I’m not going to lie. I’m addicted to busyness. I probably always will be. I absolutely love the feeling of always being on the go, always getting something done, always being productive. And I brag about it. When people ask me how things are going, I often smile and say, “Busy, but good.” For whatever reason, I think of busyness as the way things should be, and it makes me feel accomplished when I can keep up that state.
But I know this isn’t healthy. And it’s something I struggle with constantly. Because even though busyness can be enjoyable, I also know that it can be destructive. If I let my life become one big to-do list and I’m constantly just trying to finish one thing so I can move on to the next, I lose sight of what really matters. I become disconnected from everyone and everything, and I end up feeling isolated and unfulfilled. So I fight my tendency to fall into the safe routine of busyness in the best ways I know how.
One of the greatest ways I’ve found to resist the allure of busyness is keeping a realistic view of the progress I’m making. And this is really hard for a few different reasons. Like the victim running from the villain in a horror movie, I often feel like I’m putting forth so much effort and not making any progress. And I’ve heard many other people express this same feeling. We work and we work, but it never feels like we’re getting anything done. Why is that, and how can we fix it?
First of all, I think we’re overloaded. We live in a culture that tells us busy is the only proper way to be. We have so many responsibilities coming from so many different places, and we just can’t seem to say no. We spread ourselves so thin that we can barely keep it together, and so when we try to get things done, we feel like we’re not making any progress because we still have a million other things we have to do.
The solution to this problem is a simple one, but it’s not easy to carry out. We have to learn to say no. We have to learn to let other people handle things and focus on the responsibilities that are core to us. I recently heard it explained this way in a Bible study: Each of us needs to pick the two or three things that are core to our calling, and we need to focus solely on those things. If an opportunity arises that sounds interesting but isn’t related to those core things, we need to turn it down. We have to trim the fat off our to-do lists so that we can put all our energy and effort into the few things that really matter.
But even when I’m not overloaded, it still sometimes feel like I’m never getting anything done, no matter how hard I work. I think another part of the problem is how segmented my life is. I have my school life, my home life, my church life, my relationships, and so on. And at different times, different areas of my life have to take a leading role. Sometimes I need to be totally focused on school. Other times, I have things around the house that I need to get done. But no matter what I’m doing, I often wonder if I should instead be working on something else. Sure, my apartment is dirty, but is vacuuming really as productive as reading for class? No matter which one I choose, I’m going to feel like I should have been doing the other one.
I think this problem is solved by looking at our lives wholistically. In reality, there’s not a school Devon and a family Devon. There’s just me. It’s all my life. And when I’m working on something in one area of my life, it affects the rest. Cleaning my apartment helps me feel more comfortable in my space, which keeps me mentally healthy and allows me to work well when I do decide to do schoolwork. Doing schoolwork is training me for ministry. And so on. I’m not doing these things just to do them. I’m becoming something, and every bit of progress is a step in the right direction. If I can just remember that, it can help me feel like I’m getting things done.
Finally, I feel like I’m never getting anything done because I’m way too hard on myself. Even when I get something done I say, “Well, it could have been better,” or, “Why did I wait so long to do that?” I never let myself celebrate my progress. And that is draining. We have to celebrate even the small victories. I’ve learned to take a pause after every accomplishment, no matter how tiny, and just enjoy it. And it’s made a huge difference.
So there you have it. That’s why I feel like I’m never getting anything done, and how I deal with it. This has just been on my mind lately for whatever reason, and I hope that this has been helpful to you. Thank you for reading, friends, and I’ll see you guys next week!