Why are you so busy?


Years ago, 10 years to be exact, my friend, Beth, asked me the question, “why are you so busy?”

You see, I’d cram my weekly goals list so full of things and it’s amazing to me to think about now, but I’d actually get them all done.

But one day she asked me this question and do you know what I said?

“I think I’m trying to avoid the pain”.

The pain of infertility, of trying and trying to have kids, and this thing feeling and being completely out of my control.

Once I had that realisation, I slowed down a lot. It wouldn’t appear so to most people because I’ve always been a very driven person from my childhood, but a lot of slowing down happened. I even chose a word for the year, simplify, to help me focus on slowing down.

I think my default for not dealing with things is to get busy.

I’m now very conscious that when I feel like I need to do everything, it probably means I’m trying to avoid dealing with something emotional.

I then stop and ask myself, what am I trying to avoid?


So I’m going to ask you the same thing if you’re filling your life with non-life giving activities.

What’s really going on? Why are you so busy?

Marie Kondo said in her book that once your home is “tidy”, you then have no more space to avoid your big life decisions. I agree.

Gretchen Rubin says something along the same vein about a friend of hers: “I organised my fridge and now I can look for a new job”.

Are you occupying yourself with busyness (or social media or comparison envy) instead of dealing with your own big life issues?

Have a think and maybe you’ll also find that you’re avoiding something you need to deal with. If you’d like to work through some of these issues, I’d love to work with you. Check out the coaching options and email me when you’re ready.

Do you want to share? I’d love to hear more in the comments.

{time} Your ideal weekend

On a Monday a couple of weeks ago, a colleague at work asked me how my weekend was, as you do, and I said, “it was a really great weekend”.

“Oh,” they said, “tell me more”.

And then I realised that nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

I’d had a friend date on the Friday afternoon, hosted my kids’ book club, gone to Zumba and church, did some pottering around the house and read a book.

Kind-of standard things for me, but a really great weekend I realised because it had MY three ideal elements in the correct ratios.

  1. People/ out and about stuff
  2. Productivity
  3. Relaxation

It got me thinking that having a great weekend is completely within my control because I can control all of those components.

I’d been feeling a bit blah lately and when Dion and I unpacked my feelings, I realised I hadn’t had enough people time. As an extrovert, I’m energised by spending time with people.

My happy number is about 5 – 6 friend dates every month. Book club happens automatically and my friend dates are set up on a schedule, but when they get cancelled, I’m not upset (life happens) but I feel it later in this low energy state. What I need to do is then possibly reach out and just connect with a friend by phone.

We were at book club recently when one of our introvert members explained to two of us extroverts that it’s nothing personal but they just don’t feel the need to spend time with people. I must say, I was a bit surprised but I had an aha moment about friendship right there and then.

Over to you.

What does your ideal weekend look like? And are you an introvert or an extrovert? How does this play out in your weekend plans?

Are you a time pessimist?

One of the main reasons many of us feel overwhelmed is because we’re not getting around to doing all we want to do, or we think we should be able to do more than we currently do.

I regularly meet women who think they should be able to work full-time, go to the gym 5 days a week, cook from scratch every day, spend hours reading with their kids every day and spend an hour a day on their own hobbies.

It’s not going to happen unless they don’t need much sleep.

A time optimist is someone who thinks they can do more in a specific period of time than an average person can realistically do.

I’ll confess – I’m often a time optimist in my personal life. Those weekend to-do lists with 15 tasks when I realistically am only going to be home a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday? Time optimism.

It’s really strange since I’m usually a time realist in my work life:

– I know that things happen unexpectedly in the traffic so I need to leave extra time to get anywhere.
– I know that if I think I can see 5 people and sort out 5 issues in an hour, I’ll probably only be able to realistically do 3 or 4 because of other interruptions, people in meetings or on lunch, etc.
– I know that when arranging meetings, I have to be flexible so the most important agenda items are discussed in case we run out of time.

A time realist is realistic about how long things take and buffers in time when necessary.

Back to my time optimism though.

When I put 6 things on a list and therefore only manage two of them because I know full well I have a really busy day…I’m being a time optimist.

I think things will go quicker than they inevitably do, or that I’m Superwoman and can do those things quickly.

And yet I often tease my husband because he’s a true time optimist.

He always thinks he can get much more done on the weekends and is then disappointed when we only get to do one or two things.

