ENJOYING LIFE IN BUSY TIMES
First published in 1988, the top-selling book Too Busy Not to Pray explores ways to nurture one’s spiritual side when life gets hectic. Perhaps we need a complementary book, Too Busy Not to Have Fun, to repurpose us for enjoying daily life inside and outside of work hours.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent of three preschoolers, or a middle school teacher struggling with the challenges of standardized testing, try these suggestions for protecting yourself (and the kids who are absorbing your attitudes) from fatigue and burnout.
Enjoy Your Work
Most working-age people spend one-third to three-fourths of their waking hours on job-related activities, housecleaning/DIY projects, and/or volunteer work. If something deserves that much of your time, isn’t it important enough to enjoy doing?
I’m not referring to watching television while cleaning, but to enjoying your actual work. If you can’t honestly say you value your duties for more than supporting the basic needs of life, maybe you’re at the wrong office or in the wrong field. Or you might simply have a negativity habit, which can be remedied by rethinking your daily approach:
- Know what you do best and what comes most naturally to you, and seek out projects that use those strengths.
- Seek new challenges and stretch your skill levels. “Coasting” and “ruts” are no fun for anyone.
- Get to know and like your coworkers—or if you work at home alone, plan regular “work-together” projects with people you like. The very existence of camaraderie makes any job more fun.
Save Time for Self and Family
Important as it is to enjoy your work, true life balance includes time for pure leisure—no matter how long your to-do list is.
- Once every week or two, schedule an hour for self-pampering, from soaking in a tub to savoring your favorite latte.
- Schedule fun time with your family (and without one eye on your smartphone) at least once a week. Don’t be the teacher whose own children grow up bitter because “she only had time for everyone else’s kids.”
- Don’t feel guilty for taking time to just sit and daydream. Idleness is sometimes called the devil’s workshop, but it can just as easily be a workshop for generating beneficial ideas.
Don’t Find Time, Make Time
If you read all the above muttering, “That sounds great—if I had time to take on anything new,” quit wishing that life would organize itself for your benefit, and get proactive. Make room for the new by unloading some of the old.
- Delegate your “boring, routine” duties to someone who actually enjoys them.
- Cut out all unnecessary screen time (don’t kid yourself—we all know most screen time is unnecessary).
- Resign from clubs and committees you were staying in solely from habit.
- If you’re thinking, “But if I don’t do this [thing you know at heart is wasting your time], who will?”—understand that your business is to employ your strengths. If it’s meant to be done, someone will show up to do it. If it’s not meant to be done, you’ve lost nothing. And you’ve gained more time for enjoying life by making life better for yourself and others!