My Challenge for this Quarter: Addressing Busyness
My challenge for this quarter is to not add anything to my schedule. My hope is to address the issue of my Busyness head on. I made a committeemen to not add anything to my schedule for 3-4 months; Sept to the new year. I simplify things, and wanted to focus on being a mother to my daughter, to being a wife to my husband, and to finding myself. I am rolling my eyes at saying this, but it is true. When it comes down to it, these are the things that are important to me.
I would not: add any new classes, take any seminars, start any women’s groups, singing groups, develop new self defense workshops, take new courses, teach extra seminars, sell our services, go to networking events, or join any new groups. I would resist the opportunity to enrolling new classes, courses, or schools. I also vowed to not take on any additional paid work, over what I currently have. All these are things I really want to do.
A second part of this challenge was only doing what was necessary of the things already on my list. I would continue my blog (Whew! and Yay!). I would continue to teach martial arts, deferring the effort to my husband when it conflicts with my daughter’s or family’s needs, (like school activities). I would continue with my small Sunday yoga class, and continue with my Circle singing group. These are important things to me.
Wow! Just writing it, that sounds like a challenge.
Despite that fact that I cannot clearly define my super Busyness when asked, my schedule had reached, and surpassed, the catastrophic state. My husband was in a similar state. We are super busy. We even have to schedule our time to be together! It’s ridiculous how tightly packed our schedules are.
It wasn’t always this way: I can look back and think of times when I had time. Heck, I somehow managed to read! I managed to date. Except for Audible’s contribution in my ability to multitask, I have no idea how I would find the time to do either of those now! (I am glad to not have to date!)
A year ago, I ‘quit’ my job as a career. I was going to de-stress, and “catch up” with myself and my life. I worked less and spent the year having my stress hormones come down, having me come down. I no longer have to come home and lay on the bed for an hour in the darkness. I no longer take naps. I no longer have to take supplements to help me sleep. My body is better, healthier I am better – inside. I still earn an income in my ‘old’ profession, and my work is still important – to this household, to me, and to those I see. I admit I have gone through a bit of anguish about ‘who I am’ without such a strong attachment to my career, and ‘who I am’ bringing in less income, etc. It’s been good to work through these issues of who am I, if I don’t (fill in the blank).
After about six months, I worked on finding new income streams. This entailed starting a new business, and teaching yoga. These endeavors have not gone as expected. Like most things, they take longer than expected. I suspect neither is going to be my sole income stream, at this time. Yoga can be a hard ways of making a whole living, even a meager living. A New Business requires extraordinary amounts of effort and time. Both have resulted in even more Busyness.
Around the same time, I started trying to catch-up, getting the back log of things done. It’s been long enough now that I am starting to get these things done. I can even see light, the top of my inbox, though I suspect I will never get the in-box empty. Despite this, I was still profoundly busy. Every waking moment I seem to be working. So, getting through the inbox is not the path.
A few months ago, I started to realize I was no longer sure what I was accomplishing with most of my running around/busyness. Sure, I was clearing my inbox, and I wasn’t engendering tons of new stress, but I was still busy all the time and still feeling quite stressed by the busyness. I asked my self, ‘What the hell am I doing?’
After months of contemplation the issue, and a vacation where we actually relaxed, I realized that I spend 80% of my day doing inconsequential stuff. I enjoy “getting stuff done.” I enjoy the productivity of it. But much of it is not important stuff. Much of it is repetitive. These things may make life better, but are not essential, at least not for a while: I organize things. I create order. I return things, I acquire things, I comparison shop. I wash seemingly endless loads of dishes. It’s not like they bring in any money, either. They are Busy-Work. At the end of my life, no one is going to say how much I accomplished by doing just these little things! Even many things that bring in money or are exciting things are, at their core, not essential, like extra paid work. Nobody’s impressed….and they don’t fill me.
I find 20% of what I do fulfilling. I drive my child to/from school, talking with her each day. I teach her. I take her on adventures (yes, everyone likes that)! I write. I cook. I have conversations with my dear husband. We take long bath. We do shadow work. We do our martial arts training. These are simple things. Most bring in no significant money.
I do them because I value them. No one outside my close friends and family is likely to care or value them. I have been called a hobbyist in my profession, because some of this 20% are more important to me than my work life. I am know I am fortunate to be able to value them my own way. An I do value them. My family does. Perhaps my close friends and student do. It is most likely, at the end of my life, only this small circle of people will appreciate these things. They are Small Treasures of Value. Can that be enough for me? Can I accept that as my contribution, as “Enough?”
The concept seems foreign. In this day and age, it feels as if everyone is expected to become famous, notable, amazing. Living an ‘ordinary life’ is no longer enough. What would it be like, I asked, if I only did the things I loved and the things that really mattered? The idea gestated, growing, until I realized that Not Doing was exactly what I Needed to Do. That is how this Challenge arose.
Welcome to my version of Challenge: adding no new things, taking on no new work, only doing things that are valuable to me and mine. Let’s see how it goes!
by Tama Cathers
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