“Sorry I can’t come to lunch, I am awfully busy.

“Sorry I can’t volunteer for the field trip. I’m a busy working mom.”

“Sorry I don’t have time to come to that girls-only retreat, even though it’s going to take my efficiency and effectiveness to the next level, I’m just too busy to make the time.”

Now who is sorry?

When we add up the things in life we missed, which ones really matter?

Just like work/life balance is a myth – you can’t really balance work and life, the best you can do is harmonize work in life – the word “busy” is a myth as well. Might as well just state the truth. Instead of “I’m too busy,“ just say “It’s not a priority for me.” We’re not too busy to say “yes” to things in life – we prioritize what’s important to us.

My wise big sister was working late one night and I saw on her desk the details of planning her son’s school fundraiser. I was young and naïve at the time, so I asked, “How do you have the time to do that?” Her reply has remained lucid in my mind to this day:

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.

Unlike so many other people, my sister didn’t use the word “busy” as an excuse. It was more like her superpower. She wanted to make both a priority, so she did. She also knew how to say “no” to other things, because her priorities were clear. She taught me to take responsibility for my choices.

If we are letting life happen to us, if we are swimming with the current, how is it we expect anything extraordinary in return? If we want something to be different than it is, we have to set our priorities by design.

Sometimes we have to slow down to go faster. I was listening to a YouTube teaching from Joe Dispenza on brain waves in a rested state versus a state of cerebral activity. The science shows greater amounts of brain activity in the rested state.

Translation: We’re actually smarter when we take time to rest. Not only does our creativity explode, but when our motivation goes from head to heart, our energy multiplies. Here’s how you can do that in the middle of your day.

1) Take three minutes.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Take a deep inhale and imagine your breath acting like a light shooting to the back of your skull, delivering energy to your brain.

Regulate your breath by taking deep inhales through the nose and exhale through your mouth like you’re breathing out from a straw and imagine forcing stress out with every exhale.

2) Take a new shortcut.

On your way to the next meeting, take a new route and use that time out as a meditation of its own — take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk around the outside of the building to feel the warmth of sun on your skin.

Notice that the world outside of your schedule functions incredibly well without an Outlook calendar.

3) Take time for you.

I take Sundays off as a device-free day. Is that too scary for you? Try taking a two hour break from the phone, or don’t touch anything electronic for the first and last hours of the day. Disrupt your “busy” schedule to introduce a new rhythm or restorative weekend.

The next time you catch yourself about to say, “No, I’m busy,” ask yourself the reason why you don’t take care of yourself. Consider the real price of being overbooked.

Originally published on Ellevate.

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  • Donna Carlson

    Women's Leadership & Life Strategy Coach

    360º Life Strategies

    Women comprise 56% of the workforce but so many of us don't ask for what we want. Why is that? After a 30 year career accepting second best, living like a race horse held behind the start gate, Donna Carlson changed her strategy from being a thermometer - reflecting the mores of the world around her - to being a thermostat. Now Donna coaches women to own their personal style and leadership power.