|Publisher:||New World Library|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
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Confessions of an Overscheduled Woman
If you are an overscheduled woman, you possess Superwoman-like powers that leave others scratching their heads as to how you get so much done. Sans the magic, bulletproof cuffs on your wrists, you have a knack for juggling many balls at a time without breaking an obvious sweat. You're highly motivated and committed to being the best you can be, as often as possible. You may be an alpha with an uncanny sense of when to encourage others to shine. Or an optimist with the enthusiasm of a popular sorority sister and a visionary's capacity to lead others. You may be a perfectionist and like to please others, a team player as much as an independent thinker, but there's one thing for sure: you're busy!
As an OSW you may be everything from a well-intended problem-solver to a driven and tireless overdeliverer. Both can be personal assets as well as professional attributes; however, an excess of either will wear you down. When this happens, all the signs of busy light up like a Las Vegas marquee.
Match Made in a Hurry
Being overscheduled goes together with being busy; it's a match made in a hurry. Hundreds of clients have shared with me their stories and their unusually creative methods for keeping up with their lives. At first glance, their particular busy habits may seem easy to change. However, the get-it-done attitude that makes the busy ethos so widely accepted is deeply embedded in the OSW ideology.
OSW Confession: Eating Meals on the Go
I take my frozen Jenny Craig meal out of the freezer in the morning, and while I'm running errands, it sits on the dashboard of my car. By noon it is thawed out and warm enough to eat. It fits right in my lap, so I can continue driving to where I need to get to without stopping somewhere to eat!
Busyness has gone from taking over a few minutes of each day to swallowing the day whole. Once a seemingly innocuous habit, busyness is now a culture, an addictive attraction promising the opportunity to fit in, get ahead, and be the best.
Access to higher education, employment, and flexible motherhood choices don't automatically equal freedom; rather, they are often a gateway to meetings that can't be missed, promises that can't be kept, and schedules that blur the lines between one day and the next. All sorts of corner cutting, which we do just to make things work, eats away at any free time. The imbalance between obligation and expectation results in making personal replenishment a mere footnote to the day, at best.
OSW Confession: "I Stunk at Being a Room Parent"
My daughter really wanted me to be her room parent, and I really wanted to do it for her, but my job is so demanding that I didn't know if I could make the time. When I asked another mom in the class to share the role with me, she responded, "That never works. Besides, you should get your priorities straight; your daughter is not going to be this age forever." I felt like I had been kicked out of a group I didn't even know I was in. I ended up taking on the room parent job, and I failed miserably. Luckily, my sister went to most of the in-classroom events, but it's something I've always felt bad about; I should have found a way to be there. I'm so good at my job and managing a team of really smart people, but getting twenty second-graders to the science museum escaped me.
I'm busier than a one-legged tap dancer!
The Road to Overscheduled
The promise that staying busy will make you part of an elite pack of doers and changemakers is part of the OSW's indoctrination to busyness. It's like receiving a wink from an admirer: you feel special but you're not really sure why, or what it means.
Do you find yourself checking off your long list of to-dos while simultaneously making a new list for the next day? Or multitasking even though you know it's not helping you get anything done faster? Getting stuff done and being busy feed our sense that, yes, we are important and, yes, we matter. It may not be a conscious thought; in fact, we may really feel that our busy lifestyles are necessary. They're not. They're exhausting.
As parents, we spend a minimum of eighteen years raising our children so that they can leave for college or elsewhere. And it often doesn't stop there; at least once, while in their twenties, most adult children will boomerang back into their childhood bedrooms that we now claim as our home offices.
As professionals, it takes about the same amount of time to build a successful career. And if you're single and looking for a partner, you may also need to carve out enough time to find a dating site, set up a profile, and then vet, meet, greet, and repeat. It's a process.
If we put all these efforts on a bucket list, it might look something like this: love, career, family. Sounds reasonable enough, right? But read between the lines, and you'll find that's where the trap has been set to keep us dancing the busy dance, on one leg, at double tempo, and with no end to the performance. I'm tired just thinking about what the OSW has planned next.
