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Use These 4 Tools to Stop Being Busy

anxiety mindfulness personal stress Apr 10, 2023


Have you ever noticed that everyone seems busy all the time?

As couples, we're often too busy to talk about what's really going on, too busy to make time for date night, or, sometimes, even too busy to have a meaningful conversation.

As individuals, we're too busy to stay in touch with friends, too busy for hobbies (remember those?), or too busy to relax.

This harried state marks a strange inversion from previous generations. Leisure time used to be a marker of status. Now it means you have no goals, no ambition or drive.

Just imagine what would go down if you responded to someone at a random social gathering by saying, "You know what? My life feels totally spacious. I have more time than I know what to do with."

They would look at you funny. They would judge you. They might even ridicule you behind your back, telling their partner and friends that you're a sad person with no purpose, a lost soul with nothing to do.

Couples even get caught in this masochistic competition. When your partner complains of having a busy day, the norms of modern couplehood compel you to respond in kind. To boast about feeling relaxed or enjoying wide-open time in these moments would be to incite a downward spiral of tension and resentment.

There's just one problem with our modern busyness mindset: it creates a reality where we're always rushed, never relaxed, and caught in the grip of time scarcity, a reality where it's increasingly difficult to feel connected to our partner, our kids, our friends, our family, and even ourselves.

Living in this reality is like skiing through the trees of life in a state where we're blind to the wide open spaces, fixated instead on all the trees we might run into.

This isn't a good way to ski and it's not a great way to live either.

So how can you overcome your busyness mindset? Try out these tools.




1. Create intentional space.

To help unwind the momentum of busyness, start by setting aside intentional space in your day. This could be a space for exercise, meditation, yoga, or lying in the grass for a short nap. (Pro Tip: take a moment to savor these breaks and resist the temptation to turn them into yet one more to-do.)

Even just 10 or 15 minutes of this kind of intentional space holds the power to break the momentum of busyness.

These moments give you a reference point for seeing life through a lens that's different from our ordinary mindset of busyness. 


2. See the spaces.

The more advanced practice is to begin paying closer attention to the spaces that are already there, littered throughout each day: waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting on a 15-minute hold with a customer service rep, or the 15-minute Uber ride.

We typically see these idle moments either as annoying inconveniences or as opportunities to indulge our addiction to screens. 

The invitation here is to turn these throwaway moments into intentional spaces, gaps in the hectic flow of busyness.

Take a breath. Look around. Smell a flower or two.  


3. Be the space.

Now for the most advanced tool. Instead of just creating or seeing the space, be the space.

What does that mean?

It means shifting out of the busyness mindset in the midst of the calls, meetings, tasks, and events that make up your day.

When we're in this mindset of constant busyness, after all, everything gets small. Our mind tunnels in on the stress, the irritation, the false urgency, and the anxiety. Space disappears. 

To be the space in these moments is to see them from a bigger view. And while this may sound like some New Age post on Instagram, an emerging body of research shows that by expanding our vision -- by seeing these moments in panoramic awareness -- we can radically enhance our experience of life and maybe even stop feeling so busy all the time.


4. Be spacious together.

Take a moment with your partner to transition from the busyness of your day to an evening or night where you have a mindset of spaciousness (even if there is still a lot to do).

Take a few minutes to just hang out. Open the space for a moment of connection where you aren’t rushed or busy. Just hold hands. Or sit on the couch (without your phones).

Take a collective deep breath. Enjoy this moment of simply being together with nothing else to do.  


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