on being 'busy'

Wednesday, August 8

Recently, I started slowwwwwly reading a book called, The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century which discusses social isolation and the effects of living in a culture that idealizes busyness and self-reliance. {Really fascinating read. I highly recommended it!} So far, the part that's resonated the most with me is the chapter on our obsession with busyness. As I was reading, it got me thinking about how often I reply with "busy" when Tyson asks me how my day was, or when my family asks how things have been lately. They've been good - but busy. I complain about being stressed, about having too much on my plate, about never QUITE reaching the end of my to-do list. But for some bizarre reason, there's a sort of pride in it too. Mentally checking the boxes on my list, rattling off which aspects of work, home and baby filled the hours of my day. It's like "busy" has become socially synonymous with "thriving" or "fulfilled" or "successful" even. When in actuality, it can feel awfully muddled and draining at the end of the day as you peer over into the next day of "busy".

Of course, busyness is an essential and inevitable part of making a living or raising a family. But it's the pace that I find the most challenging to manage. I find myself working in unhealthy bursts of on and off. An imbalance of a high-intensity push and a guilt-ridden calm. Sometimes even my favorite "calm" moments, like story time with my baby boy, have been tarnished by the back of my mind reminding me of other things that I need to "get done". "Getting things done" has become my accidental and uninspiring mantra for day-to-day living, covering up my underlying daily desire to feel connected to myself and my different roles {especially as a mother and a wife}, my family and friends, my community, and the life I want to live.

I don't want to use "busy" anymore, as a filler word or as a social status or whatever it is. So I've made three small goals to help me get rid of the "busy", slow down and refocus on the people I love and the kind of life I was trying to live in the first place.

1. Put down the emails and the phone after 6pm. Just put it away! Read a book, rock a baby, have a meal without distraction.
2. Be OK with untidiness. Become one with it ;) Most of the time it's going to happen and it's alright.
3. Take at least a half hour each day to focus on myself spiritually and physically.

146 Response to on being 'busy'

August 08, 2012 12:37 AM

Wow, this is so similar to the blog post I wrote for work last week! It's a very common affliction, and I'm based in Australia not the US. I'm just as bad though and have decided that instead of saying busy when people ask how I've been, I'm going to say happy or excited- I think that would set a lovely tone for the conversation. Good luck x

August 08, 2012 12:38 AM

implementing no emails and phone after 6pm sounds glorious.

i'm trying to come up with a game plan to sort out my days and have more "husband and me time," I know it's absolutely necessary to do so


August 08, 2012 12:38 AM

I love the "high-intensity push & guilt-ridden calm" bit, story of my life! Balance is always so hard, but don't those two balance each other out? ;)

August 08, 2012 12:40 AM

This is beautiful Sydney. As a mother of a 16 month old precious boy, and a stay at home mom trying to be a super hero and manage mommy-hood and a house can seem like such busy work at times you forget to stop and enjoy what you're living, which is LIFE. I agree with your three goals. This is also something I am currently trying to work on. PS. Your boy is simply darling. :)
~Yesenia @ {then there was us}

August 08, 2012 12:43 AM

damn. i gotta read this book. GO GIRL.

August 08, 2012 12:44 AM

So I just hopped on over to another blog and read this quote..

this book called "Bittersweet" by Shauna Niequist said that it's not hard to figure out what you want your life to be about. it's figuring out what you're willing to give up in order to have that life.

thought it went along nicely with your post :)

August 08, 2012 12:47 AM

I LOVE this.. I always have my to- do list in the back of my head. I need to take on those goals too


August 08, 2012 12:49 AM

I agree! I work full time, so I'm on the computer an awful lot, but I don't blog or answer emails on the weekends, and I try to stay away from the internet in general on Sundays. It gives me peace of mind. :)

For me though, I NEED to be busy. I think there is something to be said about the fact that busy is a filler word and synonymous with success, but it is something I literally need. If my life is not full with things I need and want to do, I become lethargic and then subsequently depressed. Balance in all things, I suppose. Then again I don't have a child and a blog to manage that must sink a lot of my hours. For me, blogging is a release. I can't speak for you, but I can imagine how stressful I would be if I started having paid sponsors. "Are they getting enough clicks?" Ahh! It would give me severe anxiety. :) I also don't have a husband that works full time and is (will be?) going to grad school. You have a full plate and I wish the very best for you! Good luck with your new goals!

August 08, 2012 12:56 AM

awesome goals. it is SOOOO hard to do. but utterly important. i need to evaluate how my busy time is spent as well!

August 08, 2012 12:59 AM

Wow Syd I love this. You are so right. As i was reading this i kept thinking, wow that's what i do.
I'm so happy to hear you are aiming for slowing down and enjoying life more - i think that's such an awesome goal that more of us should have.
Hugs honey.

August 08, 2012 1:12 AM

wooww.. I wanna read book asap.. I hope I will find print of it in Turkish. If I don't I will read it in English. Thank you...