OSW Confession: Two Weddings in a Day
I love to be part of what's happening. I typically book my commitments back-to-back — I like getting a lot done in a day. But because I work full-time and have two kids, I have to find a way to fit all this in without it running into my family time. Weekends are the toughest because my kids have so many sports activities. Once I had two weddings in one day. I went to the church service of one and the reception of the other, and then back to the first so I could be at the reception. Each wedding was so different that I had to have two dresses. I used my Houdini skills to change in the car. I thought it was funny, but my husband thought I was nuts! He asked me why we had to go to both. "Because they expected me to be there, and I didn't want to let either of them down!" I said. It didn't seem odd to me at all. I like giving my all and being the best! It's what I do.
And there you have it — the tribal lyrics of the OSW: Make it all happen, get it done, be the best, and give it your all! And then do it again!
My mother used to say, "I'm busier than a one-legged tap dancer." I now get what she meant, and I'm sure you do, too. As you can see from the OSW stories in this chapter, many other women are dancing as fast as they can to keep up with the lives they have set in motion. You will find, as you explore the solutions in this book, that uncovering the motivations underneath your busy behavior and mindfully setting boundaries are both key to making optimal use of your best OSW characteristics. You'll learn how to stop the flow of busy and reset your tempo so you can begin dancing in harmony, not in a hurry.
The Busy Race and the Price of Your Pace
GINNY'S OSW STORY
Ginny was an on-the-go mom. She had a demanding job that required her to attend several midweek meetings, and she traveled for her job one week each month. Her husband traveled as well, and together they were raising three children, all under the age of ten. On parents' day at her daughter's school, she sent her best friend to stand in for her. "How did your daughter feel about your not being there?" I asked. "It's all about outsourcing. I told her that the stand-in "mom" would be much more fun than me. She understands that Mom is busy and that I can't always be there. I would outsource brushing my teeth if I could!"
If there's one thing I want you to take away from this chapter, it's this: You are living a life, not running a race. Slowing the pace so you're not racing and constantly playing catch-up begins one step at a time. And the first step is to understand what motivates your behavior and the comfort the behavior provides you. Once you do, you can devise some solid solutions and make space for new resourceful habits to take hold.
You'll begin doing that by exploring the Ten Signs That You Need to Break Up with Busy, which will help you determine what's underneath your busy habits. It's time to get in touch with who you are without all that busyness and to begin setting a new pace that feels right for you. In the process, you'll influence other women to do the same.
Ten Signs That You Need to Break Up with Busy
1. You frequently opt out of doing something for yourself when one of your loved ones requests your time.
2. You have a mixed sense of doing too much and not getting enough done.
3. Busy is your new normal.
4. You feel controlled by your schedule.
5. You eat at least one meal each day while standing up or doing something else.
6. You're experiencing weight shifts, skin issues, or hair loss.
7. You're not getting enough sleep, you have insomnia, your libido is low.
8. Things you once enjoyed taking time for now feel like inconveniences.
9. You often feel overwhelmed or anxious.
10. You constantly feel like you are rushing just to keep up with yourself.
Do any of these signs feel familiar? Of course they do! Busy is a club with far too many members. Ignoring these signs may seem harmless enough; however, busyness can put you and your health at risk. Though I could check off most of the items on the list above, like many other OSWs, I ignored the signs until I ended up in the emergency room. Unfortunately, that's not an uncommon event for many women, nor is having a compromised immune system brought on by ignoring our bodies' signals. To get a better understanding of how these symptoms have become so prevalent, let's take a brief yet essential look at how all this busy business got rolling and the impact its pace has on you. Let's begin with Ann's story, an example of how intelligent and successful women still unwittingly ignore their busy signs.
ANN'S OSW STORY
Ann was a high-achieving and professionally successful OSW. When she was in her midtwenties, she started her first company. She went on to attain her MBA while pregnant with her fourth child. Ann was exceptional in all areas of business but was miserable in her private life. She had a fractured relationship with her parents and spouse, and her children were emotionally distant, even though she had done "everything right" and "everything her parents expected of her," excelling beyond her own stratospheric standards. When she was in her early forties, she began experiencing digestion problems, severe insomnia, and abrupt weight gain. She had seen the finest doctors, and none could diagnose her ailments or connect them to a disease. She was so busy achieving what she felt was expected of her that she lived with these conditions for several years, accepting them as a product of her demanding lifestyle.
The first day she arrived in my office, she brought with her detailed records from the numerous doctors she had seen and her plan for what she wanted me to do. I said to her, "It looks like you have already discovered your solutions. Why are you seeking my help?" Ann responded, "I just want someone to make me do what I know I'm supposed to do." She didn't really want me to be the one in charge; letting someone else make decisions meant relinquishing control, and that would mean trusting uncertainty, something she was not at all comfortable with.
