Don’t be impressed with busy-ness. Be impressed with intention.

Don't be impressed by busy-ness. Be impressed by intention.

 So many of us wear our busy-ness like a badge of honour.

“Ugh,” we sigh. “I’m just so busy. I’m so tired. I never feel like I’m finished and there’s no time for things I enjoy and I never have down-time and everyone always wants something from me.”

This is code for:

“I am important. You should be impressed.”

And you know what? You are important. But not because you’re constantly busy and tired and over-committed.

What I find impressive is someone who’s intentional in how they spend their time. Someone who doesn’t say yes to everything and complain about being busy. Someone who says no, even if they’re saying no to me. I find that impressive.

Impressive in the sense that it makes an impression on me.

“Huh,” I say, as though it’s a new idea that people can say no.

Maybe they don’t have time, or maybe they don’t want to, but when they say no it feels more honest and authentic and intentional than saying yes to everything and then bitching about how busy they are, or saying yes and doing a half-arsed job.

Part of the reason we are overwhelmed with life but find it difficult to change is because those changes are uncomfortable.

It’s uncomfortable to sort through your cluttered home and let go of the excess.

It’s uncomfortable to decide which sentimental items are no longer serving you, and it’s uncomfortable letting them go.

It’s uncomfortable to revisit your priorities and realise that the way you’re living is not in keeping with the life you want to look back on.

It’s uncomfortable saying no.

Uncomfortable doesn’t mean undesirable though.

Having a clutter-free home is worth it. Not feeling the weight of those heavy sentimental items is worth it. Readjusting your life to fit with your priorities is worth it. And saying no? Absolutely worth it.

Please don’t mistake what I’m saying.

You can be both busy and intentional. Being busy isn’t really the problem. I personally like being busy – to a point. I also really like down-time and the fact that this weekend I spent two hours in the hammock reading comics.

But how do we say no?

Start by understanding what you want from your life. Knowing your Why helps you say no and keep your priorities front and centre when there are tough decisions to be made.

Then commit to living by your Why. Ask yourself whether this commitment, this responsibility, this event, this piece of furniture or item of clothing is going to help you live according to your Why, or if it is going to take you further away.

Don’t put your self-worth in busy-ness. Don’t fall for the myth that constant action equals importance. Don’t buy into the endless game of busy-ness and martydom because no-one wins.

Instead choose to live your life with intention and make an impression on yourself.



18 Responses to Don’t be impressed with busy-ness. Be impressed with intention.

  1. Thanks for the excellent reminder Brooke. I’ve had to learn how NOT to be a frenetic multi-tasker and be more intentional. I’ve been trying the Pomodoro technique that I think I heard you mention. I’m getting things done but not feeling wired or completely out of control.

  2. Bang on, Brooke. I’ve stopped listening too much to the “I’m so busy people”. If I invite you to visit, have coffee or lunch, a simple yes or no will suffice instead of a listing of what keeps you sooooo busy. If you are too busy to fit me into your schedule, so be it. I am trying to live a life of balance for what needs to be done in practical areas (housework, errands) and what needs to be done to replenish my heart and soul (time with friends and family, writing, hobbies and quiet time). I hope you have much luck with your new group, The Bloom, and I will see you around the FB Annual Declutter Challenge page.

    • Thanks so much, Cathy! I’ll certainly still be around the FB group too.

      And I agree with you completely. I think people feel like they owe an explanation as to why they can’t make a social engagement or invitation, when honestly, it’s OK if you just say no thanks.

  3. I knew I was wanting to slow down when I became resentful of people always telling me how busy they are. I get it. I quietly high five myself these days when I get the things done that were making me feel ‘busy’, and guess what? They never take me as long as I imagined, and I manage to find some sneaky time for myself every day. Who knew that was even possible? Intent is such a powerful word, and when you start to really use it in your day to day life, a little bit of magic can and does happen. x

  4. Nailed it, Shelley! And I always know it’s time to make some changes when resentment weasels its way into my brain.

    Here’s to a little bit of magic everyday! x

  5. I couldn’t agree more! I understand people who have “busy” type careers, which take up a lot of time. But I am driven CRAZY by the people who create their own busy-ness. Particularly parents who complain / brag about how busy their kids are. Sorry, I’m not impressed by your ability to overschedule your kids until they are so exhausted that they fall asleep during dinner!

    • I am so with you!! I live in a suburb where parents seem to thrive on being busy with their kids’ activities.

  6. I just quit my job because of extreme burnout due to the crazy. While there was a huge dose of commitment due to chronic illness with my kids over 7 years that assisted in this, there was significant cause from feeling guilty that I had to have such an alternate schedule at work to accommodate my kids’ illness that I found that I couldn’t say, “no” to anything eventhough I was compensating in many other ways and my bosses were more than satisfied. So, I proceeded to run myself into the ground. And, here I am and my number one project in getting myself out of this is learning to say “no” in most parts of my life. A timely post…as I begin this journey to balance :) Thanks!

  7. So true Brooke, it’s normal in our society to be seen to be busy. Somehow, having no free time is increasingly seen as a badge of honour and I can’t work out why.

    It’s so easy to be caught up in the wave of saying yes. Say yes more, help others out…leaving no time for us to look after ourselves.

    I love what you say in this post. Saying no is brave but it shouldn’t have to be.

    We should stop feeling bad about saying no. It gives us the opportunity to focus 100% on the projects we’re fascinated by, and to say yes to a select few that we can give our whole attention, the attention any project deserves.

    Thank you for this article! :-)

    Thanks for this article Brooke!

  8. Thanks for the reminder to “know your why”. Otherwise, decluttering and changing things in life can be a meaningless search for fulfillment in itself. On the other hand, however, sometimes things only become clearer when the trees thin out … love your blog!

  9. […] recently read a wonderful post on Brooke McAlary’s SlowYourHome blog called “Don’t be impresed with busy-ness. Be impressed with intention”. Brooke talks about the fact that we’re so focused on busy-ness that it can detract from our […]

  10. Sal’s comment resonates with me. What I find most impressive is the people in control of their lives, not the ones that simply “keep up” with them. It’s admirable, of course, but if you can dictate your schedule or at least say “no” to certain requests of your time, that shows true discipline.