The toxic nature of chronic busyness is like carbon monoxide: you can’t see it coming, and you may not smell it sneaking up on you, but you better be able to detect when it’s in the air.

Sure, it’s natural for you to have a full life juggling your career and time with friends and family. But at some point (probably around the time of having real bills to pay), being busy all the time became the new norm.

“Oh, I’m so busy with work.”

“I’ve been busy with the kids.”

“Work is so busy, I have no time to go to the doctor.”

“Sorry, I can’t meet up. My schedule is too busy.”

“I meant to respond to your email, but I’ve been so busy with stuff.”

Yup, we’re all guilty of saying these things.  And it may very well be true, but when did it become so acceptable?

One day you’re in school with summers that lasted longer than watching the Titanic with commercials. Next thing you know, you’ve been working nonstop since your first “real” job and can’t remember what you had for dinner two days ago.

If you’re so busy that your life is one big blur, then you’re not in control. Busyness is controlling you.  (Click to Tweet)

I can tell you this is the point when being busy can become toxic. It can make you think you have no time to take care of yourself, yet your body is begging for attention. It can make you think you have no time to start your passion project, yet you spend more time than you care to admit mindlessly looking on social media.

Always saying that you’re busy gives you the illusion that you’re making progress,

but the truth is you’re the proverbial hamster on a wheel.

You have a million and one thoughts pushing their way into your head like a crowd at Best Buy on Black Friday. Sure, it’s hard to focus on your goals when the only time you really have to think is in the bathroom — even if that’s where some of your best ideas are born (Or is that just me?)

Over the past five years, I’ve been chronically busy: Stressing over work politics, feeling stuck, feeling inspired, building a business, moving (twice), getting married, going through life roller coasters, and emotionally eating my way through the madness.

Of course, all of these times were not bad, (I love inspiring people to embrace their brand and my wedding day was truly the best day ever). But still, it’s a lot.  I wasn’t doing a good job managing it all, although I thought I was “pushing through.” What was I doing? Gaining weight, losing sleep, and getting further away from treating myself kindly.

I lost sight of one very important detail: my core priorities.

My top three core priorities are having a healthy lifestyle, keeping close to my family and core friends, and being able to fuel my creativity. If anything disrupts those areas in my life, I’m not my best. I’m now getting back to taking back my time, and it feels MUCH better (not to mention I can now fit into clothes I haven’t worn in years!). But the process is not easy and takes effort every single day to remember.

You see, the key to making your “busy” less toxic is saying “no” a lot more to others and saying “yes” a lot more to yourself.

What are your top three priorities? Are you being true to what makes you happy?

You may think you can’t take things off your schedule or add time for yourself, but what if you had no choice? What if you were forced to give up some things?

You would realize that everything is not a priority. If the things that take up energy in your life make you soooo busy that you don’t have any time left for yourself, they are potentially toxic.

And I’m not just talking about the obvious things like negative people or work stress. I’m talking about the things that creep up on you like overbooking your social calendar, saying yes to things you don’t want to do, and volunteering your time when you don’t have much to give.

These are the true time suckers that drain you more than you know. Sure you want to be a good friend and not seem like a flake by not attending an event. Or, you’re a hard worker so you take on more than you can chew on the job. But all of these things add up, and are the perfect recipe for a nuclear breakdown.

I challenge you to be mindful of how you use the word “busy” to describe your life. For me, it’s now a four letter word that I choose to not use anymore (sure there’s more noble four letter words I can give up , but eh, don’t judge me).

There’s a huge freedom in changing your mindset to commit to slowing down and making time to do the things that fuel you. Don’t you think you deserve the same time and dedication you give to everyone else? Because if you’re not feeling right, you can’t operate at your best no matter how hard you push.

Set aside time to take care of your needs. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and make you laugh daily. You can still make time for yourself and be a good wife, husband, friend, daughter, son, colleague, intrapreneur, entrepreneur, the list goes on. You’ll find that you can get more accomplished when you make the time to focus on what you really need to do.

Tagged: career advice, personal development, self-care

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Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Writer + Personal Brand Strategist, Founder at MGC Ink
Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over ten years' experience climbing through top corporate and government brands as a writer and trainer, her passion is inspiring professionals to dare mediocrity.
Marietta Gentles Crawford
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