When Life is Running You

March 14, 2016 - 6 minutes read

Busy street with car lights streaming past

“I’m busy.”

It’s a common response these days, one that I’ve said many times myself. I noticed another variation on this response from my clients when it came time to check in on the progress of their goals: “I’ve been too busy to complete the tasks that I committed to.”

As a life coach and yoga teacher, I support people in breaking through roadblocks in order to realize their full potential and to create a life they love. However, it’s up to the individual to do the work. I wondered, why would anyone be too busy to realize their full potential and live a happy life?

Are you running your life or is life running you?

I get it, we are very busy. It seems to be an acceptable way of life, with many of us struggling to keep up with the pace of going to work, taking care of children and extended family, running errands, scheduling time with friends, finding time for exercise and relaxation. What about having fun and being spontaneous? Let me check my calendar to see when I can fit that in.

Our time is sacred and it’s not something we can take back once it’s passed so we better make the most of it. Here’s three tips to prevent ourselves from ending up exhausted and losing ourselves in an endless to-do task list while life passes us by.

Work colleagues sitting at a table

1. Notice what you are spending your time on

Grab a notebook, open your calendar and for one week, really pay attention to what you are spending your time on. Before you say “this is just another thing for my to-do list,” keep reading. Often we don’t think about what we’re doing, we just do it because we think we have to. On Monday morning, take two minutes to look ahead and notice how much of your week is dedicated to “me time,” then slot in one hour for yourself to do something alone that really pleases you – it’s a date with yourself.

On Sunday evening, take 10-15 minutes to reflect back over your week and to write down how much time you spent on each major activity; work, family, errands, exercise, relaxation, and mindless activity; TV, internet, checking social media etc. Have you really been that busy or have you been wasting time? You may be surprised at what comes up. For the following week, schedule another date with yourself and commit to cutting out at least 30 minutes of mindless activity.

2. Be productive instead of busy

There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. To be productive, I believe it’s better to have fewer goals that are prioritized in order of importance, rather than having many goals with no order. Once you begin to rank your goals and tasks and commit to completing only the important ones in a given day or week, you have intention behind your actions and you will notice the less important ones start to fall away. Instead of repeatedly deferring the less important tasks to ‘tomorrow’ then feeling guilty that you didn’t complete them, just let them go. For example, do you really need to answer work emails at night while you are watching TV?

3. Put yourself first by doing nothing

For two minutes a day, do absolutely nothing! When we take away all of the things that require our attention and time, what’s left is the self. Get to know yourself through meditation, a practice provided for you below.

The Practice

Sit up tall with a straight spine, bring your awareness to your belly and allow it to soften and relax. Begin with a slow, deep inhalation for a count of three, filling your belly, then ribcage, then upper chest with oxygen. Pause for second, then exhale from your upper chest, rib cage then belly, drawing your belly in towards your spine at the end. Pause again, then repeat.

A few cycles of this can instantly change your mood, increase your focus and help you to relax.

We may feel good when we’re busy because we’re needed, we’re completely booked and in demand almost every hour of every day. However, there comes a time when being so busy has a cost associated to it—the risk of missing out on the simple pleasures in life and a feeling that time is passing you by. When you commit to yourself, to choose how you spend your time with intention, you will start to feel like you are in charge of your life, instead of it running you.