Breaking the Silence, and Getting Over “Busy”

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I promised myself I’d never write a post like this.

I said to myself (and my readers) that an “I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while…” post was unacceptable, and unprofessional.

I lied.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. 

The truth is, I’m sorry I haven’t posted, but I’m not sorry about the reasons. And there are many:

  • My freelancing gig picked up — I’m working with a sports ministry, numerous authors, bloggers, and small businesses, and I’ve been busy.
  • I began working for my church part time. I’m doing web design, communications, marketing/graphic design, and other things, and I’ve been busy.
  • I’m trying to launch an “author services” firm; a pseudo-publishing company of sorts, and I’ve been busy.
  • I’m finishing edits on my first novel, and I’ve been busy.
  • I’m writing a nonfiction book to coincide with the launch of Turtleshell Press, and I’ve been busy.
  • My wife and I are getting more involved at church, through things like playing with the band on Sundays and small group meetings, and I’ve been busy.

Ok, I’ll stop there. My point isn’t to prove something, or justify my absence — just to point out that inevitably we’ll go through different seasons of our lives that bring different levels of “busyness.”

There’s the “busy” that means stress, forgotten date nights, disappointed kids, etc.

There’s the “busy” that brings homework, classes, never-ending social gatherings, working late nights, etc.

There’s even the “busy” that means constant gatherings, events, appointments, and parties.

But my “busy” is different:

My current “busy” means that I’m inundated with work that I absolutely love. My “regular” day changes so often, I don’t think I could call it “regular.” I have meetings at church early in the week, meetings at Starbucks with clients or over the phone later in the week, I’m designing videos and slides and posters and cool stuff by day and writing by night.

My wife is excited about my happiness regarding work, and she’s also busy launching a new side project designing handmade tote bags (featuring Disney characters and other fun cartoon stuff — all at a great price! *wink*).

I told her once that I wanted a job that would be so fun, so challenging, and so engaging that she’d have to tear me away from the computer at 2 in the morning to come to bed.

I think I found that job — and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve never been happier in my entire life.

But there’s a trade-off. 

Obviously, there are still only 24 hours in the day, and while I’d love to think that I can somehow create two or three more, I can’t. I haven’t been able to get the writing stuff done I’d planned for this month, due to the increased amount of work I have.

As such, my blogging schedule has all but disappeared, and my book-writing schedule is suffering. My goal is to change that.

I called this post “Getting Over ‘Busy'” (not “Over-busy,” which is way different!) because while I believe this sort of “busy” is the busy everyone should strive for (because it makes you happy, productive, and energized), I still need to take a step back from it.

I could easily get absorbed into this new lifestyle and a few years down the road my marriage could suffer. Or I could easily let something slip (like this blog) for a longer and longer period of time, and everyone knows it’s way harder to start something up again (like a diet) than it is to maintain it.

So here’s the plan. Here’s how I’m getting over “busy:”

  1. Accept it. I’ll continue to praise God for the work, the income, and the happiness, but I need to stop being surprised that a lifestyle like this really is possible, and make it my “standard.” By doing this, I’ll be able to systemize the parts of my days and weeks that take longer, and I’ll be able to take on more fun stuff.
  2. Take more breaks. I’m probably going to start taking “a Sabbath,” which basically just means a mini-sabbatical every week. I’ll start with Sunday, turning off the television, computers, Internet-enabled phone, and just read, write, and enjoy God’s earth. More updates on that soon.
  3. Focus on projects, not tasks. Every project involves tasks, but no task should be “project-less.” At my previous job, I was a task-focused machine, popping out “completes” and “dones” like nobody’s business. The Project, of course, was to help the company succeed — a worthy effort, to be sure, but one that proved to be more difficult that self-created projects and goals. Now, I create most of my own short- and long-term projects, and it’s up to me to see them through to completion. Rather than focusing on the daily tasks, I need to remind myself of the “end goal” each time — because that’s the thing that motivates and excites me.
  4. Give thanks. To God, to the people around me, to clients — I need to thank the people who have enabled me, supported me, and continue to believe in me. Also, I need to thank the people who (positively) criticize me and my work — they are the ones who most powerfully help me grow.
  5. Keep setting Big, Audacious, Goals. BAGs and the questions that lead to them are what got me here: “Could I start blogging and gain enough traction to quit my full-time job?” “Could I launch a publishing services firm that really helps authors and makes a difference?” “Would people actually pay me to design cool stuff for them?” These are real questions that led to real goals that led to real results, and I’m going to do more of it.

