The One Good Thing About Being Busy

The One Good Thing About Being Busy

Anyone who knows me in real life (and that includes those of you who read this blog regularly) knows I hate being busy. There’s no better or more eloquent way to say it. I just hate it. I hate trying to manage multiple projects with multiple deadlines and I hate having a full calendar. Not having enough downtime in my schedule to relax and enjoy life fills me with anxiety, hurts my sleep habits and even affects what I eat/consume. That’s the reason I started this year of slow living experiments, and especially the slow work experiment: because I felt anxious just knowing how busy parts of 2017 were going to be.

You might be surprised then when I tell you how being busy actually helped me this month. Because it was an extremely busy month. Aside from the few months where I was finishing writing the book, editing the book, etc., October felt like one of the busiest months of the year. I had a little bit of anxiety and I didn’t sleep much for the last week of it. My eating/consumption habits were pretty healthy, but every time I felt my anxiety creep back in, I knew I had to make a decision. And that’s exactly what being busy helped me do this month: make decisions.

I know I am not unique in the fact that I like to dream big and hope I can get a lot done in a little amount of time. It’s actually a pretty classic move: assuming we can get a lot done, that is. So, we over-promise, over-commit and fill our calendars with an overwhelming number of deadlines. And then the anxiety, stress, and gloom and doom attitude sets in. If we let this go on and continue to repeat this pattern, we either start resenting our bosses or clients OR we start doing a bad job of everything.

I had some really big and ambitious dreams for what I could accomplish in the last two months of this year. And for what it’s worth, if it was any other year, I do think I could have done it all. But it’s not any other year. In a little over two months, my first book is coming out. (!!!) And because it’s my first book, I had no idea how much work would go into promoting and launching it. So, I had all these deadlines laid out for other projects I wanted to do, and it all looked like it could come together pretty easily. And then my publicist told me I would start doing interviews at the end of October, and my beautiful colour-coded calendar blew up in my face.

That conversation took place a few weeks ago, but I continued to spend most of October thinking I could bring at least one of my new projects to life before the new year. I kept working on it, sent some files to my designer and felt ok about the progress I was making. But I didn’t feel great about it. I knew I could do better, if I had more time. After tracking my hours, I knew I was already working 35-40 (productive) hours/week and my brain couldn’t seem to handle much more. The only way to get more time would’ve been to sleep less, and that’s not better for anyone. So, instead, I had to make some executive decisions.

PS: For anyone who is considering tracking their time, I can’t write a how-to post about that because I just made a scribbly mess in my planner! But here are two posts that might help you: ways to do it + how it helps you.

I could list all the new projects I was going to work on and explain the number of executive decisions I made, but it could all be summed up in one sentence: I decided to do what I already do well, just a little bit better. And since you now know I’m not a huge fan of things like sales funnels, and will always put people over profit, I thought I’d do something a little different. Rather than write content that could try to sell you on these things, I’m going to tell you exactly when they will be available. I know each of these things isn’t for everyone, but they might be for you. So here are the details:

RIGHT NOW: Simple Year 2018 is Open for Early Reg!

When Courtney Carver asked if I wanted to contribute to Simple Year 2016, my first thought was: ME!?!? A group of the minimalism + simple living bloggers I looked up to had come together and created a course that could help people simplify their lives, and I was being invited to join them? I couldn’t believe it. And when I talked to Courtney on the phone for the first time, I honestly felt like I was talking to a celebrity. Two years later, I feel extremely grateful to call her my friend, along with many of the other course contributors. I can also tell you that the lessons in Simple Year have changed my life for the better (particularly the ones on digital + relationships).

I’ve also received some amazing feedback about my content, which I teach every July:

If this feels like a course you’d want to invest in for yourself, early registration is open right now until November 14th at 12pm (noon) EST. It’s $199 USD (less than $17/month) right now, and will go up to $249 USD in January.

NOVEMBER 22: Mindful Budgeting 2018 Planners

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t going to create 2018 planners. The list of reasons for this was long. I was worried that it would be too much to promote these + the book at the same time. I was worried that some people might confuse the planners with the book, and order it thinking it was going to be a memoir and then be horribly disappointed to have a planner show up at their door instead. (Did my anxiety make these stories up? That’s a topic for another day, lol.) I also couldn’t find a printer in North America who could use double-loop wire binding and make them even more helpful. That didn’t happen in time, so I wasn’t going to create new planners.

When I shared this news with the existing Mindful Budgeting Facebook group, the reaction can only be described as: supportively-disappointed. You were so understanding of my reasons, but also said you didn’t care what it looked like and just wanted a new planner for next year. So, I’m making that for you! It’ll look/feel the same but, with the help and suggestions from current users, I am adding a few new templates that will make it just a little bit better. Thank you for this feedback, friends. It’s another example of why we’re better when we work together.