The time pessimist thinks there’s never enough time to do anything – read, organise, do fun things – so doesn’t even try.

It’s no secret that there are many time pessimists all around. This is one of the reasons I wrote the book (31 Days of Enough Time) which you can get by following the links in my sidebar.

How about a few quick examples?

You have 15 minutes before a meeting.

Time optimist – “I can probably get 10 emails done if I do them really quickly”

Time realist – “I can answer 2 long emails or about 5 quick ones”

Time pessimist – “15 minutes? No point me starting an email. I’ll just get started and have to stop”

You’re invited to join a once-a-month book club.

Time optimist – “Great! I can probably read 4 books a month even though I only read 3 total last year, during my holidays”

Time realist – “If I set aside 20 minutes a day, I can easily get through a book every month. Sign me up”

Time pessimist – “No, thank you. I don’t have any time to read because I work and I have two kids. Yes, I’m on Facebook but that’s my relaxation time”

So, are you a time optimist, a time realist, or a time pessimist?

How can you become more of a time realist?

What a bullet journalling experiment taught me

A few months ago I decided to make a list of all the podcasts I listened to during that week.

I didn’t choose a particular week; it was simply a random week without any forethought.


At the end of the week, I totalled up the time spent listening and I had a big shock:

11 hrs 45 minutes

A few thoughts flashed through my mind:

  • I could have listened to 1 long fiction book or 1.5 non-fiction books.
  • I worked from home 3 days that week and about 3 hours a day is not unreasonable. I also listen to podcasts while tidying and organizing on the weekend.
  • Hmmm. What would happen if I tried some new things?

This is fascinating because I’m both the subject of the study and the scientist.

I also have a phone storage problem because I only have a 16 GB iPhone which means I have to delete photos off my phone twice a month. I actually don’t mind this because it keeps me in a good photo routine.

I also have to be diligent to only download one audio book at a time and only my subscribed podcasts.

Do you know what I decided as a result of all this thinking?

I unsubscribed from all but two podcasts.

No prizes if you guessed one of those podcasts is Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The other is the 5-word prayers daily with Lisa Whittle.

The other podcasts are still there but they’re below the subscription fold so I see them update but I only consciously download an episode when I’m ready to listen.

This decision…

1) freed me up because I don’t feel any podcast guilt (similar to Feedly guilt when you see 172 unread blog posts ;)) and in true upholder fashion,

2) I decide how much I want to listen to and when, and

3) if I don’t feel excitement about the episode, I don’t even download it. Before, the episodes would drop automatically and I’d feel almost compelled to listen immediately because of the aforementioned storage issue.

4) I’ve also listened to lot more audio books!

Yes, this post is about me listening to podcasts but it’s really about tracking behavior and making changes to align to your goals.

I have a few questions for you:

Have you ever tracked your time for a day or week? You’ll be surprised how much time you spend doing mindless tasks.

What have you learned as a result?

Is there something niggling at you? perhaps you spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram?

(our pastor said something this weekend that has stuck with me – people spend approximately 4 hours a day on social media, and other people are making money from those same people scrolling their feeds. Wow!)

You have more than enough time

This post might rub some of you up the wrong way but the truth is we all have 24 hours a day. The President has 24 hours and we have 24 hours. The only difference is how we choose to use it.

Our lives are a product of the choices we make with our time.

If you choose to relax for 4 hours each day watching TV, interacting on social media and so on, then own your choice. Don’t complain that you have no time to read books, cook healthy food, organise your home, go to gym, do your hobbies, or play with your kids.

Rather say, “I’m choosing to spend my time relaxing”. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re being intentional.

People ask me how I get all the things done that I do and my answer is always the same – I prioritise and make time for certain things over others (like watching TV).

I have a friend who doesn’t seem to need much sleep because we email at 11 pm, sometimes even at midnight, but then she gets up really early in the mornings and is out for a walk at 6 am while I’m sleeping.

I don’t condemn myself for that; I choose to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night instead of exercising that early. I’m owning my choice. She chooses to exercise instead of spending a lot of time sleeping.

Now, let’s roll up those daily hours into a week.

24 hours in a day means 168 hours a week. 168 hours feels much more expansive for me. It always feels like there’s time to do everything I want and there is enough time; it’s just how we frame it.