Have a nice day..


August 08, 2012 1:24 AM

That book sounds really interesting; I remember reading about this effect in my undergrad psych classes! I just read a book called The Way of the Happy Woman which has inspired me to try out the same kinds of goals. Recently I've blogged a few times about how we use our iphones, and it's been so interesting to hear everyone's thoughts! I'm trying to spend at least an hour technology free in the morning to just be quiet. I also find that as a yoga teacher, I'm busy but not overly so. And it's nice. x

August 08, 2012 1:41 AM

Have you read the NY Times article called The 'Busy' Trap?
It's quite interesting and supports what you are saying. I think you will enjoy it.

August 08, 2012 2:25 AM

This is a fantastic post!

While I agree with all of it, the part that most inspires me is your goals at the end. The idea of personal life mantras and undertakings is something that I have found so grounding. What's more, I think that in setting these out for yourself, you've actually already begun number 3 on your list. That's so wonderful!

I also wanted to compliment you on how beautifully written this is. You're an incredibly talented writer and your blog showcases that in such a pleasurable way.

Have a magical week xx

August 08, 2012 3:26 AM

It's so true, I am constantly saying how busy I am and some days I am not that busy, but I will still respond in the same way out of habit. I guess we all have to work on scheduling down time, you're not alone. -Heidi http://fabricandfrosting.blogspot.no/

August 08, 2012 3:59 AM

awesome, thank you, I'm going to try to find this book now!

August 08, 2012 4:09 AM

This post is genius. I completely agree that we idolise busy-ness and that I use the word to describe my life WAY too much!

I like to be active and have lots of plans and activities... but why does that need to go hand-in-hand with the tired & frazzled connotations of 'busy'? It doesn't!

Your three small goals are fantastic. I am going to come up with some for myself... when I next get a moment. ;p

August 08, 2012 4:50 AM

I feel so convicted by this! Every few months or so I try to start cutting the "noise" out of my life. I think it's time to do so again.

August 08, 2012 4:56 AM

I love this! I read an article on this same subject a few weeks ago that got me thinking, and I'm definitely going to check out this book too. I had never realized it before, but we really do seem to enjoy saying that we're busy (even if we don't actually enjoy having a never-ending to-do list constantly).

I've thought a lot about how to switch things up, and I love your suggestions. For me, I'm also trying to focus on the present moment (which I've realized is harder than you'd think!) and enjoy the process of whatever I'm doing in the moment, rather than plan a few steps ahead in my mind - I think that gives a sense of urgency and busyness, even if we aren't really that busy to begin with.

Happy Wednesday! :)

August 08, 2012 5:12 AM

I'll have to put that book on my wish list. I resonate so much, here. Constantly my husband reminds me that I don't HAVE to do anything except care for our baby boy, Archer, and make sure our home/finances aren't falling apart. Everything else is extra.

August 08, 2012 5:39 AM

Love this. Busyness is definitely a part of life these days it seems. I'm a full-time uni student with a couple of jobs, so my kind of 'busy' is obviously different from yours, but leaves the same feelings of guilt/achievement, frantic activity/exhausted inertia. But my boyfriend and I have just made a pact to stop complaining about not having enough 'time' and being too 'busy' - you've got to embrace and appreciate the choices you make I guess! :)

Life etc

August 08, 2012 5:52 AM

These are things I believe a new mother goes through. I felt the same way and have learned to let go of the worrying about the mess and embrace the time with my little ones. Also, I agree I gave up using "busy" a few years ago when it started to feel rude to say to people or to hear from others. " I've just been so busy" translated to I don't know how to make time for you. Plus, like you said its a filler word for people who can't think of something better to say. Maybe more people should consider thinking about these things and taking action...what a thoughtful everyday society we would have. Good Post!!

August 08, 2012 6:02 AM

I have been coming to the same conclusions this year! I would love to read this book. Its easy for me to fall into late night working due to my having to work from home, but I crave quiet and calm moments with my family. Recently wrote some posts on this, and Madeline of Uber Chic for Cheap shared this awesome quote with us:

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials."

Thanks for the inspiration friend!

August 08, 2012 6:06 AM

i really need to let go of the mess--i am six months pregnant and cannot keep on top of everything like i used to and i have to accept it.

Instead of spending time in the evenings tidying i should spend the time with my husband, it is not like it will be the two of us for much longer :)

August 08, 2012 6:19 AM

I love this! Great advice.

August 08, 2012 6:27 AM

Such a great post! Very inspiring. Good luck with cutting out the "busy."


August 08, 2012 6:33 AM

great post, thanks for sharing!


August 08, 2012 6:39 AM

I can completely resonate with this post and I'm so glad you wrote it. It seems to have perfect timing for my life right now as other people seem to be telling me I'm not busy enough. If I don't have a perfectly tidy house or missed one task I must have been lazy or didn't do anything all day. When in reality I did a lot and some of it was abstract. And even if I did enjoy a calm moment of peace and reflection...why is that considered wrong?

