I Worked Out Why You're 'Too Busy'

If you think back over the last week, how many times did you reply ‘good... busy’, when asked how you are? 

I hear it so often - from coworkers, friends, clients and, of course, I hear it come out of my own mouth too.

I genuinely feel busy - I have a job that keeps me busy, a social life, a side business, family, friends. The thing is I don’t want to feel bored and have nothing to do - I’m grateful for all in my life.

But I also don’t want to use ‘busy’ in a negative way or as an excuse.

This is unfortunately what I hear so often - not just I’m busy, but I’m ‘too busy'. That’s when alarm bells start ringing for me, and here’s why...

You are prioritising ‘busy work’

We’ve spoken a lot about the second shift here on the blog - the household labor women do after their paid job is done.

After all, if you look for it, there’s always something to do in your second shift.

Is your house clean? I bet you could take everything out of your kitchen cupboards and clean those out too (please don’t).

I really want you to think about the things you can let slide… I’ve had two examples of this in the last few days.

Firstly, I got back from my holiday to Hawaii and my general inclination is to unpack and put the washing on once I get in the door. Why? I just got back from holiday. Instead, I made myself a coffee, sat on the couch and watched a movie. The suitcase was still there the next day once I’d had a good sleep and eased back into home life a little more.

Now, once I got the washing on the next day, I heard the washing machine beep its last beep, just as I was in the middle of writing this post. My inclination? Jump up and go hang the washing out. Why? I’m in the middle of something more important to me and the washing will be there in an hour when I’m done.

If you’re not ready to let anything slide this week, at least observe when you might be doing this - either doing things you don’t care about, or interrupting yourself constantly to rush on to the next task.

You’re avoiding what you care about most

Ding, ding, ding! This is the clincher my friends and something I observe frequently.

For my brain it’s much easier to hang out laundry than it is to write a blog post.

Writing a post takes thought, effort, courage, working through fears.

Who wants to do that when I can just stand in the backyard, pegging t shirts on the clothesline?

So often we deprioritise the things that are important to us for the sake of being busy. And this can include self-care or relaxation.

For example, I noticed earlier in the year that my days were going like this - work all day, go to the gym, cook dinner, then sit down to work on my website…

Of course, I was too tired to work on my website by then and although the other tasks were still important to me, I was putting less important things ahead of my main goal.

I’ve seen this in many areas with clients - 'I have to look after my family so I don’t have time for exercise', 'I have to check my work emails in the evening after dinner, so I don’t have time to paint', 'I can’t sit on the couch when there are dirty dishes in the sink', and on and on.

The things that scare or challenge us are the things we push aside, but they are also usually the most rewarding.

What step can you take towards a scary goal this week, ahead of your busy work?

You’re letting your mind run the show

Have you ever noticed how you can do things on your to do list with pain or ease? Let me give you an example.

Some Sunday afternoons, I cook around three meals for lunches and dinners for the week ahead. I can do it one of two ways.

  1. I try and do it as quickly as possible, multi tasking across recipes, huffing and puffing around the kitchen, watching the clock, lamenting having to cook on a Sunday. I also notice I’m more likely to cut my finger with a knife when I’m in this type of mood. Sounds fun right?
  2. I put on a podcast, pour myself a drink, grab everything out that I need for the first recipe and methodically work through each step in a relaxed way. I admire my handiwork when everything is in tupperware containers and reward myself when I’m all done - with a bath, an episode of a great show or getting ready for dinner out with friends.

The crazy thing is it usually takes me the same amount of time to meal prep whether I choose option 1 or 2 and guess which one leaves me happier?

If you have chosen to do something, do you want it to be mentally painful or pain-free? Try it out this week and also have a read about segment intending for help focusing on the task at hand. 

Want to chat about this further? Book in for a complimentary 30 minute consult with me and we can look at your to do list and move you away from being ‘too busy’.

How to Make Weekends Work for You

Even when we enjoy our work and weekdays immensely, nothing really beats a weekend.

