How To Spot Busyness In Your Life And Overcome It

Busyness is not the spice of life. It is the curse of mankind. Yep…I said it. For many years, I lived my life in the busy zone and have learned this is a horrible place to live.

The Difference Between Busy and Busyness

We can be busy with our schedule in a week or on a day, but not be overcome by busyness.

Busyness is a chronic state of being with no apparent meaning. We can be busy moving from one activity to another, yet have meaning. However, when we compound our busy lifestyle and accept meetings we shouldn’t and so forth, we move into a busyness state of being.

I am fully aware of the trap of busyness – I have been there too often and for too long. It took me a long time to come out of my “busyness” mindset, I don’t want you to get trapped.

Can you spot the busyness in your life?

Four themes emerged from my busyness that you may be experiencing:

  1. You Say You’re Too Busy – this was the number one reason I gave to folks when they asked how I was doing. It’s a horrible answer, to be honest. It got to the point where people would lead with the question “Are you still super-busy?”.
  1. Your Self-Worth Is Wrapped Up in Your Busyness – this may sting a bit, but it’s true. I have often felt that if I wasn’t busy, I must not be doing anything with my life. That is a lie we tell ourselves as well as the world. We need to look beyond our calendars and to-do lists to see who we really are. More than anything, you must like the person looking back at you in the mirror, and you have to realize that your worth is not wrapped up in how busy you are.
  1. You Cannot Say No to Requests – as a recovering people-pleaser, this is the hardest one for me to overcome. The opportunity or request might be good, but is it good for me? This is a tough question to answer. I have said yes too many times in my life (and to too many things) that were good, but not necessarily good for me.
  1. You Are Exhausted – when you have zero breathing room in your calendar, you will inevitably be exhausted. You will start to care less and less about your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being because you just don’t have the bandwidth for these things. This one is the most dangerous of all.

[Tweet “”There is HOPE for the busyness in all of us.” – @DaveAnthold”]

The Solution to Busyness

I am not immune to the trappings of busyness, in fact, it was just within the past six months that I made an intentional decision to change course and kick busyness to the curb. These changes did not happen overnight – you can’t flip a light switch and the change happens. You need to intentionally flip the light switch everyday to help these changes stick.

Here are four ways to overcome your busyness:

  1. Triage Your Calendar – I took a hard look at my calendar and put it under the knife, so-to-speak, and made some strong changes. I took a 30,000 foot approach to my calendar starting at the year level, then the quarter level, then the month level and then finally the week level.

If you are looking for help with this, Michael Hyatt has two great tools for this – the annual time block and the ideal week. If you don’t get a handle on your calendar and put the most important events on to the calendar first, then busyness will tell you what is important.

What does this look like?

My Ideal Week Graphic

The next step is to get your ideal week or year into your calendar program.

  1. Book Appointments with YourselfI am giving you permission to have a meeting with yourself. This is an actual appointment that goes on your calendar and doesn’t get moved unless it is really important (like an emergency). Examples of this can be: spending time learning a new program, reading a book, date night with your spouse, finishing a project and so on.

If someone asks if you are free at that time, you can honestly say NO. The appointment with yourself is just as important as any other meeting on your calendar. This has been the single best way for me to build margin back into my life. It was hard at first not to move the item if someone asked (people-pleaser in me), but once I did it a few times it became second nature.

  1. Say No (Kindly) to Opportunities That Don’t Fit Your Schedule – when you map out your ideal week, month, quarter or year, you have a game plan for moving forward and being successful. For me, I only take meetings on Tuesday and Thursday…this includes my personal calendar as well. I do take meetings on the other days, but those are rare occasions and usually because it works best for the other team members.

On my work calendar, I block out Monday, Wednesday, Friday with an appointment that says No Meetings Accepted Today (see Ideal Week Schedule above) – if someone tries to book a meeting on those days, it shows as busy. Additionally on Tuesday and Thursday, I don’t take meetings before 7am or after 5pm and I always block off my lunch time.

This ensures that I have time for refreshment during the day and prevents me from overloading my schedule. Believe me, I am tired after six-to-ten meetings on a Tuesday or Thursday.

  1. Take A Vacation – we are the worst about taking vacations. Mastercard created a commercial about our unused vacation hours – it was clever.

Mastercard Unused Vacation Video - click the picture to start the video

Personally, I have almost 7 weeks of vacation on the books just waiting for me to use. This year, I blocked out four – one week – vacation slots on my annual calendar. This way I ensure I am building in intentional rest.


There is no doubt that it is easier said then done when it comes to restructuring your life and your calendar. But, I promise you, that if you want to escape busyness and changeit is possible. I have done it!

The first step (like so many) is often the hardest. It took nearly six months to right-size my calendar and build good habits of margin to be successful. Old habits are certainly hard to break, but if you change a little over time, you can succeed!

Question: What ONE new solution are you going to implement this week to help you get out of busyness? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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I help facilities manager and planner create spaces that are backed by research, engage employees of all generations, and drive business objectives. I am also the founder of Dave's Book Club – a once per month reading experience designed to help professionals grow their influence.

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One thought on “How To Spot Busyness In Your Life And Overcome It

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