August 08, 2012 6:42 AM

Amen. This is great.

August 08, 2012 6:49 AM

great post--i really appreciate these type of posts when you do them! sometimes life is hard or "busy", and it's nice to get honest posts like these!

definitely going to take a look at this book!

alissa b

August 08, 2012 6:58 AM

super heavenly post- a thought i think i always have but have never been able to put into action. i'm going to try your 3 rules!

August 08, 2012 6:59 AM



August 08, 2012 7:06 AM

Great post. Thought you'd like this read:

August 08, 2012 7:15 AM

this is such an inspiring post and it describes my life exactly! i am always so BUSY with work and blogging and baby stuff... i just need to sit back and enjoy life once in awhile!!

Sandy a la Mode

August 08, 2012 7:22 AM

this is something I think about 24/7! Def going to read the book. Great goals!

August 08, 2012 7:24 AM

I need this. Thank you! ♥

August 08, 2012 7:26 AM

I needed this post today BAD! Thanks for sharing:).

August 08, 2012 7:43 AM

I love your baby
is so adorable
you doing a perfect family. Step by here often and is the first time you write
A greeting from Spain-

August 08, 2012 7:54 AM

I think this idea is wonderful. It's hard to not use "busy" as a crutch. Thanks for sharing!

August 08, 2012 7:54 AM

I totally agree with this. I too have written about it on my blog and plan to write about it again. I also think that our words shape our own reality so if we describe ourselves as busy and stressed, we will be.

August 08, 2012 8:02 AM

Awesome post, and great perspective! I think I need to work harder to refocus as well :)


August 08, 2012 8:06 AM

Love these suggestions!! Need to do this myself!

August 08, 2012 8:07 AM

Great post!

There was a recent article in the NYT on a similar topic of how we have found ourselves in the "busy" trap. I think we sometimes default to "busyness" to feel value in what we do because we live in a culture in which our productivity is linked to our self-worth.

August 08, 2012 8:16 AM

I love your goals. I started doing just that last year when I decided to slow down on the sewing/crafting/blogging at night and just "hanging out" with my family. My site hasn't had many new entires for awhile, my traffic has slowed down (didn't really have much to begin with anyways) but thats ok. Being a mommy and wife is by far funner and way more

August 08, 2012 8:19 AM

ohhh WOW! You speak for so many of us and with added personality of a perfectionist, I cannot help myself but 'do things'. Every day is valued by how busy it was and what was done... I applaud you for trying to refocus and gain control over busy.

August 08, 2012 8:30 AM

I love this and I'm going through the same thing with a toddler and a baby due in the next few weeks.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Well said.

T xx

November Grey

August 08, 2012 8:31 AM

This is so great! I'm working full time, planning a wedding that's coming up in less than two months (eek), and I'm finding myself feeling overly busy, but not particularly overly fulfilled.

We've taken to having 'family' night on Sundays where our friends with kids come over and we cook them dinner and just play and hang out. We don't want to miss anything because we're too busy to get together, so scheduling it ensures we'll have time.

Even though we could be playing catch up, taking time just for yourself (an hour of yoga, lunch with a girlfriend, church) can completely rejuvenate you and make you that much more productive because of it! Great post!


August 08, 2012 8:40 AM

Those are things we all need to do, but we just get wrapped up in life. Loved this post!

xo Hailey


August 08, 2012 8:45 AM

so true and a great reminder to slow down. it reminded me of this fantastic talk by elder uchtdorf from general conference a couple of years ago. http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/of-things-that-matter-most?lang=eng

August 08, 2012 8:45 AM

This post resonated with me so much. I have been thinking along these lines the past few months, and I'm definitely going to check out the book. I keep thinking my "busy" life will calm down and I will "catch up" at some point, but I recently realized it has been years since I felt like I was anything other than overwhelmed with busy-ness. I think that in itself made me realize how out of touch I am with myself in too many ways. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, and I'm looking forward to picking up the book!

August 08, 2012 8:48 AM

these are perfect goals! thanks for the morning inspiration! :)

August 08, 2012 8:50 AM

Love this! Multitasking is my enemy right now. I feel like it's such a catch-22: you want to get things done and live in and enjoy the little moments. It's a struggle to strike a balance.

August 08, 2012 8:51 AM

I am still in college and this feeling of being HAPPY when making things off my list is one reason I love when school starts. Don't get me wrong I love summer but the weather and being busy is amazing to me..Thanks for your post making me realize I am not crazy haha

August 08, 2012 8:55 AM

I agree soo much. My husband and I have a bit of a crazy summer and so we finally got to take a vacation. I decided not to do email or blogging the entire time. it was Wonderful. BUT then mid way through our vacation I got a call that the business I worked for decided to sell...and sell fast!!! In fact I wouldn't have a job by the end of my vacation. I got home and suddenly my schedule is halved - it's been an interesting week of just realizing that busyness and having a million things on my to-do list (like I see most bloggers do) doesn't define who I am. So I TOO am learning to thrive in other areas like blessing people, taking time to pray more and read more..etc. And of course I still will be looking for a new job in the midst of it all. Thanks for your post - it's very encouraging and affirming!

