How to make yourself busy

16 Nov

imageDo you ever get periods of your life where you feel like your hurling yourself through the days at break-neck speed? Rush, rush and rush some more. When there is so much you feel like you need to do that you wonder if real living is passing you by a bit. I want to do so many more meaningful things but find myself bogged down with the many mundane things that need to be done first.

I work Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, I tutor students Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings after work, it takes about 4 hours at the weekend to plan these sessions. Then there is the cleaning, cooking, washing, responding and taking an hour to write up the list of all the things I need to do. I get up at 6am (on the days I can make myself) before work so that I have at least 45 minutes a day to write.

It all begins to take its toll. I can feel my body tiring and growing heavy under it all.

All through last week, I had been looking forward to Friday night when I would meet with my Mum and Sister and go to the Late Shift at the National Portrait Gallery. There would be jazz…..

Listening to the Jazz.

Listening to the Jazz.

Drawing and dinner……

Me trying to draw.

Me trying to draw.


Mum and sister sketching away.

Mum and sister sketching away.


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Our sketched hands


In an effort to look reasonable in the evening, I had even ventured to wear contact lenses instead of glasses…these days my eyes are too tired to wear contact lenses and Friday was no exception. By the time we got to dinner I felt utterly run down, my eyes stung, my limbs felt like they were carved out of stone and when I lent my head forwards it felt like a sack of potatoes trying to push against my forehead. I think it was all pure tiredness. Work has been particularly stressful at the moment and I was only sleeping very lightly waking up all the time throughout the night and the sign that I’m not at all relaxed…grinding my teeth.

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I dream of having a stretch of time,  a few weeks with everything taken away, where there is nothing to do but sleep, read and just sit in the middle of a beautiful patch of nature. I crave it, I need it but know its not possible.

What to do then? Well, I’ve forced myself to sit still for a moment or two and think about what all this busyness means.

I’ve realised:

1) I make myself busy.

2) I glorify being busy.

3) I’m slightly at a loss when I’m not busy

4) I’m obsessed with lists, and a lot of my time is spent creating lists to the extent that I spend more time writing the list then doing the things on the list!

5) I can’t complain about being busy when a lot of it is self-inflicted.

6) Secretly I love to be busy.

7) I equate business with using my time in a worthwhile way (this is a false presumption).

8) I need to focus on one thing instead of trying to do everything.

9) Doing too much is beginning to take its toll.

10) I need to stop and just be still once in a while.

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Epiphanies are wondrous moments of reckoning, reckoning of yourself. I’m reckoning that there is a pattern emerging from all my past years. I always try to do more than is expected of me, I do more in any given situation than needs to be done. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Right now, I need to step away from this auto-pilot mode to do more and start to do less. I need to focus on what my body and soul need and use that as the maximum level of what I do each day.

To this end:

No more unnecessary lists, more writing and blogging, no more rushing (if I’m late, I’m late), more music, more exercise and less making myself busy for the sake of it.

How do you find time to do all the things you want to do? Do you know when its time to step back and be rather than do? Is there anything you should focus your time on more?



2 thoughts on “How to make yourself busy

  1. My life has forced me to be rather than do. It’s been the greatest emotional/ spiritual journey I have walked in my life; to have the doing taken away. It forces you to see the great rush for what it is. To lament the times you wasted on things that ultimately don’t matter. But it is almost impossible for a rusher to slow down enough to see these things. That makes you exceptional Naomi! Pre-sick I often thought “if I don’t do these things, who will? Everything will fall apart, nothing will be done properly…. ” the only thing that fell apart when things didn’t get done properly was me.We create such enormous pressure for ourselves, don’t we?
    The hands are beautiful by the way, I’m sorry you felt so exhausted that night. Remember, you’ve just been through a bereavement, it is no wonder you are so strung out. Be kind to yourself. Keep taking the pressure off, one little thing at a time.
    I love to read your posts.

  2. Rachel, thank you for your comment, it made me stop and think what it must be like for life to cause you to be rather than do and the perspective that must give. We do create enourmous pressures for ourselves, we-create-it-for-ourselves (!) a lot of the time and its learning to know this and stop yourself from doing it so much. It was very relaxing to just stop and draw a hand, more of this kind of thing needs to be thread through my days.

    Rachel you are a wise lady and your absolutely right. I need to be less hard on myself, especially at the moment.

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