How To Win The Battle With Busyness
CPA MOMS Podcast with Dawn Goldberg
Ep. 71 How to Win the Battle with Busyness
Whether you are a working mom or not, most people identify themselves and their day, based on a sliding scale of busyness. It’s as if busyness has become the norm and we use descriptors like “kind of”, “super” and “crazy” to delineate how busy we are and to help others understand what we are saying.
This shared language of busyness can be tempting to use as a badge of honor or as a way to get sympathy:
- I’m super busy at work, but I’m still balancing all the balls in the air
- My life is so crazy busy, I don’t know if I can take it anymore
For accountants, busyness seems like a necessary part of the job; like having a computer and a calculator. An accountant who isn’t describing themselves as busy is looked upon as either lazy or in trouble.
A typical busy day as an accountant and a mom often starts with waking up and already dreading the busy day ahead, walking into the office and getting hit with other people battling busyness and then working through it all in order to get home to keep being busy. It’s no wonder working moms experience burnout at such a high rate!
But somewhere along the way, accountants seemed to agree to believe that busyness was a fact and that stress was the fuel necessary to get everything done. If you believe in the formula “accountant + mom = busyness”, then I have a much better way to help you battle busyness, to feel much better and to be more effective.
The heavy weight associated with busyness for accountants and for working moms doesn’t need to be “just the way it is”. You have more power than you realize to win the battle with busyness, without sacrificing anything in the process.
This week I’m going to share what busyness really is, why it’s a problem and what to do instead.
What busyness really is
As an accountant and a mom, it can seem like you are just stating the facts – you are busy and you feel tired and overwhelmed. You’re probably surrounded by plenty of people who think and feel the same way.
The important thing for you to know is that busyness is not a fact, even though it feels like one. I understand that this might be challenging to believe at first, especially for working moms, but if you just let me explain, you’ll realize the truth and the power of what I’m sharing.
To begin with, there is always a thought that proceeds, and creates, a feeling. Whether you are consciously aware of your thoughts or not (over 80% of your thoughts are unconscious), you have a thought and that thought creates a feeling.
When you describe yourself or your day as “busy” or any other version of busy, you are sharing your thoughts, not a fact. It will become clear why this is important but for now, just know – busyness is a thought.
When you have a thought like “It’s a crazy busy day”, that thought will create a feeling like dread, self-pity or overwhelm. When you string together enough days of frustration and stress, you wind up being unable to manage it all and feeling the effects of burnout.
As an accountant you’ve probably normalized thoughts like “This is the busy time of year” or “Once this is done, I won’t be so insanely busy”. Unfortunately, once thoughts like these are practiced day after day, year after year, they become the default programming in your accountant mind.
Once the belief in busyness is firmly planted in your mind, you will probably find yourself waking up feeling apprehensive, or feeling anxious as you check your emails and possibly feeling angry when asked to do something. This is all completely normal because you are living at the effect of your default beliefs about busyness.
The reason it’s important to address your battle with busyness is because it’s completely within your control to win the battle. It doesn’t matter how many clients you have, what time of year it is or how many activities your children are involved in, you can create a much more manageable life.
Why busyness is a problem
The problem with busyness is that it’s subjective. Think about it:
- Who decides that a day is “busy”?
- What defines a “busy day”?
- What’s the difference between “super busy” and “insanely, crazy busy”?
Since you now know that your thoughts about the sliding busyness scale will create a feeling, it’s also important to understand that your feelings fuel your actions. What you do and don’t do, is 100% driven by your feelings.
The problem is that once you’ve described your day as “super busy”, that thought will create a feeling like anxiety, stress or overwhelm. When you feel overwhelmed, for example, you will most likely take an action like complaining or procrastinating.
I’m sure you can see how that ends – you don’t get as much done, you’re more overwhelmed than before, you snap at the people around you and that extra glass or two of wine at the end of the day sounds really good.
If you were looking for a fulfilling, productive day, where you completed your work with energy to spare, you unfortunately missed the mark. The poisonous thought about having a “super busy day” actually created what you don’t want, and that’s the problem.
When you look at your day as “busy” you make it so much harder on yourself. It’s like you’re trying to get from point A to point B, but you keep throwing massive boulders in the way; it’s exhausting and unnecessary.
What to do instead
If you are frustrated right now, thinking “But my days are incredibly busy; you should see my schedule!”, that’s perfectly normal. You have been seeing your personal and professional life in a certain way for a long time and you’ve probably got plenty of coworkers that would agree with you.
If you’ve always believed that stress is necessary for accountants, it’s because you’ve made a connection between being busy, the feeling of stress and getting things done, but that’s not true. Your brain has just made a thought-feeling connection that you’ve practiced so often, it feels true for you.
The secret to battling busyness that no one tells you about is watching your language. The way you describe and label anything becomes wired in your brain, making it easier and more efficient to consistently perceive things the way you’ve chosen to.
You may not have control over the things you have to do, but you do have control over what you think about the things you have to do. With some awareness and a shift in the way you choose to think, you’ll be better able to manage it all.
The amazing thing about your female brain is that it has a powerful filtering system that will show you proof of what you believe. For example, it’s the reason why you “just happen” to see a lot of red cars on the road when you’ve decided you are in the market for a red car.
Therefore, if you keep thinking you are “super busy” or “insanely busy”, that’s what your brain will show you proof of. Unfortunately, it then becomes difficult to get off the stress and overwhelm merry-go-round because what you believe will continue to feel true for you, even though it isn’t serving you.
So the important question is – if you couldn’t use the word “busy” to describe your day, your time or your life, how would you describe it? Since we know that the sliding busy scale makes us feel dread, stress and overwhelm, what is another way to explain what you have to do, or what you have done?
See if any of these resonate with you:
- Today I got to help my clients with their financial reports/statement/tax returns
- I’m going to prepare the Form 1099’s for my clients by the deadline
- I will get my work done, take my daughter to soccer practice and then help with homework
- I’m going to do what I can today
These statements don’t sound dramatic, do they? That’s exactly the point! Unfortunately, your female brain is a bit of a drama queen, often seeing things in a very dramatic fashion, in order to protect you; it’s naturally programmed to see everything as dangerous to your survival, especially when you’ve thought the same way for a long time.
By learning to watch your language and remove the drama, you will actually feel much better which will result in you doing much better. Choosing less dramatic language will reprogram your brain to not automatically think busyness is normal.
The truth is that we all have things to do for work and for our families. In order to win the battle of busyness, you just need to start choosing thoughts on purpose that give you a feeling other than stress, overwhelm and dread.
You may have a Google calendar full of things that need to get done, but how you show up personally and professionally is 100% within your control, no matter what is on that calendar. in order to be at your best, you need to become aware of how you describe things and start telling a different story.
When you decide to tell a different story, you naturally get a different ending. That is how to win the battle with busyness, how to feel better no matter what’s on your plate and how to get more done with much more energy.
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