August 08, 2012 8:59 AM

The book sounds a little similar to a recent Op-Ed piece in the NYT: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/

A funny, yet true, read that probably resonates with a lot of people these days!

August 08, 2012 8:59 AM

I can so relate to this! thanks for the inspiration. Time to re-prioritize and set some new ground rules!

August 08, 2012 9:01 AM

My husband and I have been talking about this a lot in the past year. We rarely have the same days off (he works retail, I work in an office), and we realized that we both felt really guilty if we relaxed much on our days off. We felt like we should always be running errands, cleaning the house, working in the garden or SOMETHING. The fact of the matter was, we both wanted the other person to relax. We never got upset if the other took a day off to chill. So now we try to make it a point to spend at least one of our days off mainly just relaxing. I take naps on Saturdays now without feeling guilty. He's been laying around watching the Olympics. You know what? STuff still runs just fine. Our house is still clean, we still have groceries, and we're both happier.

August 08, 2012 9:01 AM

beautifully written! Definitely something I need to think about more often :)


August 08, 2012 9:03 AM

I've got to read this book ASAP. Where to grab a copy? It looks interesting. Natural Remedies for Allergies

August 08, 2012 9:11 AM

I just wanted to thank you for posting weeks ago about reading Buddhism for Mothers. I was in a pretty pathetic state at that time, considered it a sign, and purchased on Amazon immediately. It has been life changing, thus far. Seriously. Thank you thank you, again!! This is why I LOVE the world of blogs!


August 08, 2012 9:12 AM

Thank you for this. As a new mom getting ready to go back to work this is exactly what I needed to be reminded of.

August 08, 2012 9:13 AM

This is the greatest thing I've heard in a long time.
So very true.

August 08, 2012 9:21 AM

I know a lot of us love to read your blog for your fantastic style and pictures, but you just proved once again that you are a fantastic writer! I absolutely loved reading this because I myself say "busy" when responding to peoples' questions regarding my days.

Great reminder post


August 08, 2012 9:36 AM

This is an awesome post. I am sure just keeping up on your inbox alone takes like 5 hours a day, let alone all of your other things going on with your blog! It's a double-edged sword, huh?

Thanks for reminding me to take time out for the small and simple joys in life :)

August 08, 2012 9:38 AM

Outstanding insight. Thank you for sharing. I feel as if it is ingrained in our culture to keep "busy," otherwise you are seen as lazy or unmotivated. I think I'll start saying I'm motivated to keep myself happy, and that means lowering my busy levels!

August 08, 2012 9:38 AM

For some reason, my previous attempt to post a comment was unsuccessful. GREAT post! Thanks for the food for thought. I agree. Also, this reminds me of Pres. Uchtdorf's message from the Ensign last month about always considering ourselves as in the middle so we live more meaningfully.

August 08, 2012 9:39 AM

I connect so much with this on so many levels. We are always so busy but are we always doing what we love? How am I valuing my little girl when an email to whoever is more important than spending a few minutes with her, especially since I don't see her all day?

August 08, 2012 9:39 AM

Just in case you want to look up what I'm talking about: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/07/always-in-the-middle?lang=eng

August 08, 2012 9:42 AM

I have been having conversations about this very thing a lot lately. Something that really gets me at work is that if anyone takes their full 1 hour unpaid lunch break then they are viewed as a "slacker". We NEED that time to break away from 8 hours on the computer and step away from the busyness. In other countries everyone takes two hour lunch breaks to eat and nap. Thanks for the book rec! I'm going to pick it up :)

August 08, 2012 9:58 AM

Great post! I recently promised myself the same thing. It is important to slow down and enjoy life!

August 08, 2012 9:58 AM

I'd love to try to adopt that rule of putting away the computer after 6pm to focus on quiet time with the husband or family or friends. I shall attempt to start next week (when I'm not so... busy). Doh.

♥ ThankFifi

August 08, 2012 10:01 AM

great post. love it.

August 08, 2012 10:03 AM

I recently wrote a post similar to this too. Maybe we're all feeling "busy/guilty/not guilty/calm/imbalanced" about keeping priorities in line. Anyways, I wanted to recommend a book to you and everyone! "The Culture Code" by Clotaire Rapaille. It's amazing and explains how culture vs. others. But the reason we have a "pride" about being so so busy is b/c our culture (america) holds it in such high regard. And if we're NOT moving, we're "dead." It's a great great book...lots to be learned and realized. I feel calmer about life after each chapter.

