We’ve all felt rushed. A bit like a dog relentlessly chasing a ball, except this isn't fun, we’re worn out and there does’t appear to be an end in sight. It's exhausting. Here are some things I do which help me feel like I have more time.
Like everyone, I can vividly recall times when I've felt like there is absolutely nothing that I can let mark-off my to do list. It all needs to happen and now. I’ve held onto my to-do list so tightly that it creates a ball of stress in my stomach as well as a ball of scrunched-up paper in my hand. They feel a bit similar don’t they?
Over the years I’ve learnt to look at myself and spot a few patterns as to when this happens and how to get myself out of feeling like this!
Here are three approaches that I use when I feel overwhelmed with being busy.
I sop telling myself I don’t have time!
I’ve found that when I feel that I don’t have time for something it’s usually because I am telling myself “argh, I don’t have time!” My brain then begins to associate the current emotional state I am in with the thoughts of being busy. Unhelpful, this pushed me to work even harder. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I start to tell myself that feeling of pressure is me “not having time”.
The more I tell myself I don’t have time, then more my brain listens and the more I think I don‘t!
If you identify with this even a little bit then have a go at this...
The first step is trying to spot this pattern and where it’s showing up.
Is there one area in your life or current situation in your life where your feeling rushed?
In this situation try counting how many times you are tell yourself you don’t have time?
Could even tweak the self-talk a little to: “I have a little more time than I think I do and I have time to get some of these things done”.
I then try and work-out what conclusions my brain is jumping to…
Often for me the feeling of “not having time” is anxiety or stress. There will be one or two things on my to do list (most likely things that I least want to do) where my brain has assumed some significant consequences. Ultimately, I’m scared of failing. This also often leads me to procrastinate and then not do them at all which makes me tell myself I have even less time!
So for example, writing this blog post for a little while it was…“f I don’t get this done now I will never get it done.”
Can you identify the two things on your list that you feel most negatively about? What are the consequences of not doing them? Write them out on a piece of paper.
I ask myself what is the fear that my brain secretly thinks is true?
For me, I have two fears that pop-up when I’m in this situation.
“If I don’t get it don’t then I wont be successful and then I’ll be worthless!” - That last bit is the belief!
“I‘’m really scared of failing so I don’t want to do this. I might be judged and then rejected by everyone!” - The last sentence here is the belief!
Some times both come out and that’s when I end-up feeling VERY busy!
I usually then just totally step back
In this situation I normally spot what’s going on (though it’s taken years of practice!) and step a way totally from whatever I’m doing. Nine times out of ten that feeling I have is totally wrong and I know if I just “re-regulate” I’ll be able to get it all done and I’ll be able to keep any non-sensical judgments about rejection and worth in check.
If you’re feeling like it’s absolutely fundamental that you do everything right this second, you’re possibly a little panicked and/or in fight/flight/freeze/fawn response. When your nervous system is a bit dysregulated you’ll be more likely to think in terms of all-or-nothing. You’ll be making your choices binary and it will make it much hard to find solutions. If this is happening try and prioritise your mental and emotional well-being. Set aside an hour for something enjoyable - ideally with movement and that is healthy (i.e. not after work drinks). Build in some down time. Even if it’s just an hour.
If that still sounds impossible. Take a 15 minute time out and get curious about these fears. As yourself what you’re actually feeling and then rate how true the thought associated with it is out of ten. I.e. if I publish this blog will I really be rejected by all my friends, peers and network? Umm..no probably not.
When looking at the list I also ask myself are these things truly mandatory or are the things we feel obliged to do? And what’s the difference? If obliged whose voice is telling me it’s an obligation? Why does their voice matter to me?
Other times I’m trying to avoid feeling emotions about something totally different
I know I can have the tendency to tell myself that I am busy and “don’t have time” when the options of “not being busy” will mean I have to sit with uncomfortable feelings about something else going on in my life. Whether that’s the feelings of worry about not completing a tasks (as above) or the feelings that we’re trying to run away or distract ourselves from.
When it’s linked to something else in my life then everything on my to do list feels fundamental: I immediately need to do admin, make a reservation, go on Instagram. Sound familiar?
If this happens with me then I do the following…
I decidedly make time in the evening or morning for one hour to just be still. I move everything everything else, unless it’s absolutely that the sky will come falling down or the bailiffs will be at my door tomorrow if you don’t do it.
I tryand take myself to a place where I have complete silence and I start to explore what‘s going on. I write or doodle until I get to the bottom of what’s going on a then I try and just let those emotions be.
Have a go…
You don’t have to write or doodle what’s going one… you could move to them, talk about them to yourself or to someone else but get ok with feeling the discomfort. If you allow whatever you’re feeling to come to the surface without judging them chances are they will pass and you’ll feel a it lighter and like you have “a bit more time”.
THE KEY POINTS
It’s often the “cognitive load” of doing something or the emotions we associate with doing something that feel heavy and at times are the things that make us feel busy or like “we don’t have time”.
Sometimes we use busy-ness to distract ourselves from underlying emotions. Set some time aside to reflect on what you’re feeling. Get curious and be non-judgemental. Your emotions are a way your body communicates with you. Don’t judge them!
Stop telling yourself you don’t have time, work out which things on your to-do list are making you feeling stressed, split them down into small steps.
Get curious about ehat you’re telling yourself about a specific task or situation. How likely are the consequences that you’re imaging? Even if the worst-case scenario does happen what are you making it mean about you?
You may need help unpacking all of this. If so, coaching can help. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.