You Don’t Need To Be Busy All the Time

It is hard to have a conversation with—well, anyone—without some mention of the number of tasks they have on their plate and how much they wish they did not need to do All The Things and the dread of More Things to come and by the way how is your Personal Brand Of Overachieving doing, anyway?

But here’s the truth: You don’t need to be busy all the time.

It is okay to not be constantly overextended. You are not inferior because you are doing less. Relaxed About Life is an acceptable state of being. You do not need to feel guilty because you want to enjoy a slow-paced existence.

Woman sits alone on a dock overlooking the water. Text reads: You don't need to be busy all the time.

What Does This Look Like in Practice?

For the most part, our family lives in relative simplicity, and I consider this a worthy achievement. This might seem surprising given that we are an active duty military family, moving every few years, dealing with deployments, raising three kids, homeschooling multiple grades, and traveling frequently. We have a lot going on that outsiders might look at and say “I don’t know how you do it.” Simple does not equal easy. But our day-to-day lifestyle feels un-rushed and un-complicated. 

I do not engage in activities I don’t love just because I feel like I should. I prefer to choose fewer pursuits that are more meaningful. But the truth is, even when I feel immersed and productive and occupied, I’m not necessarily getting more done—I’m just spinning faster.

We intentionally have lots and lots of breathing room in our lives. Oh, we still Do The Things. But, we are extremely selective about what makes it into our routine.

Quite honestly, our unhurried homeschooling schedule is pretty sweet. We don’t mind staying close to home most days, and we like the steady rhythm of our days. Our general rule before adding any regular event to our calendar is to ask, is this activity worth disrupting our week?

This is an anomaly in a world where non-stop busy-ness is worn like a badge of honor. I’m not saying what we’re doing is better. I’m saying many people forget they have options.

White woman with blond hair in a bun sitting on a comforter looking away and drinking a cup of red tea. Text reads: Relaxed about life is an acceptable state of being, busy-ness is not a badge of honor.

Is Leading a Relaxed Life a Privilege?

The short answer is: Yes.

I am acutely aware of how fortunate we are to be able to orchestrate this lifestyle. My husband is our sole income provider and I am our primary childcare provider and home educator and this works out well both financially and logistically.

I must acknowledge how privileged it is to be able to say, we choose to do this or we choose to not do this when our family dynamics are what they are.

I’m not saying what we’re doing is better. I’m saying many people forget they have options. Click To Tweet

I realize some folks truly do not have a choice. People for whom “busy” is a way of surviving—the ones working two or three jobs, raising kids without a partner or family support, taking care of aging parents, juggling childcare, just trying to make ends meet and get by.

Let’s be honest, though: for most people, you don’t need to be busy all the time. Having too much to do is a privilege. A self-imposed, too many good choices, take advantage of every opportunity, can’t say no, luxury. People confuse I have to with I get to. We whine about having too many extracurricular activities to choose from, and then expect empathy for our purposely over-scheduled lives.

“I need to simplify my life!” is an extremely privileged complaint.

Of course, I am not trying to imply it is impossible to choose simplicity unless your life is relatively carefree and basic necessities are not a worry. But, it certainly doesn’t hurt. I am also not going to argue the merits of individual activities and schedules, or suggest that everyone needs to personally go all minimalist.

I just want to lend a voice to the {apparent} minority who do not over-schedule, do not stress fitting it all in, and do not mind the silence—all while being cognizant of the circumstances that make such “choices” possible. 

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    It seems like you’ve got it all covered.

    I do think it’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the things we think we have to do.

    I try to make time to switch off each day x

    1. Avatar

      The key there is the things we *think* we have to do. I find that list is often way longer than the list of things I *actually* have to do. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  2. Avatar
    Rebecca Reid

    I whole-heartedly agree! I’ve occasionally been told I’m lazy, but honestly, I work hard, I just make it a point to be choosy about what I put on my plate because having down time is important to me. I love that you pointed out that whining about how busy we are is a very privileged complaint, and your point about “confusing I have to with I get to” is an great way to put things into perspective. I doubt I would have realized this on my own!

    As a side note, it never occurred to me before how perfect homeschooling is for families that move around a lot. It must make things SO much easier! No new schools, no new teachers, no drastic changes in routine. It must make things a lot easier on your kids, and provide a comforting sense of consistency in a life full of so many changes!

    1. Avatar

      Being choosy about what you choose to engage with is a form of self-care and absolutely necessary. Don’t let anyone make you feel “lazy” for being selective. I love when we have exceptionally quiet weeks, and I never feel like we are missing out.

      And, that is pretty much exactly why we decided to homeschool. My husband is active duty and with his schedule and the frequent moves, we needed something where we could have control over our calendar and routine.

  3. Avatar

    This is so true! Sometimes we get so caught up in wanting to seem important/busy, when in reality it is sometimes better not be that way.

    I know I personally have an issue with not over scheduling myself and have to remind myself to take a breather and just stay home.

    Thanks for writing this 🙂

    1. Avatar

      I think we all need that reminder sometimes. Thank you for stopping by and have a great day.

  4. Avatar

    This is a great post, and a much-needed reminder for me today! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Avatar

      You are very welcome, Ashley. Thank you for visiting.

  5. Avatar

    Beautifully said. Often we are so busy that we forget the joy in living is in the simple pleasures, sitting down and just being in the moment. We don’t *have* to do all the things

    1. Valerie

      Thank you for you kind words, Jem. I’m glad you stopped by.

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