There are three types of busy people in the world: The ones who are always on the clock (firefighters, working single moms, Obama), the ones who unnecessarily overcommit themselves (me), and the ones who just say they're busy, but actually aren't (also me, depending on the day). This article is for the last two—so if you fall into either category, please clear some time in your schedule and read on.
In high school, I was taught that being busy was a sign of success. If you didn't have play rehearsal, student government, field hockey practice, and five hours of homework every night—what were you doing? My obsession with filling all my free time has reached a point where I reflexively respond to invites with, "Sorry, can't—too busy!" regardless of whether or not I'm actually, in fact, busy.
The weirdest part? When free time does occasionally fall into my lap, I don't know what to do with myself! I get antsy and uncomfortable and start cleaning my apartment—an unfortunate (but sanitary) side effect fellow busy bees have told me they share. So how do we all learn to take a step back and just chill?
I've drafted up some tips to make 2017 a year of only committing to things that are important to me and focusing more on the present. Join me?
Tip No. 1: Take Busyness Off Its Pedestal
Busyness is a point of pride. Admit it: There's something enviable about the girl who rushes in halfway through a party from a previous party, only to leave ten minutes later for yet another party. Meanwhile, you're over in the corner like, "I literally have nowhere else to be." But guess what? That's totally fine! In fact, it's arguably better because you're both physically and mentally present, and committing fully to the people around you.
Tip No. 2: Take a Look at Your Schedule and Prioritize
Are you really too slammed to get dinner with your friends, or are you just stressed about the amount of work on your plate? Figure out exactly what needs to be done tonight and what can wait, and you might realize you can enjoy a meal out before you get down to work (and think how much happier you'll be when you do!).
Tip No. 3: Stop Overcommitting
Trim the excess in your week by sorting out what events are important to you, and which ones you can cut. Secretly hate your book club? Stop going! Shed the mental weight of finishing a book you don't actually like and meeting up with people you don't really connect with, and feel the unnecessary stress melt away.
Tip No. 4: Meditate
Yes, you've heard this one a million times, but actually carving out time each day to focus your energy and just breathe can be the difference between blowing your workload out of proportion and realizing that hey, it's not so bad after all.
Tip No. 5: Be Confident in Your Availability
The most crucial step toward living a less busy life is not feeling ashamed of it. When friends ask what you're up to this weekend, be proud in declaring, "No plans!" They're not going to think any less of you. In fact, they may even envy your lack of obligations. Sometimes sitting on your couch doing absolutely nothing after a long week is the best feeling in the whole world. And that's A-OK.