I was driving to work and felt stressed because I had a very busy schedule. But when I reflected on the day ahead, it dawned on me that most of the meetings of the day were with fun people addressing topics that were important to me. Yes, I was busy, but I became aware that what initially felt as an onslaught of obligations, promised to be an inspiring day.

In response to the question “how you doing?” I often get the answer, “I am good, but I am so busy.” The words “I am so busy” seems to be the mantra of our time.

There are different ways in which we can be busy, I call this upbeat busy and downbeat busy. If we are upbeat busy, we are busy with things that excite us, that fire us up. Upbeat busyness brings us in the flow and it feeds us. If we are downbeat busy, our to-do list is often set by others, and we are forced to focus on activities that drain us. Or perhaps the activities don’t drain us intrinsically, but the sheer onslaught of demands may drain us. And if we are honest, the phrase “I am so busy” may have its own reward; it can speak to how we feel needed and how important our work is. And, although we are reluctant to admit it, we sometimes prefer marching to somebody else’s drum than to figure out what is most important to us.

If you are busy, what busyness do you experience? Are you upbeat busy or downbeat busy? If you are downbeat busy you may or may not be able to change your situation; there are times when we simply have too much coming at us and face circumstances beyond our control. But perhaps you have taken on too much. If that is the case, you may want to revisit the newsletter Yes = No. Do you really have to do all that you are doing? What is the reward for doing all these things, and if you balance the reward with the price that you pay, is it worth it? Do you have habits that enhance your feeling of being overwhelmed? You might spend much time telling others how busy you are. (Note the irony of this activity!) Perhaps you are constantly available for email and text messages, this not only keeps us busy and distracted; it also brings us in a mindset of responding to the “needs” of others while ignoring our own priorities. In fact, we may even forget what our priorities are!

How can you direct your busyness towards being upbeat busy? For example, the realization I had on the drive to work allowed me to reframe my sense of busyness. Do you have clarity on your priorities? Do you know which activities nourish you and feed you? Are you willing and able to protect these priorities? You may be in a situation where it is impossible to be upbeat busy, but perhaps you can use your creativity and your fangs to get to being upbeat. It’s worth it!

Roel Snieder

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