Friday has that special energy about it and two days of possibility stretch out before us. I personally used to be the victim of Sunday blues (find out how I beat them here).

Although I don’t suffer the Sunday sads anymore, I do often find myself working through a long list of errands and feeling like I’m spending more time preparing for the week ahead than enjoying my time off. So, I’ve come up with a new strategy to try:

Friday nights are for relaxation

This isn’t really a shift for me (ha!) but I’m making a conscious effort to either enjoy dinner out with friends, go to happy hour with coworkers or hit the couch at home at the end of the week.

The real aim is to relax but to also make sure I rest up for Saturday.

Saturdays are for errands and prep

Sounds fun right?! I actually looked at what errands and preparation I would like to do and, to be honest, it’s not going to fill my whole Saturday.

I think the real mental shift is batching all these tasks together so they’re out of the way and don’t seep into the entire weekend.

So in no particular order, I’ll be aiming to nail a combination of the following each Saturday (and I’ve included a time estimate to prove my point):

  • A gym visit (1 hour)
  • Supermarket shopping (30 mins)
  • Meal preparation (see my best meal prepping tips here) (1-2 hours)
  • Housework (1-2 hours)
  • Study (more to come on this in the future...) (1-2 hours)

So even if we go with the maximum time estimates here, I’m looking at 7.5 hours of activities on a Saturday.

Luckily I’ll be awake for at least 14 hours, so half of Saturday is still mine for relaxing, catching up with people or doing whatever else I fancy.

What do you think? Am I crazy to cram all this in to one day?

Sundays are for fun

Ah, Sundays. I’m now looking forward to a mix of the following:

  • Brunch
  • Shopping
  • Binge watching TV shows (or more specifically, cooking shows)
  • Bike riding with the husband
  • Yoga
  • Museums / Art galleries
  • Whatever else I come up with!

I’m not going to pack my Sundays full, but I am going to make sure I enjoy myself.

Rigidity is not the aim here - I know some Saturdays I will have catch ups with friends and won’t turn them down to spend time at the supermarket, but I’m going to try this framework over the next month and see how it leaves me feeling once Monday rolls around.

Do you have any tips on how you balance chores and fun on the weekends? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

How You Can Beat The Dreaded Sunday Blues

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a victim of the Sunday blues. Around 3 or 4pm on a Sunday, I start to feel a dark cloud move over me. My days of freedom are almost over and I start questioning if I’ve ‘made the most’ of my time off. I start to worry about the unknowns and to do lists of the weekdays ahead and a general feeling of malaise washes over me.

A few months back, I decided I was fed up with this feeling and I wasn’t going to let it control my Sunday afternoons... So how did I do it?

I did all my chores on Saturday

Sunday afternoon used to involve doing groceries, meal prepping, cleaning and other errands. Does that sound like a time to look forward to? Yeah, didn’t think so.

I’ve switched it up and now do most of my weekend jobs on Saturday, leaving Sunday less of a day to dread. Saturdays have a different feel about them, so I’ve found it less of a pain to do my errands on that day. And waking up on Sunday with a very short to do list is worth it.

I avoided a hangover

Guilt, regret, anxiety, irritability. Sound familiar? A few too many vinos on Saturday nights were leaving me in a pretty terrible mood come Sunday. The journal Alcohol and Alcoholism characterises hangovers as “general misery” with symptoms including drowsiness, concentration problems, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal complaints, sweating, nausea, hyper-excitability and anxiety. No wonder I wasn’t loving Sundays.

Although I still enjoy a drink, I make sure to drink lots of water and try and steer clear of my beloved red wine, which according to the same journal, causes the worst hangovers

I did any work early in the day

I try not to make a habit of doing extra work over the weekend, but some weeks I need to play catch up, and other weeks I know doing some work on Sunday will get me set up nicely for a busy Monday ahead.

Again to save it hanging over me, I’ll try and do it early on Sunday, usually late morning. And if it’s not required, I steer clear of the work laptop.

I talked about it

Yup, I asked around. So many of my friends confessed that they too feel the Sunday blues. Just talking about it left me feeling less alone and made a distinct difference to my outlook at the end of the weekend.

