Why I don’t do busy

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece about choices I’ve made in my life.

Ask me if I’ve been busy lately and I will tell you that I don’t do busy. I’m not trying to be smart, it’s a central theme of how I live my life.

A while back I made a conscious decision to edit my life and one of the things I cut was my addiction to being busy all the time. In truth, I never liked being busy, it just seemed like the thing to do.

It’s the default response when you ask people how their day was or how they’ve been. Busy is a more pleasant euphemism when “stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed” would have been more accurate descriptions.

Being busy with lots of things to do made me feel important and interesting. I would gloat to people about how busy I was. I wore my busy-ness with pride. If there was a competition on who could be the busiest, I would have been a front-runner.

I used to have a busy job, managing multiple client portfolios and I had to be across $10 million in client projects. My days were back to back meetings, deadlines, presentations and dealing with the fallout when things went wrong. My phone rang hot and my inbox overflowed.

From the moment I entered the office, I would down several coffees and switch into hyperdrive. I hate to admit this but often times I would skip lunch, not drink any water and not go to the bathroom when I needed to because I was too busy. I would remain in a perpetual hurry and would act surprised when I couldn’t sleep at night. I was tired and wired.

This busy-ness would also spread to my free time where I constantly felt the need to be doing stuff and filling my spare time to the brim. I would attempt to ‘wind down’ with 3 screens open. I was the queen of multitasking.

Fortunately for me, my body put a stop to all this nonsense and I developed a chronic illness. This forced me to slow down and evaluate wtf was going on. When I wasn’t busy, I felt this gaping hole of emptiness and it made me feel super uneasy. When I wasn’t busy, a sense of restlessness bubbled to the surface and I couldn’t escape the dissatisfaction I felt about my existence and the meaning of my life.

I used to fill this emptiness with compulsive busy-ness because, you know, this infinite vortex of nothing was pretty uncomfortable. So I would stuff it with food, alcohol, exercise, shopping and the internet. But being forced to slow down made me realise how uncomfortable I was with a slow pace. It made me realise how much I was hiding underneath the busy-ness. I thought I was a happy and successful person. It turns out I wasn’t…

Slowing down and eliminating unnecessary busy-ness in my life has created space for more pleasure, ease and meaning. Consciously choosing to deal with myself, rather than distracting myself with being busy has been a catalyst for huge personal growth. But it wasn’t easy.

It’s a moment by moment choice to be with ourselves rather than running away. It takes courage to feel like shit instead of seeking the social media dopamine hit. We convince ourselves that doing something is better than nothing.

Not being busy has also made me more productive. I’m better able to focus, I can get stuff done when I need to but I do it in a relaxed way. I don’t rush and I’m rarely in a hurry. Because I don’t need to. Not being busy has opened up space for creativity in my life.

Yes, I’m lucky that I work for myself but everyone has a choice about how they spend their time.

Busy-ness is insidious and pervasive. The antidote is slowing down, breathing and connecting to the body. There’s a saying that you teach what you most need to learn. That’s why I teach slowing down, breathing, being in the body and calming the mind. It just so happens that my personal experiences and strategies to break the addiction to busy-ness resonate with others.

Monica xx

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  1. Nicole March 31, 2017 at 7:03 am - Reply

    I could have written this, this was/is me. I have had to let the busy go too. It’s confronting when it happens, wtf couldn’t be more apt. I refuse to go back to that and mindfulness practice has literally changed my life. I’m not fully confident in my new direction yet but once there is awareness there can’t be a going back. I loved reading your post. I’m on the path of now seeking my people, trying to fit in with those who are unconscious and who spread their negative energy to anyone and everyone who comes near them cannot be part of my life anymore, it’s exhausting. I wish you continued peace and presence. X

    • Cultivate Calm Yoga March 31, 2017 at 11:00 am - Reply

      Thanks Nicole,
      I’m so glad this resonated with you. There’s definitely no going back once we’ve woken up. Best wishes on your journey, you’ve made the hardest step already. Monica xx

  2. Cindy April 2, 2017 at 8:44 am - Reply

    I love this – I’m still struggling to change my mindset having recently left a similar job and now trying to untangle my habits which no longer serve me.
    I still catch myself now and then feeling guilty that I’m not filling every spare minute with more work in order to be better, do better in life, but when I do consciously create time for me, I’ve found it to be seriously joyous.
    I have these awesome memories of being bored as a kid – lying on a trampoline and watching the clouds sometimes for an hour or more, sometimes falling asleep in the warm sun. And these days, I remind myself that it was not just a privilege of the young and I can access that kind of simple joy whenever I want.
    I love that yoga creates space in your life, in your mind and your body for self reflection and self care. And you do such a beautiful job at helping others to experience that. ?

  3. Shakti, Joyfulmind April 2, 2017 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Love this too Monica. The best thing about a breakdown is the new choices it opens up.
    Although I made the leap 3 decades ago, I still notice a busy driveness creeping into my life every so often. For  those times, I’m learning to
    investigate my fears: what drives me to speed? Yoga and meditation provide such a nurturing, supportive nest for reflection and self-kindness. Thanks for the blog post. Hope to get to your studio one day!
    Best wishes Shakti

  4. Karishma April 2, 2017 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Love this article Monica. I’m definitely trying to reduce the ‘busy’ out of my life. If your classes were closer to my home I’d be there. Hope you are well. xx

  5. Jim June 25, 2017 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    Great post Monica..

    so many items in there i can relate to i used to be mad busy too..just trying too hard and like you said almost feeling irritable if you had a moment to yourself.
    i decided to slow down about 3 years ago i was just flogging myself and i remember someone saying to me you must never get any time to yourself and i remember saying ..”that’s the way I like it ”
    that statement stuck with me and i thought it’s true i never sit down and read or just relax or daydream .
    one of my friends said to me “you’d be an ideal candidate for Yoga”
    and here I am i think i must be in my third year now at CCY.
    I feel that Yoga is pure me time it’s the opposite of everything , no watch ,no i.d. badge,no shoes and no judgement from our amazing teachers.

    • Cultivate Calm Yoga June 26, 2017 at 8:12 am - Reply

      Thanks So much for your comment Jim, and I’m so glad you found us when you did. You’re proof that yoga really works

  6. Celia August 27, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Thank you Monica for sharing your story, I can relate to it many ways. I’m at that point in my own life where change needs to happen. Your words have inspired me and given me the courage to begin the process.

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