A Matter of Priority

Why you can’t be too busy for you
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Busyness has become a celebrated lifestyle today. If people aren’t busy, we think less of them. In Overwhelmed, Brigid Schulte writes, about time researcher Ann Burnett, who studies Christmas letters and notes the rise of people sharing about their busy lives over the past fifty years. Her research blew my mind. Schulte writes, “Somewhere toward the end of the twentieth century, Burnett and other researchers contend, busyness became not just a way of life, but glamorous. Now, they say, it is a sign of high social status…Busyness is now the social normal that people feel they must con- form to, Burnett says, or risk being outcasts.”

This lifestyle of busyness makes it a big shift in perspective for women to acknowledge that they are not too busy for themselves, but that is exactly the shift that needs to happen. Women today must make themselves a priority. I know this shift in thinking was hard for me. Lies like “I’m the mom, I need to make sure my children’s outfits are perfect,” “I’m the wife, I need to have a spotless house,” and “I’m the business professional, I need to check email as soon as I wake up” repeatedly poisoned my thinking. Once I freed myself from the bondage of perfection and embraced a lifestyle that made time for my passions, I was happier in all of my pursuits and responsibilities.

Of course, I still have days when these lies creep into my head. But overall, I no longer feel like a bad housewife when I choose to craft instead of organizing my linen closet. I no longer have mom guilt when I choose to spend an occasional Saturday morning getting a massage and meeting a friend for coffee instead of hanging out with my kids. I no longer become stressed when my house isn’t perfect because I choose to sew instead of worrying about scrubbing floors before having guests over for dinner.

During a lunch date a few years ago, my friend Jenny and I were catching up about the busyness of our lives and balancing family, work, and home responsibilities. She and I are similar in a lot of ways. We both have two young kids and work full time outside the home.

She said to me, “I don’t know how you do it all, Jess. I really don’t. I’d love to know your secret.”

I started asking how she spends her time at home, and she confessed that she is consumed with cleaning and organizing. She said she spent an entire Saturday cleaning cupboards, washing them out, organizing household supplies, and so on.

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