Busy is Not Better: Slow Down

Think about the last time you ran into a friend you haven’t seen in a while. When you asked how they have been there is a strong possibility they answered, “Good, just busy.” That seems to be a common response in our society – everyone is busy.

Often it appears that we prize packing our schedules to keep us chasing the day. While it is fun to have things to do, we seem to value the hustle, grind, and living with no margin.

Where does all this busyness come from? Who decided being busy is better? 

The Downside of Busy

Living too busy can put us on the edge of burn out and make our days feel stressed and frazzled. It can also make it hard to dream beyond the day and consider our broader goals and future plans. 

I have also noticed that when my days are jam packed and busy I may do a lot of different things but I don’t necessarily do a lot of things well. Mistakes are made, important comments are missed, context is overlooked, or I don’t fully embrace each moment.

Busy dilutes my impact and effectiveness – so in this season I choose to live with simplicity.

Full Days vs. Busy Days

I recognize that may feel laughable to those that don’t know me well and only watch the highlight reel unfold on social media or through my blog. It may seem that I am the busiest of them all – blogging, encouraging others through Mornin’ Motivations, working for New Hope Girls, grad school, investing in my family, traveling – but don’t let that fool you. My days are full but not busy – I do believe there is a distinction.

Full days have an energetic pace and an exciting rhythm, which I love. But I don’t like the breakneck speed of being busy. In past seasons, I was always late to meetings because they were booked back to back. Or, I was racing in to pick my kids up, on the edge of being late, because there were too many demands on my days. That is the busy I don’t want to be. 

I want my day to feel full of the things that are most important or that I enjoy. I also want my days to have space for thinking clearly, having fun, and being fully present with my family. When my days are too busy and I’m pulled in too many directions those wonderful things don’t happen.

The Sweet Side of Simplicity

Let me be clear, simplicity does not mean your schedule comes to a screeching halt. Rather, it means you leave room to breathe and are intentional in the way you fill your time.

Simplifying our schedules can help us better enjoy each and every day. For example, dinnertime is so much sweeter when my days aren’t overly busy. It feels less chaotic and my mind is able to really focus on what my husband and kids are saying.

When my days are simple I also better listen to myself. I am more in tune with emotions and the fluctuation of feelings throughout the day. Which means, I am better at coping and course correcting if I find myself slipping into a negative space. When things aren’t noisy with activity I have the space to really hear the quiet parts of myself.

From a faith perspective, a simplified schedule leave me ample time for considering what God is asking of me and where He is leading me next. I have room for devotionals, journals, and focused prayer. This most important priority has space when I’m careful to not overwhelm my schedule.

Simply Practical

There are very practical and small ways we can lean into simplified days!

Say no to something you could do – but don’t have to – even if you have nothing better going on. The first time you may feel guilty but I promise it gets easier and is freeing!

Go for a walk with your family so you can literally take time to stop and smell the roses or listen to the birds.

Pause your evening to sit with your friends or family and enjoy a meal at home, where everyone eats at the same time.  

We can use periods of stillness and quiet to consider the best parts of your day, to evaluate the challenges we are facing, and to be more intentional with the days to come.

Put boundaries around your workday schedule where you insist on 30 minutes between meetings or no more than a certain number of meetings per day.

Join Me in the Simplicity

Will you join me and fight the current of “too busy” and choose to slow down and simplify? It can feel unnerving at first. When I started intentionally simplifying my schedule it was unfamiliar. 

If you are eager to slow down, but still feel unsure of what that can look like, I suggest reading A Simplified Life by Emily Ley. I read it years ago and have re-read it since. She touches on so much more than how we spend our time and is full of practical wisdom and tips. 

Stick with it and you will soon find that slowing down provides the framework to live with more intention and joy.

3 responses to “Busy is Not Better: Slow Down”

  1. Gary Schirr Avatar

    Great advice – powerful coming from someone who accomplishes so much!

    Thanks Caitlyn!

    1. Caitlyn Scaggs Avatar

      Thank you, Gary! I’m really learning this lesson more and more. As I’m sure you can imagine, there are roles/seasons where a measured pace is near impossible. But if it is up to me – I’m choosing simple with lots of space for the people I love most! I hope you are enjoying retirement – despite the recent set back – and that sweet Grandson of yours.

  2. Elizabeth Coulson Avatar
    Elizabeth Coulson

    It was very hard at first saying “no”! The guilt is real! But after a bit it became easier and did increase my quality of life. Thank you for the reminder and fantastic advice as always!!! You always help!

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