It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a busy schedule. In fact, when we tell other people we’re busy, it’s just a way to validate ourselves and make ourselves sound or feel important. To say you’re busy has almost become an automated response in small talk conversations.
Sure, we’re busy. We all have shit going on, but come on. Let’s get better at what we say. I promise, things in your life will start changing when you come up with better conversation material than, “Yeah, I’m busy.” Be excited to share something. Be interested in learning more about what your friend or co-worker is doing these days.
It forces us to ask the question: what’s the right amount of grind? How busy should you aim to be?
How Busy Is Too Busy?
The right amount of the busy is the kind where you’re moving everything forward and feeling good about the direction you’re headed, but not so busy to where you have lost sight of what’s in front of you.
Whether you’re already training and ramping up your online business or you’re working a non-fitness job and planning to build your fitness brand, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Some of you might also have families to take care of. Some of you might have school to attend. Some of you have some other bullshit you’re dealing with that isn’t either one of these. Life happens and it often gets in the way.
That’s why the right amount of busy is the kind where you’re fulfilled with what you’re doing and still making all your ends meet—but you don’t feel guilty about not doing enough. If you do feel guilty that you’re not doing enough, sit down and assess a few things. Do you feel this way because you feel that you aren’t putting your best foot forward? Because you’re watching more Netflix than spending time trying to build your business? Are you waiting for the door to open, as we used to call it during my membership sales days at 24 Hour Fitness, or are you going out and making it happen?
If you feel guilt over not doing enough, chances are it’s because in your heart you know you could be doing more.
How to Best Maximize Your Time
Let’s say you assess your time and you know that you’re grinding. You’re working two jobs, taking a class, raising a family, and trying to get your business up and running because that’s the dream. You want to maximize the time you do have, you want to know where to best spend your efforts, and you’re experimenting with different avenues to narrow down the best outlets.
When we evaluate what it means to be too busy, we have to first evaluate how we feel about what we’re doing. If we know we can do more, it’s about reprioritizing our time.
I know we all feel like we’re so tired that there isn’t possibly a way to do more, but the honest answer is, there is—you just have to change the activities you’re doing with the limited amount of time you have.
Instead of spending three hours watching mindless TV and scrolling through social media, read for 30 minutes, do your mobility work for 30 minutes, and then devote 30 minutes to continuing your education. You still have a leftover 90 minutes for mindless TV and scrolling social media if you want, but you also got three steps closer to the goals you actually care about. Soon you’ll begin seeing progress, and that progress will excite you to want to do even more.
We all want to wake up one day and simply be motivated to write those programs, do that extra stretching session, read that book. But the fact is, we will never just wake up that way one day. We have to create windows, we have to put effort in, and even then it’s still not easy. But we have to keep pushing forward if it’s what we want. So when it comes to being busy, I don’t hate having a full schedule of purposeful activities with my time. I hate when my schedule is empty and I have nothing to show for it.
At the end of the day, the amount of busy you can handle is up to you. Not everyone has the same bandwidth. We have to get over the idea of comparing our efforts to someone else’s. All we can do is be fulfilled by our own standards. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Try Productivity Blocks
One thing that has helped me with my ability to be better with my time has been to build in what I call productivity blocks. I’ve often found myself sitting down for a certain window of time to work on something, only to find that my mind couldn’t give a shit about what I was actually trying to focus on. Instead my mind tried to find anything else to think about. I’m sure this sounds familiar to you, and it can be wildly frustrating.
While it’s important to build the skill of sitting down and not getting distracted by things like our phones, nearby colleagues or social media, I am a big believer in making it easy to be successful, especially in the beginning.
So rather than sitting down at the coffee shop and saying to yourself, “I have to finish this article in this specific window of time,” create a bigger window of time for yourself and say, “You have the option of X, Y, or Z. Doesn’t matter what you do in that window, but it has to be one of or a mixture of those three things.”
When I used this tactic, it took the pressure off of trying to knock something out when my brain just wasn’t capable of being in that state. I don’t know about a lot of you, but I wasn’t good at the typical school system that most of us were raised in. I never learned to study. I made it through by talking and thinking on my feet.
As an adult, I got better at working in my productivity blocks and I was able to develop a better ability at sitting down to work on specific ideas or chunks. At the same time, it gave me the freedom to know that if inspiration didn’t show up in the exact moment I wanted it to, finding something else to work on to move the needle forward made me feel less anxiety and guilt about my productivity. In the end, I actually felt less busy.
Being able to take ownership over my time better and understanding what I do with it never makes me feel like I am too busy. Don’t get me wrong, I do a ton of stuff with my time, but I do it because I choose too, and I understand that I can choose to do something else at any time. I just have to be okay with those outcomes that will come from that.
Not everyone operates at the same pace but we can all fall forward. Arrange your time wisely and adopt the right amount of busy.