August 08, 2012 10:03 AM

Unfortunately, i think this is a very common 'problem' that you are facing, and it is sad that happy calm moments are muddled with guilt and thoughts of what's next. I too am constantly working off a list and feeling guilty for what i did not get done, especially when it comes to my loved ones. I often fantasize about living somewhere in the country or the woods, where there is no hussle and bussle, but then i wonder if i would slow down, or just find a different version of 'busy'?

August 08, 2012 10:05 AM

I read an article in the NY Times recently that talks about this same subject - how "busy" has become a sort of crutch for not fully experiencing life. You might like it: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/

August 08, 2012 10:19 AM

This is fantastic. I really hope to incorporate some of your goal in my daily living as well. Busy is such a terrible word because it encompasses a plethora of activities, but none of which we take the time to explain and delve into how they make our life more fulfilling or not fulfilling at all. Some peace and quiet to reflect each day is a great idea.

August 08, 2012 10:21 AM

wow, i really liked this post. I've been feeling like a failure lately bc i'm either "too busy" or "not busy enough". it just made me think. i really like your goals too. thanks for sharing!

August 08, 2012 10:26 AM

This is just perfect timing. I think everyone can relate to this in some way. You are so right on, it's almost like "busy" makes us feel like we are achieving something. We thrive for busy for some reason and most of us probably create the things to do. We all need to slow it down and implement little house rules, things to make us stop and enjoy the time. I love the idea of simply replacing that word and spreading the positivity.

August 08, 2012 10:31 AM

Such insight from you here, Sydney! Thank you for the reminder.

August 08, 2012 10:37 AM


best piece I've ever read- talks about EXACTLY what you are expressing. I will have to go out and purchase that book

August 08, 2012 10:40 AM

I just taught a lesson about this very thing last Sunday!
Dieter F. Uchtdorf said this:
"Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.
...we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most."

August 08, 2012 10:40 AM

Ok, I should have scrolled through your posts first- apprently people have already sent that nytimes piece to you. Sorry!

August 08, 2012 10:43 AM

For most of my life, I have been a very busy-oriented person. When I was still in college, I always took at least 18 credits (one semester I even took 21) and worked 2-3 jobs. I was constantly going, going, going all the time, and it seemed like there would be no end in sight.

However, our Heavenly Father often blesses us with the necessary trials we need to teach us the lessons we most need to learn. The trial that we were sent was the unexpected passing away of my 3-year-old nephew. When I heard of my nephew's death, it was a huge wake-up call. I could see very clearly that in those days immediately following his death, I did not focus on my schoolwork or on my jobs or on how much I was getting done. I instead focused on truly enjoying each day to the fullest because I knew from personal experience that you never know what may happen next.

Thank you so much for your thoughts. I'll have to check out that book soon.


August 08, 2012 10:47 AM

Beautifully said. I couldn't agree more. I feel like I'm often in a very similar state of mind. I love your idea of 3 small goals. I am going to write some down for myself today. Already I feel more hopeful that 'busy' doesn't need to define my life, who I am, and who I really want to be. Thanks for the lovely post today Sydney. TOTALLY needed this :)

August 08, 2012 10:57 AM

This , unfortunately, seems like my most common response also when people ask how life is. I really like the 3 goals you have set. Especially spending daily time to spiritually build yourself up. Great post topic!

August 08, 2012 11:06 AM

So very true. Someone commented the other day that I "thrive on being busy". I actually hated that and think your personal goals are pretty great!

August 08, 2012 11:12 AM

my favorite: be one with the untidiness! sometimes, you just gotta be ok with it. :)

ashlee @ somethingus.blogspot.com

August 08, 2012 11:15 AM

Such a great post! You should also read http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/!

August 08, 2012 11:22 AM

Agreed! I know many people have posted this NYT op/ed, but here it is again: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/

My oldest sister sent it to me in response to our other sister's chapel message a few weeks ago. She discussed the importance of "Rest." God made the universe in six days, then took a day of rest. Sunday is our accepted day of rest. Shouldn't we take the time each year for a special rest? Some call it vacation, some call it a sabbatical, but we all understand the importance of fitting it into our lives.

I think this goes hand-in-hand with our busyness problem. I just had a nice relaxing lunch break with my husband, but instead of enjoying the casual conversation, I brought along a notebook and pen so we could map out the next few weeks' worth of childcare, trips, and purchases. Whew!

I like your plans for taking rest in your busy life and hope I can model that behavior, too!

August 08, 2012 11:41 AM

Ohh I totally want to read that book!
I have a friend who is constantly telling me how "busy" her life is to the point I feel like she's bragging and putting down me because I choose to prioritize and let things go so I can enjoy my life with my husband and kids. (though I am human and do find myself wishing for more hours in the day from time to time) Everyone has a busy life but how are we spending our busy life? Stressed, overwhelmed, trying so hard to be perfect? Or are we enjoying and embracing the busy-ness?

August 08, 2012 12:01 PM

I can totally relate to this post! Thanks for inspiring me to start relfecting and thinking of ways to get the "busy" out of my life.