It’s been easy to send a message over to a friend and see how they’re doing on Sunday afternoon. We usually check in and remind each other there’s no need to feel down.

I gave myself permission to relax and have fun

Despite feeling the need to be super productive on Sundays to get set up for the week ahead, I’ve recently let this belief go. I lead a busy life, so now feel no guilt for lying around watching cooking shows (one of my favourite guilty pleasures) or going out for a long lunch with friends.

Allowing time for rejuvenation will increase your motivation in the long run.

Do you suffer from the Sunday blues? What are your strategies for beating them?


How I Save Time, Money and My Health: Meal Prepping

As resistant as I am to it sometimes, one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, time-, money- and health-wise, is start meal prepping.

    

It kind of happened by accident. At my previous job, the office was in a less than desirable location, with only one cafe in walking distance. Yes, one. And we called it ‘the truck stop’. Think fried food, bad coffee and soggy foccacias. Appetising!

I had never really brought my lunch to work before this job. I knew I should be saving the $$ but it seemed fairly boring and tedious to me. Ah, how age makes us embrace the boring and tedious!

When I started at that job, I was super lazy with lunches. Two minute noodles, cuppa soups, dry rice cakes - let’s just say I was not looking forward to lunchtimes.

So I started to Google recipes you could cook in bulk and freeze. It took some time to get in the habit, but I can honestly say that (most weeks) I’ve never looked back. Below are my main learnings from a few years of meal prepping.

 

Make your list

Planning is key. Over time I have built  up a bank of recipes that I enjoy and can make in bulk for lunches. I always thought I could remember the tasty things I had made, but I’d generally end up googling new recipes from scratch each week, which wasted some time.

I’ve now got a running Google Doc that I add to as I find recipes I like, and each week (usually around Thursday or Friday, as I grocery shop on the weekend), I go into the document and see what looks good for the following week. This also includes any dinners I might be cooking at home.

Now I’m not completely strict, so I usually make one dish in bulk for lunch, have it for three-ish days, then buy my lunch for a couple of days.

I make a grocery list in my phone and then when I’m out and about on the weekend I pick up all the ingredients I’ll need.

Bonus tip:

If you’re thinking of getting into meal prepping, I’d also recommend grabbing some new tupperware containers. They’re fairly inexpensive and it’s more motivating to use new ones, rather than having to hunt around for random lids of old takeaway containers you’ve had for years.

 

Set the scene

I usually set aside around an hour each Sunday to get the cooking done. But, like most ‘good’ habits, sometimes we lose momentum.

If I’ve had a few too many vinos the night before or I’m just fed up with being a grown up (does anyone ever feel like that or is it just immature me?!), I bemoan the idea of spending time on a Sunday stuck in the kitchen.

When this kind of thinking strikes, I gently remind myself that it’s only one hour out of my whole day and I try and set a motivating environment.

I’ll make an icy smoothie to sip while I cook, I’ll find a fun Spotify playlist to listen to or, when I really need motivation, I’ll put on a Nigella cooking show and let her propel me forward.

And if I really can’t face it… see below...

 

Get a step ahead (inadvertently)

Like most habits, I try to allow for some flexibility in the meal planning. If a friend wants to grab dinner on a Monday night or we have a farewell lunch at work on a Friday, I don’t say no because there's a tupperware container waiting for me in the fridge.

If I won’t get to eat a meal I’ve made, or if I’ve cooked extra, I throw it in the freezer and watch the containers build up.

Then when we’re away for a weekend and I have no time to cook, I can defrost a few containers for the following week’s lunches.

Also, if we’re too tired to cook in the evening or my husband is out, I can pull something out and voila, dinner is served.

This also works on those Sundays when I really can’t face the cooking - I know something will tide me over from the freezer and give myself a break if I need it.

It does take some discipline and preparation, but I no longer feel guilty about spending money on lunches and I can make much healthier choices with the right planning.

Want a peek at my recipe list? Want to share some recipes you like to cook in bulk?