9 Ways to Be Less Busy All the Time

While we’re obviously not walking in your shoes, it’s a fair guess that you’re busy. Busy is everywhere in our world. We’re busy at work, busy with our families, busy making our homes look Pinterest perfect. Busy is almost inescapable.

Woman carrying coffee, phone and stack of papers
Woman carrying coffee, phone and stack of papers

While being busy can simply be a symptom of being a boss lady on the move, it can also promote unhealthy habits. According to a recent survey from online vitamin brand Care/of, the leading factor in preventing Americans from prioritizing their wellness in the last year was — you guessed it — being too busy. And don’t even get us started on the bigger-picture problems that come with a culture that places such a high value on busyness.

“The word busy has become problematic because we wear it like a badge of honor, as if the busier you are, the more successful or important you are,” writer and entrepreneur Liz Mally says of the busy epidemic. “But being busy isn’t the prize! We need to ban busy and work smarter, not harder. We also need to acknowledge that we’re all human and need to rest and recharge and make down time in order to be our best selves in work and life.”

Want to ban busy? Keep scrolling for nine expert tips on how to do it.

1. Study the calendar. Fight the Sunday scaries by making a habit of consistently reviewing your calendar as the weekend comes to a close. Doing this will allow you to prepare yourself for the moments or days that might feel especially busy so you can get ahead of the overwhelm. More importantly, you can find the gaps in the schedule where you can pencil in some non-negotiable time for yourself. Career counselor and coach Lynn Berger suggests a few minutes of “you time” daily, at a minimum. Ideally, she says, you should schedule an appointment for self-care two to three times per week.

2. Automate. You can cut back on the seemingly endless errands that take up hours of your days with automation. Take advantage of delivery and subscription services, switch all of your banking and bills over to online, and don’t be afraid to accept help from friends and neighbors who offer to take care of things for you as they go about their own business. “Automation is a modern woman’s best friend,” author Natalie Wise says. “It helps you keep fluid so you don’t get dizzy and need to get off the hamster wheel. You won’t get bogged down by lost energy, which is extremely draining, because all of your frenzied effort goes unrewarded and stresses you out more.”

3. Set a social budget. If a big chunk of your busyness comes from an overwhelming number of happy hours, birthday parties, and casual weekend hangs, you might consider implementing some specific boundaries on your social life. Time management consultant and author Rachelle Isip recommends a self-imposed limit on how many parties, dates, and other events you’ll attend over the course of a week or month. A budget will allow more time in your schedule for you and will make it easier for you to know when to politely decline an invitation.

4. Minimize phone notifications. The last thing you need when you’re already feeling stressed about your task list is a string of buzzes from your phone to make you feel even more overextended. Shut off those notifications. “We have trained ourselves to jump to the constant pinging of notifications on our phones,” certified life coach Karen Tindall tells us. “Many of them are unnecessary and, we spend time responding when it’s really not necessary to disturb what we are doing.” Silencing those pings will make it easier for you to get things done efficiently.

5. Place a high value on your time. All too often, we don’t value the precious hours of our lives as highly as we should. As a result, we randomly take on new commitments and find ourselves distracted, whether we’re sitting in a meeting, visiting with friends, or trying to have a meaningful conversation with our partners. Rank & Style CEO Jamie Chandlee urges you to only commit to the things that are *really* important to you and to be present in whatever you’re doing. “If you choose not to go to an event with friends, don’t spend a bunch of time trying to relive it by scrolling through Instagram,” she says. Sounds like a time suck to us.

6. Find peace in the hectic times. Regardless of how intentional you are about fighting the pressure to be busy, you’re bound to experience periods of life that are unavoidably chaotic. You have lots of deadlines at work, you’re managing a home renovation, you’re potty training your pup — you know the drill. Assuming you’ve managed the stress on most days, the best thing you can do in these moments is recognize that they’re bound to pass. Per licensed therapist Maria C. Inoa, you should also consider scheduling extra self-care time.

7. Stop being a perfectionist. “Adopt the mantra ‘done is better than perfect,'” certified master wellness coach Laura Albers suggests. “Being or trying to do everything perfectly is not only an impossible standard. It’s also one that will keep you feeling stuck and will limit your progress and your potential. Not to mention, it’s exhausting!” Resist the urge to strive for perfection all. the. time. You’ll be amazed by how much freer you feel to simply move through your schedule to get things done.

8. Set a bedtime. If you commit to sticking to a strict bedtime, you’ll at least have one boundary in place to limit the hours in which you can force yourself to be busy. Author Caitlin Fisher recommends implementing a consistent, non-negotiable bedtime that will cut off your productivity at a certain hour of the night. An added perk? Once you’re in the habit of getting enough sleep, you’ll feel more ready to tackle your long list of must-dos.

9. Recognize the difference between “busy” and “productive.” If you can’t seem to eliminate tasks and projects from your to-do list and are pretty sure that you’ll be objectively busy until the end of time, your best bet might be simply changing your language around the issue. Change up your perspective and start thinking of and talking about yourself as “productive” rather than “busy.” This may also help you ensure that you’re actually getting things done instead of feeling burned out.

Are you trying to be less busy? Tweet us how @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)