who are you busy for?

Everyone is busy.  (OK, almost everyone.)  But who are you busy for?  Changing how you think about what you’re doing can have a significant impact on your schedule.  If your schedule had less in it, wouldn’t you be happier?  Less stressed out?  More able to do things you want to do?

The most important word you need for this exercise is “no.”

We are constantly being asked to do things, whether by people who are close to us, people at work, or through the media.  We also hold up this image of what we’re “supposed to” be like/look like/act like and run ourselves ragged trying to make other people think that we’re like that.

Guess what.  They’re not like that, either.  But completely rejecting The Image is difficult to do, and you can’t do it all at once.

Let’s talk about two aspects of life that suck up a lot of time for a lot of people: phone and internet.

phone

For whose convenience is your phone?  Doesn’t matter if it’s a cell phone or a land line.  Do you pay for it so you can be at the beck-and-call of whomever knows the number?  I don’t.  My phone is for my convenience.  That means that when I don’t want to answer it, I don’t need to answer it.  I don’t owe an explanation as to why I didn’t answer it or where I was when it rang (or played an annoying song).  If a number comes up on the caller ID that I don’t know, I don’t answer it.  If they want to talk to me, they will leave a message.  (If they call repeatedly without leaving a message, I’ll answer it and tell them to stop calling me; it’s always telemarketers.)  If I am with other people, unless I’m expecting a call (which I would have alerted my company to when we first met up), I don’t answer it.  I have voicemail.

You don’t have to answer your phone.

“But what if it’s _____?”  If the blank is filled in with anything other than a dire emergency where two minutes are going to make a monumental difference in the outcome, then it’s not that important.  (“Friend, that was my kid calling.  Please excuse me while I check the message to make sure s/he’s OK.”)  And honestly, how many dire emergency phone calls have you received ever?  (And were you in a position to do anything about it?)

internet

We are more connected to people than ever before, and yet so many people feel disconnected.  Ironic?  You’ll feel more emotionally connected to people if you spend time with them in real life.  How often do you check your e-mail?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Whatever else you’re using?  If you’re like most of us, you spend way too much time and energy on these things.

I wrote about my own quest to reduce random internet time.  I’m still not where I’d like to be (and honestly, I’ve back slid a bit), but when I am mindful of it, I spend less time reading through crap that’s not important.  The less often I check my e-mail, the more likely I am to have a message or two that mean something when I do finally open my inbox.  Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Twitter.  I opened it for the business and use it for the business, but there are so many tweets and so many of them are not worth looking at.  I’ve found a few articles and blogs through Twitter that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have found, but I’ve reduced my Twitter time to almost zero.  (And I need to un-follow a few key people who tweet 20-30 times per hour.)

So ditch the ones you don’t like, keep the ones you like, and check them less frequently.  (This might also mean that you don’t actually “need” an iPhone or similar device, which will save you money in addition to time and stress…)

Two short anecdotal stories:

  1. My friend ditched Facebook because people stopped getting together with her in real life because they already knew what was going on with her.  I don’t know if it’s had that effect on people I know or not (it seems not), but she’s happier without it.
  2. Another friend cut internet from his house.  He went to the library (or wherever he checks e-mail now) after a couple of days and there were only two messages worth reading.  “Imagine how much time I’ve wasted checking my e-mail if there were only two messages there.  I used to check it multiple times per day.”

So what if it only gives you an extra 20 minutes or half hour each day?  Countless people have told me that they don’t have half an hour every day to go for a walk, or they don’t have time to cook dinner.  Maybe the half hour is on your computer…

    Being a fan of shorter rather than longer posts, I’ll write more about this tomorrow, dealing with other day-to-day stuff that sucks up your time and makes your life less than ideal.

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