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@HEARDinLONDON #blog

How to unsubscribe from the cult of "too busy"

Updated: Apr 11

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 49




We've all got too much on our plates, right? Too much in our heads, too much to hold, too much to do, too much work, too much stuff to get through, too many tabs open in our brain all of the time.

I think that this is part of the modern-day condition, but also the thought that we're really prone to you telling ourselves. How many times do you meet up with a friend and you're like, how's it going and their first response, or your first response is, “I’m really busy.” or “I’ve been really busy”. or “I’ve been doing these things”. Not how are you right now? Not how are you going? How are you doing emotionally? “These are the things that I've done”.


We use the things that we have got through to be the markers of who we are, rather than really telling people how we are. And that's quite important because when we are having these conversations with ourselves too, we can really use that marker of how many things that I have got through to determine how well we're allowed to feel or how we should feel about things.

I've been really noticing lately how much I have to work against the idea of someone asking me how my day was, and me not saying, “oh, I got a lot done today” and marking how many things I have achieved as the decider as to whether it has been a good day or a bad day.

And the reason why I wanted to talk about the idea of overwhelm feeling like a habit rather than something that we are all trapped under the burden of in the latter stages of capitalism. I just wanted you to possibly explore the idea that some of the things that we tell ourselves about overwhelm are making us feel more exhausted. When you're repeating, when I'm repeating, when we're all repeating, “I’m too busy”, “there's so much to do”, “I’ve got such a lot on”, “I don't know how I'm going to get through this”. What this creates is quite a lot of stress, possibly some anxiety, possibly doesn't help you sleep very well, possibly gets you all worked up about how you're going to get everything done and leads to a lot of indecisiveness. And all of those things are real time sucks. They're the little gobblers in pacman that eat away the 5 minutes here, the 15 minutes there. And then suddenly we've got less time and more things to do because we didn't get on with this thing in the first place. And we start feeling like we have even more on our plate, but now we're beating ourselves up for the fact that we just wasted that time.

So I don't know, maybe we just need to make ourselves feel a little bit better by spending 15 minutes scrolling on Instagram, for example, for some inspirational memes. Whatever your distraction of choice is, suddenly we've got less time again.


And all of these distractions, these actions to get away from this feeling of sick and constraint and criticism stems from that thought of “I’m too busy”, “I’ve got too much to do”, “I don't know how I'm going to get through all of this”. And actually we can navigate around that by just checking in. You may have a lot of things to do, but is that thought serving you? Is that sort useful? Is that thought, frankly, giving you any more time? Or is it, and I suspect this might be more true, just making you feel shit and just making you feel like you need to escape from all of the things.

We are all so busy that we could frankly cut ourselves a little bit of slack and gain some time back, just by not being such arsreholes to ourselves about the amount that we're holding at the moment. And in amongst stopping being mean to ourselves magically as the secret gift that this also gives us, is more of our time back. So maybe you might get through a few more things, but frankly also maybe you might just have some more time to rest and relax and do the fun stuff that you want to be doing.


This is the way that we can try and undermine overwhelm as a lifestyle choice, and just sort of I made the New Year's resolution some years ago, inspired by a friend of mine called Pippa, that my New Year's resolution was going to be to unsubscribe from the cult of “too busy”. And it has been one of the best life choices that I have ever made and I invite you to do the same.


So I hope that this has been a useful way to give you some more minutes back in your world and I hope that you spend them doing things that are absolutely frivolous and joyful.

Please do take care of yourselves. I'll speak to you next week.

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