I sleep for 52.5 hours a week. That leaves 115.5 hours for work, family, exercise, cooking, organising, reading, photography and so on.

When I put it like that, doesn’t it seem like there’s enough time to do everything in the world? There is.

We’re just not aware that there’s that much time because we think we only have two hours at night after the kids go to bed.

Start thinking of the hours before work if you’re an early bird, the hour at lunch time, and the hours once you get home but before bed.

I calculated once and realised I have 4.5 hours every night once I get home from work at 06:00 before I start my bedtime routine, and I even get an extra hour some days.

If we average it out, 5 hours then seems like plenty of time to cook, connect with Dion and the kids, eat supper, work on my business and blog, read and yes, even to exercise.

But only if I’m intentional about it.

Your coaching challenge
• Stop. Realise that you have an abundance of time for everything you want to do.
• Think about how you currently regularly spend your time.
• Is there something you’d rather have in your life?
• Consciously decide to make a different choice for at least one day during the next week.

I wrote a book called 31 days of enough time with small steps to help you move towards a life of time abundance. That’s the first step if you recognize this as a need in your life.

Otherwise, if you know you’d like to work with me privately to maximize your time usage, contact me for a 1:1 laser coaching session or weekly coaching sessions.

{Bullet journal} – what I’m bullet journalling these days

It’s been a while since I wrote a bullet journalling post so I thought I’d check in to:

  • tell you that yes, I’m still bullet journaling
  • share some of the pages in my current bullet journal (there is one page that deserves its own post so look for that next week)

Quotable quotes

I still think of my bullet journal in terms of planning pages and “useful lists” pages.

The planning pages I have in this bullet journal are the following:

  1. Monthly review
  2. Goals brainstorm
  3. Weekend to do list
  4. Work from home list (it’s a daily to-do list I use once a week)

When I had a quick squiz through a bullet journal post I wrote last year, I noticed that everything is still 100% accurate and…. that I probably need to start a life admin page again. On the bright side, there is nothing I need to put on the list for my car (insert dancing lady emoji here) 😉

Another change is that I have a separate small notebook (just a bit bigger than A6) for my weekly goals accountability chats with Beth. I used to always keep a separate notebook in years past and I must say, I love having my goals in their own special book 🙂

Bullet journal

Some other pages I’m still using are:

  1. Blog ideas
  2. Podcast club notes
  3. Quotable quotes
  4. Things to talk to ______ about (I have a ton of phone friend dates and if I want to remember to ask/ tell my friends something, I refer to this list to be sure to ask about something we spoke about before)

One big change is that I now have a dedicated notebook (just an 80-pager) for all things books and reading.

I have a monthly page where I write down the books I’ve read (I still use Goodreads but it’s easier to take this notebook with me to book club or to use for my monthly reading recaps here on the blog), notes on the book club book, books to read for book club and I need to update my favourite authors’ pages again.

Bullet journal

Why the separate book bullet journal?

I like a thin bullet journal so I currently go through about 3 – 4 notebooks a year. I found that I constantly had to ferret out old bullet journals to reference my reading lists. It’s not a huge problem because I have a specified shelf in my study where they all live but it was a bit too inconvenient for these lists I reference very often.

(if you look at my Instagram stories, I often post snapshots of how this list changes throughout the month)

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Are you still bullet journalling? How do you use your bullet journal these days? Has anything changed from when you first started?

{Marcia reads} How is your phone changing you?

I read a great book in February called, 12 ways your phone is changing you by Tony Reinke. I actually listened to this book on audio while driving to work but you might want to get it on Kindle so you can highlight and make notes.

Yes, it’s one of those where you want to take notes.

This book was great, so full of nuggets and things to think about.

I think the author is a questioner on the Four Tendencies framework.

What I loved is that there was no “this is how it must be done” but lots of facts, research, and questions to make you think about your own habits in each of the 12 areas. It had a very balanced view and is refreshingly full of solid Bible teaching without being preachy.

 

A few questions I wrote down while driving:

  • Are you reading more or less books as a result of you being on social media?
  • Am I a digital busybody or am I genuinely curious?
  • Does my digital art dim glory or reflect His glory? Sometimes we want our glory now instead of waiting for eternal glory.
  • Are we digital narcissists?

I actually feel like I need a re-listen, this time with a notebook in hand 🙂

Ultimately, this book is a call to live a more intentional and purposeful life in the arena of smartphone usage.