The things I haven’t mentioned (eating right, working out, reading, etc.) aren’t there because I think they won’t change no matter what my “busy” definition is. These 5 things I’ve mentioned though are the important and relevant things to me, right now. They’ll change over time, but as long as my “busy” is the fun kind, these are the 5 keys to my continued “busyness.”

What about you? What kind of “busy” are you?

And most importantly, what steps are you taking to stay at that type of “busy” (or move to another one)?

Leave a comment below, and let’s get this thing going!

Nick ThackerBreaking the Silence, and Getting Over “Busy”
  • Monica Carter Tagore

    I love that you included “give thanks” in this list. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the full life and forget that having so many interesting things going on can be a good thing. Often we want the things we get, but because they all happen at the same time, we begin to feel the burden and not the blessing. 

    I believe giving thanks can help us all to remember that we have a pretty good thing going, when we do enjoy our busy lives. Giving thanks can also keep us in touch with the fact that those good things can be taken away, and so we must treasure them. Easier said than done when things are hectic, I know, but important.

    • http://www.livehacked.com/ Nick Thacker

      Hi Monica!

      Thanks for the comment — giving thanks is something that I don’t always stop to remember to do, but it’s an important thing for me to focus on. You’re right, easier said than done, but always worthwhile!

      Talk to you soon!
      Nick 

  • http://twitter.com/jessicaburde Jessica Burde

    My busy is a mixof what you are dealing with and the stress-busy of young child, disabled partner, not enough income. The big thing I’ve needed to change to cope with my ‘busy-ness’ has been time management (and as an aside, many thanks for the post on free time tracking apps I dug out of your archive a few weeks ago – been a game changer.) Being aware of what I am getting done and what still has to be done, makes it amazingly easier to cope when a work day disappears into teething tantrums of emergency doctors visits.

    I like your list of five things to change. The two that jumped out at me are a Sabbath and project-focus – one that is a center part of my weeks and one that I am just now trying to do.

    I don’t keep the strict religious Sabbath the rest of my family does, but having one day a week where my to-do list is empty has been a major blessing. It’s a chance to rest not just in the sense of taking a break, but also ‘stopping to smell the roses’. As much as I love my work – I don’t want to forget the rest of life. Sabbath is a chance to stop and revel in just being alive.

     Focusing on projects is a somewhat new idea for me (started working on it over the past week) so far it’s been good, we’ll see what time brings.

    • http://www.livehacked.com/ Nick Thacker

      Hi Jessica! 

      Thanks for the awesome comment — glad to hear I’ve got a fellow Sabbather!

      Cheers,
      Nick 

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  • Liesel Hill

    I’m this good kind of busy about half the time. I’m still working a full time job that I don’t particularly love, but I’m hoping to change that soon. when I’m not working, all my other time is spent on my other writing/blogging/promoting stuff, which I love! So…it’s kind of a toss-up for me. What a great post, though. Thanks for it! :D

    • http://www.livehacked.com/ Nick Thacker

      I know how that feels, and it’s definitely good to see the “good kind of busy” in whatever it is you’re doing (it helps you stay sane). 

      Thanks for the comment!
      Nick 

  • http://www.facebook.com/terilynneu Teri Lynne Underwood

    Great post, Nick!  Over the past year I’ve invested myself if choosing the embrace the cycle of busy and rest.  By intentionally allowing—and even learning to love—those seasons of busy, I’ve found myself more energized and more productive.  The hardest part for me was learning to intentionally allow—and love—the sabbath season that follows.  But, as I have retrained my body and mind to rest, I’m finding myself less captivated by the “shiny things” that distract from intentional living.  I may write less but I write better.  I may do less but what I do is more rewarding. I  say, “No,” far more often.  Living a full life, I’m finding, is less about what I’ve done on any given day and more about what I’ve done (and left undone!) over time.  For me, I’m finding freedom in that reality.

    • http://www.livehacked.com/ Nick Thacker

      I like this — you’re finding yourself less “captivated by the shiny things…” Awesome!

      That’s a long-term goal for me as well, but I do love those shiny things!