August 08, 2012 12:11 PM

It is great that you can recognize your need for change early on, instead of when you have blown by many years of your life and Everette's childhood. Sometimes we all need to step back to see if the life we are living is being lived in the way we want it to be. Good for you! Definitely take some time for yourself each day!



August 08, 2012 12:21 PM

Those are great goals. I should do the same.

August 08, 2012 12:28 PM

I struggle with this, too! I love your goals. I might have to adopt some of them myself!

August 08, 2012 12:28 PM

I struggle with this, too! I love your goals. I might have to adopt some of them myself!

August 08, 2012 12:59 PM

I totally agree with you. I think far too often we forget to stop and "smell the roses" and assess our lives. We're much too critical on ourselves and need to slow down. Of course, I'm no straight-A student in that department but I'm learning to live with some disorder and that it's okay not to have everything perfect or just like so. It's something I always have to remind myself but gradually things have changed. :) xo sista

August 08, 2012 1:26 PM

i really love this. i think when having little ones it makes us realize the importance of the little things that take a little time. when i just had my first (i feel so old saying that for some reason) i felt so guilty day in and day out on ways to interact with her. guilty every time i put her down. the good news is once you have two a lot more stress comes-but the baby has an older sibling to tug them along and play with.

what a great post-makes me stay "busy" but remember whats really important.

you seem wonderful-love that ive added this to my daily rotation.

August 08, 2012 1:46 PM

Love love love the idea. I know I've had this conversation with others before...why is it that we always feel the need to respond "busy" when people ask as how we are? I even did that earlier today! We need a new standard response - or, better yet, a lack of a standard response.

August 08, 2012 1:56 PM

Totally agree with you! I think everyone should have small goeals like that. Taking about busyness, it also seems to me that nowadays people are more than ever afraid to be alone or lonely ...thats why maybe the prefer to be "busy" rather than just LIVE and BE with themselves, go with their own pace...I see this in the daily, simple things too...I spent a lot of time on the train, riding to and from work, there are people who can not just sit on their seats and "ride the train" you know or just do...nothing (!?) they HAVE to talk on the mobile or write messages or E-Mails or post on Facebook.....always looking at the screen or clicking on buttons...it is kind of sad in a way, really...

August 08, 2012 2:11 PM

Busy stress is my middle name... but I think I've become addicted with both of them... Thank you for the advise, I will try to take it into consideration.


August 08, 2012 3:21 PM

Totally relating to this right now.. it's like "busy" is the go-to answer for everything.. but we're ALL busy. It's not unique and it really tells a person anything about how you are, where you're at, etc. It's like a "fine" response.
Love your 3 new goals! Good luck!

August 08, 2012 3:26 PM

Great goals. I struggle with this too sometimes!


August 08, 2012 3:38 PM

I love this. I first felt this push to be "busy" when I got my first job. It's funny, when we aren't really even busy, we make it sound like we are, because that seems important to people.


August 08, 2012 3:50 PM

This was a great post, Syd. Something I needed to read. I appreciate your honesty. And I think I'll take you up on your goals.

August 08, 2012 4:13 PM

This is actually really true...I also always reply with "busy" and feel like I never have a quiet moment just with myself...going to try and not stress so much about the small stuff!!!


August 08, 2012 4:23 PM

I've never really thought about it like that. Really gets ya thinking.


August 08, 2012 4:39 PM

Oh man, this really resonated with me... and so timely! Thank you for your insights, oh wise momma/wife/woman/human being.

August 08, 2012 5:58 PM

This is fantastic!! I want to start implementing these pointers. Thanks, Sydney! x

August 08, 2012 6:23 PM

I’ve noticed too, how much I tell people how busy I am. I don’t know if it’s habit, or if I secretly enjoy sounding busy. Either way, you are completely right, it’s time to put things down and pay attention to life. I’ll have to check out that book too. Thanks for sharing!

August 08, 2012 6:23 PM

Sounds like a great read. May have to go pick that one up :) I like your 3 new rules! xxx

August 08, 2012 6:26 PM

I too am having this feeling. My son is 9.5 months old and I am a stay-at-home mom while my husband is a busy soldier in Upstate New York. His day is full of a long list of to-do's followed by schoolwork (he is finishing his degree). His plate is full and just makes mine fuller it seems. I too have a hard time with untidiness. I make it a goal to clean up after the toys each time I put Wes (our little one) down for a mid-day nap. To fold all the laundry and get it put away by the end of the day. This past week I even started to try and make the bed each day. These small and pointless tasks make me feel like if I don't do these things my job is not being done well. That if I were being paid for these services I'd be fired. This week I needed some perspective and totally relate to this blog entry. You sort of took the words right out of my mouth! You've inspired me to make a small to-do list like this one. I have been considering putting the phone away, as well and as soon as my husband comes home at the end of the day, that's exactly what I'll do!

August 08, 2012 6:26 PM

I've been reading your blog for a couple years now. Obviously, I love the standard outfit posts (which first got me reading) and the awkward and awesome Thursdays are alllways entertaining and giggle-inducing.

