally making an ordered list of the people and things that matter most and then referring to that list when deciding what to commit to. For me, it’s more about learning to say no to the things that aren’t important enough. That may sound cold, but the truth is that if we simply say yes to everything, there eventually won’t be enough room for it all. And if we’re not careful, the most important things may fall through the cracks.
So yes, I’m extremely busy this time of year, just as I’m sure you are. I haven’t figured out how not to be busy yet, but if I do, I promise to write an article about it. In the meantime, I’m practicing discernment in how I choose to be busy in hopes that I can make my busyness mean something. I’d encourage you to do the same so that we can all make this time of year something special for ourselves and those we love.