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Too Busy to Breathe

Is being busy as productive as you think?

If you ever said, wow, I wish I had the time to write my book, but I’m too busy, it’s time to stop.  

Listen in during any cocktail party (either online or in person), and you will often hear the lament of the crazy/super busy.  But super busy is false modesty.  We want to be busy.  Busy has a curious appeal. In our culture, being busy is not only honored but also supported and reinforced – think of the clickbait coming at you every day: 

Top Five Fast Recipes for Busy Families

How Busy People Get More Done

Quick Makeup Tips for Busy Women (you clicked on that one, didn’t you?).  

The problem for us is busy has drawbacks. I’ve witnessed business partners and clients work so hard and are so busy they end up doing, then undoing, then re-doing the same tasks, endlessly re-creating the same idea into slightly different iterations, never making any real progress except to be busy.  This then gives rise to the second most common lament – “I’m so busy, but I never seem to get anything done.”

Busy is fashionable, it’s a look. It is also a frantic, unsustainable way to live – you know this, but how is it even possible to slow down when there are so many obligations pulling you in seven different directions?

Take a few minutes and consider what exactly are the main activities that fuel your super busy day.  Journaling or just writing on the back of a Costco receipt will help.

Write down everything that makes you feel crazy busy:

·      Work projects

·      Household chores

·      Family obligations

·      Your wonderful busy children

·      (Netflix binges do not count)

What are the goals, and what are the real goals for these activities?

·      Earn money or achieve career advancement?

·      A clean house or a perfect house?

·      Happy children or Instagram children?

Once you are clear on the real goals, re-consider the busy part of the day.

What can you ease up on? 

·      Are all the work projects equally critical?

·      Can you accept the work of your team without lurching forward and “fixing” it?

·      Do you need a Pinterest living room or one that is comfortable?

·      Are the children happy, do they still love all their activities?

Instead of chores, perfection, or projects, what would you like to do instead?  It could be writing your book, but it also could be an afternoon sitting still and listening to the birds.

Busy creates its own FOMO closed loop. Is super busy the hamster wheel you want to run on?  Or could you answer, my day was fulfilling, I worked on a long-term project, I hiked with the children, and we enjoyed a screen-free evening.

Take a few minutes and detach from your endless To-Do list. Relish a few minutes of calm, even quiet.  Allow this space to feed ideas and reveal what is really worth your time and attention.

I’d say more, but you’re busy.


Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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