But, as a recent graduate, something I've come to love about your blog is seeing how your posts have evolved as you greet new challenges in your life (and I imagine some of these challenges seem far more profound and gratifying that college exams ever did). Anyways, while I'm sure our post-grad lives will take vastly different paths, it's so inspiring to see someone like you, close to my age, negotiating your 20s with so much enthusiasm, grace, and, really, insightfulness. Good luck with your three steps away from "busyness"! I might have to start a few of my own! :)

August 08, 2012 6:43 PM

I would also like to try this out. I think my busy mentality started out of necessity in college and just continued on. I feel like part of it is that I never want to fall behind. I always want to be that hopeful, optimistic person I was when I graduated. Like maybe I am afraid if I'm not busy my life will end or something. But now that I am out of college, there are just other things to focus on like family.

August 08, 2012 6:43 PM

You should read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Also an extremely fascinating read and quite inspiring.


August 08, 2012 7:31 PM

Back in college, I attended a chapel speech in which the speaker talked about practicing solitude, keeping silent for 1 hour per day. I did it when feeling "busy". Probably one of the best thing I learned from college.

August 08, 2012 10:12 PM

Absolutely something we all need to consider! I've also found that taking a few minutes each day to just think about all the things that I'm grateful for and that make me happy can really change my mood/day/outlook for the better. Great post!

August 08, 2012 11:00 PM

Thanks for making me think about 'busyness'. You're absolutely right, busy has become to be synonym for 'successful'. It's rather sad that we turn into these hamsters in wheels. Let's read more books, light a candle and lean back after let's say 8pm ;) hehe


August 09, 2012 3:38 AM

Beautiful blog

Saludos desde Andalucia


August 09, 2012 7:00 AM

What good goals! I feel like taking time to work on yourself spiritually and physically is necissary, but it's often the first thing to go when we're 'busy'.

Thanks for inspiring me to take some time for myself too ;)


August 09, 2012 7:09 AM

totally love this post! and i think it sums up some of the problems america has (working so hard, but spending little time w/family....filling the void in our hearts w/stuff and busyness rather than God, etc.). not that you are doing that, but we are all guilty of it in some sense. if you like that book, you should try this one- totally changed my view on how i want to raise my girls. and it comes from a Christian perspective, which i think you'd like too! :)


August 09, 2012 8:05 AM

I could use a little of this in my own life! But I'm not sure I could keep up with everything haha... I always find myself working until 8, 9, sometimes 10... then back up and at it at 6. You are so right though. I touched on this topic a little in relation to Anne Marie Slaughter's article for the Atlantic... I think the problem isn't so much that women have a hard time finding balance, it is that we *all* live in a culture of "work" - it's hard for anyone to find balance.

I'll have to check out that book. :)

August 09, 2012 8:06 AM

I loved this! And really related with using "busy" as an answer to "how have you been" type questions. After reading your alternatives "fulfilled", "energized", it reminded me that I am those things and do feel those things and need to embrace. I am going to replace "busy"! Great post and great goals....I need to focus on #3 too!

August 09, 2012 9:14 AM

Great post! I totally agree with you!


August 09, 2012 9:21 AM

This has been my favorite post of yours thus far. Not only are you poking at a sore spot we all wish we could deny but know we possess but you're getting real with your readers in way that acknowledges that even you, talented, successful, and idol to all; even you can take it slow and soak some moments in a little longer. I'm completely guilty of throwing down the "busy" card so people think I'm important and valued in life but don' realize that it can also make me somewhat unapproachable to people who might need me or those who just want to spend time with me. I do though love your plans of attack.. so here's to saying "no", reading books past the introduction and taking at least 7 minutes to attractively eat through that bowl of ice cream, spoon by spoon and possibly even licking the bowl dry for a finale.

Take luck!

August 09, 2012 10:14 AM

such a great idea bout putting down emails & phone after 6pm...LOVE it. Smiles!!

August 09, 2012 11:11 AM

Sydney, I don't comment too often, but I wanted you to know I think you're such a talented writer. The whole busyness topic seems to be floating pretty heavily around the blogosphere, but I think your take and perspective on it is so smart and fresh. I loved reading this post (and all your posts). Thank you! xx

August 09, 2012 2:51 PM

I have always thought of "busy" as a state of mind. If you let it, it will completely overwhelm you.

August 09, 2012 2:58 PM

I once heard someone use the acronym for busy as (Busy Under Satan Yoke). I have made it a goal in life to seek after becoming productive and proactive and remember life is short not to do the small things in life that truly matter. Great goals and another awesome reminder.

August 09, 2012 2:58 PM

I can completely understand where you are coming from, I always seem to be living in that 'busy' state at the moment!

Your goals sound like a good idea, it would be lovely to have those moments to just enjoy the simple, slow pace that life can sometimes have! I might aim for this myself!

