By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Your to-do list is a mile long.
Every day, you add three things for every one you cross off and you’re starting to resent That List. What’s worse: accommodating everything on the list means there’s no more you for you. In “Breaking Up with Busy” by Yvonne Tally, you’ll see that it’s time for the list to get lost.
You are not having fun.
You’re busy – over-busy, in fact – and while it can be exhilarating and exciting for awhile, it’s also “exhausting.” It affects your personal life, your family, your job, and even your health, as Yvonne Tally learned when busyness led to a panic attack and a trip to the hospital in an ambulance.
She was what she now calls an “OSW,” or an overscheduled woman. Her definition is that an OSW has “Superwoman-like powers” and is “everything from a well-intended problem-solver to a driven and tireless overdeliverer.” You already know that can’t be sustained and, sooner or later, something has to give.
The first step to ridding yourself of the problem is to know the ten signs of needing to “break up with busy” – a list of traits with which most of today’s working women will be familiar. Secondly, remember that being overly busy is a habit that, like many habits, can be altered or eliminated altogether.
Separate needs from wants and know how both relate to goals you’ve set. Learn to “re-wire” your mind to respond to stress and busyness. Stay away from “OSW Traps” that are lurking everywhere on your calendar; they’re “reinforced by the shoulds of life” and can cause you to lose focus. Take advantage of Tally’s quick worksheets, to know what kind of OSW you are, where you stand, and where work is needed. Learn her “Super Solutions Process” for assessing tasks. Be mindful, learn to listen better, and learn to meditate. Deschedule in a way that doesn’t add to your stress. Finally, “count your yessings”; a little two-letter word (“no”) can mean a world of difference.
At one point in “Breaking Up with Busy,” author Yvonne Tally mentions something that absolutely lends urgency to her entire book: your kids learn by example. Is over-stressed and over-scheduled what you want to teach them?
Using case examples that may hit uncomfortably close to home, Tally shows how a packed calendar and no time for one’s self is akin to being bullied. The solution doesn’t appear to be easy and Tally’s ideas can have a whiff of new-agey-ness to them but, while they’re quite commonplace in relation to other books of this kind, her fixes seem usable and sound. The one exception: at least initially, it’s not clear how one is to find time in an overscheduled day to learn to unschedule in order to find time…
Still, for businesswomen who long for ten extra hours in a week, this book can’t hurt; at the very least, it’s a place to start. You might even want to add “Breaking Up with Busy” to the top of your to-do list.