EARLY DECEMBER: The Year of Less + Book Tour

In a few weeks, I’ll be sharing some exciting news about my book! I would also love to do a mini book tour, but I will need your help to make it happen. If you would be interested in helping me come to your city next year, please stay tuned! This is the project I am most excited about. <3

If it looks like November is going to be another “busy” month, you’re right—in a sense. But by giving myself permission to push my big ideas aside until next year, I am now able to put my time and energy into projects I already do well, just a little bit better. Q4 is always my busiest season, and you guys have come to know that about me. If I was a “smarter” business owner, I would space these things out, so it doesn’t feel like I’m telling you about so many things at the same time. But that’s just not how my business works! I love a new calendar year, and I love working on projects that revolve around a year—and heck, I even wrote a book about a year of my life, haha. So, this is it. It all comes at once, and then we can spend the rest of the year talking about real life. :)

Delaying some of these projects will affect my income and my finances. I had done some projections for how much I could earn in Q4, and those numbers will be much lower than I had expected. But that’s ok right now! I would rather do a few things well and still have time to enjoy life than push myself to reach unrealistic deadlines and goals. I know the work will be better for it, and I will definitely be better for it. So, all-in-all, I feel like this slow living experiment was a HUGE success.

Experiment #8: Slow Work

  • track how many hours I work every day (and how many per project) – done!
  • set realistic expectations of what I can get done (with timelines) – done!
  • explore other creative outlets (this could be fun – stay tuned!) – no time (yet)
  • share how I slowly grew my blog (incl. dollars + blog stats) – done!
  • share plans for what’s next – done! :)

Thank you for an incredible month, friends! I don’t ever plan on turning this into a blog about blogging/working for yourself, but it was extremely helpful for me to share all of these things with you.

  • I love your honesty. When things are over my head, it makes me feel better to know other people sometimes have days (months) like that! I’m very much looking forward to your 2018 planner!

  • So a super-busy October wasn’t just me? Sounds like you were at least anticipating your busy-ness. I also hate to feel busy. I love to feel productive, which includes working on those things that inspire and grow me and my family, but also includes time for reflection and spontaneity (as in, since the weather is surprisingly awesome today, let’s for for a hike this afternoon). I’ve unscheduled a few things from my calendar for November to make space for my real priorities and I now feel optimistic about being able to attend to those priorities with the dedication they deserve.
    As an aside, when I ask people “how are you?” and they reply with the far-too-common “Oh, I’m so busy”, my response is “that’s too bad.” Takes the standard conversation in a different direction. :)

    • It wasn’t just you! At first, my month felt productive too—which I also love. But then things started ramping up quickly with the book, travel, etc. and I just had to say NOPE. I LOVE your response to that statement, btw. I try to never use the word “busy”, but I did a few times in October and followed it up with, “but I know it’s not forever and this is a great problem to have”. I can’t complain about the cool things that are going to happen in the next few months. I just need to make sure I manage my schedule in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling totally burnt out. Step 1, complete. :)

  • we over-promise, over-commit
    That right there sums up my life and reading your blog helps me remember to stop doing this. It is ok to do less and to make time for ourselves, you taught me this. I will continue to try and do better at this.

    As for work, man I really need to get more focused on the blog (be saying No to more people I can do this easily for myself) What you have accomplished is inspiring and thank-you for showing fellow aspiring bloggers what you do so we can learn and try for ourselves.

    So here’s to a great November for you after a hectic October.
    PS ~ Congrats on the Plutus Award

  • I was just thinking about how the people I work with need to learn to say no more (myself included)! I’ve been witnessing first hand how overcommitting impacts other areas of life and ultimately let’s those people down you’ve committed to. But, like you said, it’s all about decisions. I’m mentally overloaded right now and am taking a mini blog break so I don’t crash and burn spectacularly. That was one decision that was hard to make, but was ultimately worth it!

    • I looooove a good blog break, Britt. Enjoy it! The space always helps get my creativity flowing again. :)

  • If you come to Edmonton on your book tour, I’d be happy to host! We also have a place in Victoria, but I’m pretty sure you’ve got that location covered.

  • So happy to hear that you are creating a 2018 planner. I use my planner every day without fail and it been invaluable in keeping me on track.
    If only your book tour included the UK:)

  • Ooh seconding the request to come to DC on your book tour! ;) (Plus I’ve got a couch you can crash on if that’s something you need.) Also I don’t think I told you congratulations on your Plutus award, so here’s a belated CONGRATULATIONS!!

    Looks like you made the right choice for October: quality over quantity and sanity above all else! It’s something I have to remind myself of constantly. These are all really awesome projects you’re working on at the moment, and you’re totally right that there’s time next year to focus on the plans you didn’t get to this year! Thanks also for the reminder to sign up for the Q&A tonight for A Simple Year-I’m thinking about doing it in 2018.

  • Love your honesty and the bit about choosing people over profit! Also, would love to have you come to Edmonton for the tour. :)

  • I was hunting online for the planners and wondered why i couldn’t spot them. Glad to hear that you are doing one for 2018 and looking forward to getting that.

  • Cait,

    I can’t tell you how much these sentences from your post resonate with me:

    So, we over-promise, over-commit and fill our calendars with an overwhelming number of deadlines. And then the anxiety, stress, and gloom and doom attitude sets in.

    I love your message and your writing.


  • Cait: wholeheartedly recommend the explore other creative outlets on your Slow Work experiment list. I was listening to a podcast early in the fall and the guest talked about finding a new creative outlet when your hustle/passion becomes a job. I had a real light bulb moment. My blog had been my passion project for a few years, I loved working on it in my spare time and connecting with other bloggers. But when I got my first book deal my passion and excitement for my blog was eaten up. It had become a job. And that was great – but it was no longer just a creative outlet. Recently I started working on a novel on my spare time and it’s been both exhilarating and has, surprisingly, rekindled some of my early excitement and passion for my blog. So yes, get out there and explore some new creative pursuits!

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