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John Hopkins Health Review just released a really great article about our problem of busyness and the problems that can stem from it, including: insomnia, faulty moral decision making, and stress. The article goes on to offer one main tip on how to change our individual culture of being too busy: do less!

Busyness is one of the key factors that seem to contribute to many of my client’s problems when they come in to Legacy Counseling Service in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Clients might not recognize it though. But when I ask about how their daily lives are going, their relationships, their fun…and are they enjoying any of that? Many people are not happy in these area. They feel like they are too busy to change anything, even though the know they need to. They want things to be different, they just don’t know how to do it. They want to get rid of the guilt and pressure that makes them do more, but they don’t know how. Even though the John Hopkins Health Review says “do less” it’s easier said than done.

Here are 4 things to consider, and then actually start practicing, to help you “do less.”

1.    Begin with The End in Mind.

This is Habit 2 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (LOVE this program, btw) by the legendary psychologist, Stephen Covey. If you aren’t familiar with Habit 2 here’s a summary video.

So, what are your values? What do you want to create in your life? If you imagined yourself celebrating your 80th birthday and friends, family, and colleagues were to make a toast in your honor, what would you want them to say about you at that celebration? I know it might be daunting to think forward so many decades, so instead maybe consider what would you want those same family, friends, and colleagues to say about your in 5 years? Now, consider how your current level of being busy will help you achieve these future life goals and character traits. If your level of busy gets in the way of you spending quality time with people you love, developing a hobby, playing, or improving your health, then you may want to consider making some changes to your daily or weekly routine.

2.    Learn What to Say “No” To, By Learning What To Say “Yes” To

In my mind this is a biggie. How can we do less unless we start saying no? So often we say yes to too many things for fear that we will hurt someone’s feelings, fear that the opportunity won’t come up again, or fear that we “should” do this. This is anxiety talking and this anxiety needs to be talked back to (you can read about how to do that here)! When fear dictates our priorities and schedules for too long we move towards burnout.  Here’s my main tip for determining if you should say “no” to something: ask yourself (AND actually answer the question): “If I say yes to this, what am I saying no to?” You can read more about the power of this question here.

3.    Make Time for What’s Important

I believe this is a true statement…. a hard, but true statement. I remember my late stepdad saying this when I was in my late teens, particularly when it came to spending quality time with family. I used to resent this statement back in those days. I didn’t want to feel that subtle guilt that showed up when I was acting in ways that was opposite of what I knew was important to me. Now that I’m older and “wiser” I honestly believe that this statement is true (still hard, but true). However, it’s so much easier said than done. After all, first we have to figure out WHAT things are truly important to us, then we have to figure out how to routinely put them into our lives (e.g., setting boundaries), and how to KEEP them in our lives (discipline) so that we can enjoy the fruits of our relationships and habits. Here’s a short video about discipline that I like.
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4.    Check your Thinking

If you’ve read any of my blogs before you know that “checking your thinking” is something I recommend often. Why? Because there is power in our thoughts. Our thoughts have the ability to influence how we feel, and what we do. They have the power to turn us towards negativity or positivity. If you tend to “mind read” or do a combination of “labelling yourself” while “overgeneraling” you will might have the thought “I’m selfish for not going to that event and now everyone is going to think that I don’t care about them.” Those types of thoughts will leave you with a feeling of anxiety or paranoia about your relationships and make it hard for you to just hang out with people for fear of what they are thinking about you. These types of thoughts can lead you to say “yes” to way too many things that aren’t truly important to you, or your relationships, and contribute to your own individual culture of busyness. So, learn how to listen to what your mind says to you, and then learn how to talk back to your thoughts.

Screenshot 2015-12-21 10.17.38Dr. Leedy is a clinical psychologist at Legacy Counseling Service in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She serves client in Tulsa, and throughout the state of Oklahoma through face-to-face and online counseling. She is a BIG believer in Stephen Covey’s 7-Habits of Highly Effective People, and Habit 2 (Begin with The End in Mind) is one of her favorite habits. She’s working on being less busy in her life, also, so she can enjoy her family and get back into some of her favorite hobbies. Call Dr. Leedy today at 539-777-1129 to talk with her about how she can help you get unstuck from your busy schedule and take back your life!

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