Are you too busy to live your life? upon a time I was taught the Transcendental Meditation technique. It’s a mantra-based meditation that is done for 20 minutes twice a day, but that is not my point. The thing about the training that keeps coming back to me is this frequent admonishment:

If you are too busy to meditate, then you are too busy.

As a time management consultant I now believe this concept can be applied to ANY activity in life that is important to you:

If you are too busy to _________, then you are too busy.

If you are too busy to do what's important to you, then you are too busy. Share on X

Now, this is not about trying to get you to meditate. I really don’t care what you spend your time doing! I only care if you are stressed out by spending your time doing too many of the “wrong” things (the ones that don’t support your desired lifestyle and goals), or by the negative language you use to describe it.

When’s the last time you said, or heard someone else say, “I am so-o-o-o busy!!!”? I’m guessing you say, or hear, it at least once a day. Do you know what others hear when you say that? They hear:

  • “I am busier than you are, and more important, too.” I know you probably didn’t intend to insult them, but you may just have done so inadvertently.
  • “I have not taken a moment to catch my breath and do any planning, so I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off.” Have you ever seen a chicken running around with its head cut off? I have. On a farm in Idaho as a kid. It’s not pretty. And why are you doing that? Do you feel guilty? Pressured? Unworthy of taking a little me-time? Need some help?
  • “I don’t want to do the thing you just asked me to do.” That’s fine, but you might want to learn to say no more gracefully.

What cracks me up is what often happens when someone inquires about my time management services. They are genuinely interested, indeed almost desperate for my help, and willing to pay my fee, too, but they are “too busy” just now to schedule the consultation that could give them immediate relief. Oh, the irony!

Some people resist time management, thinking it will just be more work for them to do. But time management is less about productivity and tying yourself to a strict schedule, and more about using your time more effectively, thereby freeing yourself up to live the life you really want.

In order to do this you must:

  • Identify your priorities and goals. (This takes a little quiet time and some focused thought.)
  • Choose activities that support those goals and priorities. (Don’t forget those important-but-not-urgent activities such as sleep, exercise, planning, study, projects, relaxing, hobbies, and self-care.)
  • Schedule time on your calendar for those activities. (I promise you will never magically “find” the time.)
  • Let go of activities that do not support your goals and priorities. (I call it To-Do List Clutter, and yes, of course there’s a flow chart for that!)

With your new ideal schedule in mind, it becomes much easier to say no when asked (or tempted) to do something random or undesirable. You can say you have an appointment (even if it’s with yourself), or that it’s not a priority for you right now.

Another thing I hear a lot is, “But I have no choice.” Yes, you do choose how you spend your time, even if what you are choosing is to run around like a chicken with your head cut off!

Try this: Even if you don’t change the things you do, say to yourself: “I am choosing to do this.” And then ask yourself why. You might have a good reason why, and it could be that an attitude shift is all you need to feel less stressed out. But your new attitude and realization might also lead to some changes.

What will it take to get you to slow down and take a deep breath?

Please share in the comments below!

Copyright 2013 – 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Moreen Torpy on April 14, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I read somewhere that it’s not time that we manage but ourselves. By scheduling in the important activities in life, that’s actually what we’re doing. But, calling it Time Management helps everyone understand what’s happening.

    Now, I must go and schedule some “me” time. 🙂

    • Hazel Thornton on April 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Yes, I suppose we could call it “Self-Management in Regards to How We Spend Our Time”, but that’s a mouthful!

  2. Theresa Bradford on June 10, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Look at the time management matrix . Try to schedule as many proactive tasks as you can and limit the ones that are reactive.Why? The proactive ones won’t go away, and because they are important if you don’t do them they will end up in ‘the crisis quadrant’.Please remember give yourself space in your schedule to deal with these unexpected crises.

    • Hazel Thornton on June 10, 2013 at 8:05 am

      Good advice, Theresa!

  3. Lisa Montanaro on October 11, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Hazel – Great minds DO think alike! I just blogged a lot this very issue. We are now trying to win the “crazy-busy” badge of honor. It’s like a contest to see who is busier. Not one l want to win!

    I love how you pointed out that we have a choice of what we spend time on. Most people feel “busy” when they feel a lack of control. Taking control of your to time management is empowering!

    Awesome post, thanks!

    • Hazel Thornton on October 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks Lisa, I enjoyed your similar post as well. I guess making choices is a theme for me (as I know it is for you, with your DECIDE formula). Here’s another one you might appreciate: Living and Working by Design, not by Default

  4. Seana Turner on October 23, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I love your point about choice. There are certainly times in our lives where we don’t have choice: medical emergencies, final exams, deadlines, etc. However, these shouldn’t be our “normal.” We can choose to do less, to pull our kids out of activities, to say no to a social engagement. I think it is fear of missing out or of somehow falling behind that drives us to sign up for more than we should. It is at least worth taking a hard look at our schedules and asking, “What could I change?” if life is perennially out of control.

  5. Sabrina Quairoli on October 23, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Great advice, Hazel.

    I agree, determining priorities are essential. I am not going to do something unless it gets me closer to my vision or goal. However, there’s something to say about just doing nothing and “relaxing” too. I find focusing is excellent, but it can be challenging to stay focused all the time so taking a break helps me see the big picture and determine if the goal needs adjusting.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 23, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Hi Sabrina! I completely agree with you that relaxing is crucial. And….if you are too busy to relax, you are too busy!

  6. Janet Barclay on October 23, 2017 at 11:05 am

    What you said, about people admitting they need help but are too busy to do anything about it, reminded me of my 1st job back in the 80s. Management arranged for time management training for all the supervisors, but one claimed he was too busy to attend. I wonder what he’s doing now…

    • Hazel Thornton on October 23, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      He’s probably crazy busy and annoying everyone around him!

  7. Janet Barclay on October 25, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Good one! I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out…

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