I had said yes one too many times and my life was too full for me to pull it off. I was forgetting appointments, neglecting my family and feeling like I was so busy that all I had time for was guilt.
Ever felt like that?
Busy. It’s such a loaded word, isn’t it?
Some people think busy is a bad word! When a woman says she is “way too busy,” it can be code for “I have no balance in my life and it is totally out of control!” Some women wear busy like a badge, as if her level of exhaustion and the number of things on her to-do list indicate her level of importance and her amount of significance.
Busy is relative. For one woman, busy may be a hair appointment on the same day she has to grocery shop. For another woman who starts her day at 6:00 AM and follows her first cup of coffee with six appointments, four phone calls, her part-time job, car-pooling the kids, and making dinner, the thought of being busy never even enters her mind! She still has time and energy to spare.
There’s not just one way to define busy. The definition of busy is as individual as each woman.
But, there are some kinds of busy that aren’t healthy. And, I had all the symptoms of unhealthy busy…the wrong kind of busy!
But, I’m learning how to be the best kind of busy for me. So, no matter your capacity for activity or your definition of busy, these are three wrong kinds of busy we should all avoid:
1. Boundary-less Busy:
The woman who has no boundaries and, consequently, has no time is suffering from boundary-less busy. When you say yes to everything, you can’t say yes to the best things. It’s okay to have boundaries. You don’t have to volunteer just because you were asked to. Your kids don’t have to play every sport every season. You don’t have to be at every event every night. “No” is not a bad word, I promise!!
When you don’t set boundaries, you have no standard to help you discern what you should do and what you should not do. Consequently, you feel overwhelmed and always under pressure. Examine your schedule. It’s okay to be busy, but it’s not okay to be busy because you have no boundaries.
Think about your calling. Consider your purpose. What are the things that you, and only you, can do? Answering those questions can help you determine how to set some boundaries.
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2. Bored Busy:
This kind of busy is what you do when you really aren’t busy enough — when you don’t fill your time with purposeful, meaningful activity. It’s the kind of busy that, by the end of the day you say, “Wow, where did the time go? I was so busy but I don’t know what I did.”
Now, we all have days like these. A few days like that every now and then is fine — actually, it feels good. But, the woman who is perpetually bored busy probably spends lots of time on Facebook or Instagram; she may have watched QVC or binge-watched her favorite home improvement show for hours. All the while, the dishes sit in the sink and the laundry piles up and her sense of value plummets.
Boredom motivates us to do something. The problem is that not everything is worth doing. If you’re busy but not sure why, start jotting down on your calendar what you did that day. After a few weeks, you will be able to determine if you are the wrong kind of busy. If you are, think about what you are called to do. Examine your purpose. Design activities around your calling and purpose to fill your time and heart with the right kind of busy.
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3. Borrowed Busy:
This kind of busy isn’t really yours but you get caught up in it and eventually, swallowed by it. Borrowed busy always starts with an assumption.
“They need my help.”
“I can do it better.”
“If I don’t do it, who will?”
Instead of engaging in something that is truly yours, you borrow someone else’s job or opportunity or responsibility and either do it for them, instead of them, or with them.
Helping out is great. We should be willing to lend a hand, sacrifice, and help a sister out. But, we get mired in borrowed busy when we assert ourselves in places we don’t need to. A hint that you are caught up in borrowed busy is when you feel such pressure because you are so busy but you just can’t seem to get to the things on your own to-do list that you really need to.
Consider what consumes your time. Think about what you don’t ever seem to get done. It may be that you are busy with something that needs to be done but it just may be that you are not the one who needs to be doing it.
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Balanced busy looks different for each of us depending on our callings and capacities. You alone know if your life is balanced no matter how busy you may seem.
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So, get with your Father God and your calendar and ask for His guidance.
“Teach us to number our days that we may have a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 ESV)
P.S. If you discover you are the wrong kind of busy, remember that there is no room for guilt in God’s presence or on your calendar! Girl, you don’t have enough time in the day for guilt — you are way too busy for that!
Do any of the three wrong kinds of busy remind you of you? If so, share in the comments below, including what steps you’re going to take to change it.