August 09, 2012 6:49 PM

Being 19 I have only just started to even remotely grasp the concept of true busyness, and I dare say I'd rather it stay that way! It definitely seems that way though, that as the world keeps on turning the 'busier' people are the more enriched they supposedly are. What's wrong with taking a day to just be and to enjoy family and friends though really? Why do we seem to always put that busy business first?!
I also must say, as a newcomer to your blog, your little boy is absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful babies such as him on lovely blogs like this make me so excited for when the time in my life comes when I'll be blessed with a little one. You're more than just a little inspiring... Just saying!
HT x

August 10, 2012 6:50 AM

This is such an encouragement to me. I fill my days with busy-ness and my children (and husband) are watching me. I want to be more intentional when I am with them. There are many distractions that are truly not that important. Your 3 step plan is a great idea!

August 10, 2012 7:44 AM

this post really hit close to home.. as a new momma and first month back to work as a nicu nurse.. i'm really struggling with 'busyness'.. i know part of it is what i do for a living, but then i'm finding on my days off i'm so exhausted i'm having trouble making it all work. will have to pick up this read tonight for sure and make a list to quite the 'busyness' for me today :) thanks so much xo!

August 10, 2012 12:52 PM

That's so true!!!!!! I've had the summer off and I'm going crazy! I think back to the end of last semester and all I wanted to do was tan and read a book. Well I've done that and now I want to get back to work.

August 10, 2012 1:04 PM

so i read this post when you first wrote it and have caught myself answering "busy" every time i've been asked how i am ever since. thanks for making me think intentionally about this word's role in my life—it's far more present than i ever knew, and i am not too proud. something to work on and progress in :)

August 10, 2012 1:19 PM

This is fantastic. Thank you so much for posting this. Definitely going to look into that book!

August 10, 2012 5:28 PM

Your post reminded me so much of this New York Times article from a couple of weeks ago - http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?smid=FB-nytimes&WT.mc_id=OP-E-FB-SM-LIN-TBT-070112-NYT-NA&WT.mc_ev=click

It's amazing all the life that happens when you put busy aside :)

August 10, 2012 10:58 PM

Couldn't agree more =) Husband and I were JUST talking about this!

August 11, 2012 12:26 PM

I've been having the exact same problems (for ages) and same realizations (recently). I need to DO less--I do value my days based on how much I got done, and of course there's a never-ending to-do list! So I'm still learning to be okay with not doing everything, and hoping things quiet down after the summer... or after... sometime... it never ends, does it?!?

Sounds like a good book, though, thanks for the rec!

August 12, 2012 10:53 AM

Being 'busy' is something I've thought about a lot and your goals are really good! I too feel guilty in my down time because I should be doing something, even if there's nothing to do. It's this kind of mentality that we all need to change!


August 14, 2012 9:20 AM

This was so well said. I'll have to read the book! Thanks!

August 14, 2012 5:31 PM

I would love to read this book! I struggle with the whole "busy" thing too. I even find when I'm not busy I feel guilty! Crazy. What a good reminder to enjoy every moment and be content in life.


August 15, 2012 11:21 AM

" "Getting things done" has become my accidental and uninspiring mantra for day-to-day living, covering up my underlying daily desire to feel connected to myself and my different roles {especially as a mother and a wife}, my family and friends, my community, and the life I want to live."

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I want to change. I have to change.


August 15, 2012 5:50 PM

This inspires me. Why do I feel important when I'm busy and worthless when I have nothing on the agenda for the day. Especially being a stay at home Momma..it's easy and appealing to fill up my day, minute to minute.

Love your idea of electronics off after 6pm. Going to steal it.


August 16, 2012 10:45 PM

Those are great goals, I've actually been incorporating the same ones. Also I love and thank you for being so transparent as a lot of popular bloggers seem to put on a perfect façade.

Something that helps me when feeling overwhelmed from managing two businesses is to only focus on 3 things a day. Sounds crazy but if you only focus on the top 3 priorities it really truly makes a difference!

August 18, 2012 4:10 AM

Sounds like a book I could read right about now. I am transitioning from working full time out of the house to part time within with my 4 year old. It's hard to not feel productive when I'm so used to juggling millions of tasks daily and now I juggle maybe 5?

August 18, 2012 8:15 AM

I had to go on a "high performance teams" retreat with a group from work last year that truly changed my life, and is very much related to your post. We each had to go in with one goal we were trying to reach - mine was balance. The retreat moderator, a lovely woman, gave me sage advice. She said something along the lines of, "You can't fight for balance. That's an oxymoron. Balance is a decision. It's your choice. You can choose to be present in every moment. That is the beauty of it...you can have balance this second if you chose it." Those words have changed the last year of my life, as I have had fewer "mindless" moments on autopilot. I hate the feeling that the days and weeks and years are flying by without my realizing it! "Busy" is a symptom of the same fight for balance. Good luck to everyone in achieving peace!!!

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