It wasn't until she had worked with me for about six months that she was able to let her guard down enough to begin exploring what was really under her perfectionistic habits. She had been surrounded by very successful women all her life and had watched her mother and aunts go on to achieve super-success. Her own success was never really something she planned; it was just something expected of her. She described feeling like she was always racing to catch up with herself. She wasn't even sure she liked what she was doing. In fact, she had always wanted to be a ballet dancer, not a CEO. Professional success was so familiar, yet she had little confidence in building and developing her personal relationships. The more she tried to control her relationships, the more her loved ones distanced themselves from her, and that in turn fueled her insecurities and kept her from trying a different approach. She also realized her uncertainties and angsts were being displayed in her physical symptoms.
These discoveries and her recognition of them initiated a dynamic change. I designed a fitness plan that fit her real life, not one that she was "supposed" to be living. I included daily meditation (that was a hard sell!) as part of her wellness program. We had an agreement that she would eat at least one meal a day sitting down, without her devices and devoid of business conversations. Ann began setting better boundaries at work and making more time for her family. Over time, her physical symptoms began to subside, until they dissipated altogether. It was a slow process; however, her changes stuck.
Ann is still highly successful, and now that includes having a better relationship with her children and her spouse. Her life is not perfect; it's better, and she has finally accepted that better is often her best. As a side note, Ann joined an adult ballet class, just for fun. She has redefined busy, and it is now an exception to her day, not a habit.
As we can see from Ann's story, being busy doesn't happen in a bubble; busy behavior trickles down and ripples out. She learned it from watching the women in her family, and her learned behavior in turn had an impact on her family. The energy of busy behaviors affects everyone with whom you come into contact, and the more time you spend with these people — partners, spouses, children, and coworkers — the larger your impact will be on them.
The big question is, How did busy become such a bully? Pushing and shoving its way into life as though it belongs and is as important as, oh, I don't know, things like love, family, and happiness? But there it is, manipulating time to the point that we're so busy being busy that we feel lazy or guilty when we sit too long at dinner. Oh, but that's right, who am I kidding? Nobody sits down for dinner anymore — we're too busy! The bully of busy cleverly steals our time while promising to give us more. Understanding how busy got so powerful, pervasive, and acceptable will help you begin reclaiming your time and make even more of it.
The Business of Busy
Time is like a Ponzi scheme; most of us feel we never get a good return on the investments we've made. Technology has had a profound impact on the illusion of time. Most of us habitually use loads of gadgets, thinking they aid us in freeing up time and space but in reality, they provide a steady stream of distractions. We can Facebook all our "friends" with a few strokes of the keyboard; we can text a conversation and avoid the time-absorbing niceties that are expected in a phone call. We Instagram our daily moments as if we're in a professional photo shoot, with age-enhancing filters and hashtags galore to let the world know that we're important and that we're busy!
Many of us who once considered the implications of our biological clocks are now surrounded by the constant reminders of the clocks on our laptops, tablets, smartphones, and automobiles. The reminders of time are constant and everywhere. Technology and its tantalizing time-saving gadgets have turned us into time wizards, like Willy Wonka conveyor belts, pumping out numerous tasks, appointments, errands, meetings, and chores. And thanks to these techy innovations, we can order food any time of the day and have it dashed to our doors; we can date, via the internet, while eating a bowl of ice cream in our PJs at 2:00 PM on a Sunday; heck, we can even file for divorce, pay taxes, and find a relative living in a cave somewhere in South America without ever leaving our backyard chaise lounge. We can have almost anything we want whenever we want it — and therein lies the problem. Busyness has no boundaries, with its unlimited self-imposed demands steeped in a myriad of expectations.
Busy goes far beyond the use of technology and our addictive draw to it. The feeling of being rushed and out of time has become embedded in our get- it-done culture. As economies grow and incomes rise, we have attached a financial value on time — it's worth more. We negotiate with ourselves over the use of our time, as though we have to ask permission to spend time the way we want. The less time we have, the more we want, and so go the hands around the clock — ticktock, ticktock, until we can't keep up with our own pace.
Excerpted from "Breaking Up with Busy"
Copyright © 2018 Yvonne Tally.
Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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