If you have a niggle that your phone might be taking over in a number of areas of your life, I’d urge you to give this one a read.

I have spoken before about how we could all be reading more, for instance, if we took just some of our social media time every week and used that time to read.

So this is going to make me think some more about my phone usage.

Where do you feel your phone usage is negatively impacting your life? Are you more anxious? Do you procrastinate on work? Do you default to your phone when your kids are annoying you? 🙂

If you get sidetracked with your phone or computer…..

I know I’m not the only one who does this…

I get on my computer to, let’s say, write a blog post.

Thirty minutes later, I’ve read other people’s blogs, played with photos and done many other things but not actually written the blog post.

These days I have a simple trick that’s really helping me – I write a list of things I am allowed to do at the computer and keep it right in front of me.

Some of the items may be non-computer things like painting my nails if I need to wait for things like photos to download, which helps me to not go to feedly to read blogs while waiting 🙂

actual computer to-do list from last weekend

Try it – especially if you also get sidetracked and let me know how it works for you! This will obviously work just as well for your phone.

What are your computer tricks to keep you focused?

(while specifically writing, I like to set my iPhone timer for 15-minute blocks)

Two easy ways to expand time

I know that the common refrain is to say there’s not enough time or we’re all so busy, but I don’t believe it.

After all, I wrote a book on how there is enough time (for everything you want to do).

Check it out here

  1. Focus on your energy levels

Time is elastic, you see, and is hugely affected by energy levels.

If you focus on things that give you energy, you’ll get more done. I realise that’s not always possible but if you intersperse must-do tasks with those energy-giving activities, you’ll find that you gain energy… and therefore, time.

Some more thoughts on increasing your energy during the workday and getting microbursts of energy.

2. Be more mindful

Consider this: if you take the time to be more intentional and mindful about your days and weeks, you’ll notice where you’re wasting time, where your energy lags, where you could use your time in a different and more effective way.

E.g. I easily waste an hour or more on Instagram every day. Once I became more mindful about this “practice”, I vowed to read a book during that time instead. I haven’t completely stopped wasting time on Instagram but I know that if I only spend 15 minutes on Instagram, I could easily read for 30 minutes or more during that time, which is of course, a much better use of my time.

It’s really about being aware of what you’re doing and choosing in that moment to continue consciously, or to choose a better way.

What are your tips and tricks to expand your time?

Who do you find it easiest to say no to?

One of my favourite experts on goal-setting, Gary Ryan Blair, said this: “success in life requires a short “Yes” list, and a long “No” list”.

I tend to agree with him.

Whenever I coach time management clients or get interviewed on time management tips, one of the first things I tell people is this:

The absolute quickest way to get results with your time is to learn which things to say yes to and which to say no to.

The no list should always be longer.

There are far more demands on our time than we can ever even hope to satisfy. From requests for time commitments to outside stimuli like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, phone and text messages, the list goes on and on.

Remember, you always say no to at least one thing when you say yes to something else.

For example…
• if you say yes to volunteering on 3 committees, you’re saying no to one or all of the following: your family, your self-care, your exercise time, your household… one committee is possibly enough.
• if you say yes to that beautiful new pair of shoes you really can’t afford, you’re saying no to your debt-reduction plan and maybe to some more clutter!

No is a small word but is often so hard for some of us to say.

The good news is that saying no is like going to the gym and building some muscle.

It feels very uncomfortable at first but the more you work at it, the easier it becomes.

The first couple of times you’ll probably cringe inside as you hear yourself saying no, wondering if your family, friends and colleagues will still like you.

Once you get a bit more practice, you start to get more comfortable and very soon, you’ll develop an ease and grace about it.

Why should you say no?

1. it helps you set firm boundaries
2. it helps you honour your values
3. it makes you more productive
4. it reduces your stress
5. it frees you to serve where you’re called to with joy

I’m challenging you to slow down and think carefully before you say yes to anything.

In fact, why don’t you start saying, “let me get back to you on that” so you think clearly about the situation before committing yourself.

And when you say no to things that don’t support your goals, you’re free to say yes to all the things that really do matter to you.

Tell me. Do you have more problems saying no to yourself or to other people?

PS if you need some coaching to help you improve your “no” muscle, this is one of my areas of expertise and I’m happy to work with you. Send me an email and let’s set up your session.

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