I really wanted to touch on a theme that become so glaringly obviously to me during my last 2 month long trip in Canada.

I’m sure you’ve seen many other articles or blogs in the past couple of years about the so-called “cult of busy:” the normalization of being too busy all the time, wearing busy-ness like a badge of honour and making it a part of our daily identity.

If you are a member of this cult, you’ll know the common answer to the question “how are you doing?” is something along the lines of “crazy busy! Oh, you know, swamped. Like, so busy. There’s just so much going on right now.”

I felt like I was extra sensitive to it this time round. Maybe it’s because by “normal” standards, my life in Mexico isn’t that busy. Busy-ness certainly isn’t celebrated in the same way. My busy-ness is here is actually met with scepticism and concern, because it goes against the grain of the reasons why most foreigners chose to live in this chilled-out beach town. People here are busy doing things they enjoy: surfing, spending time with family, reading books… just like retired people are busy with their social activities. It’s a different kind of busy, a soul-satisfying kind of busy that differs from the “cult of busy” I’m referring to here.

I also feel particularly sensitive to other people’s busy-ness in relationship to this precious time in my daughter’s life. I am so acutely aware of how quickly time is passing, how fast she is growing, and that she’s only going to be a baby for so long.

Good friends proclaimed they were just too busy, couldn’t make the time, or could we squeeze in a visit during a 30 minute lunch break, or combine it with a power walk? I was keenly aware of the impact of these words. I felt sad. Not so much for me, but for the fact that they were missing out on such a beautiful experience to share with me and my daughter.

Then what hit me even deeper was that it was like a mirror to my own entrenched experience in the cult of busy that has only recently begun to shift (and as you read in the last newsletter, I still struggle with taking too much on). I realized I was also sad for myself, the part of me that had missed out on experiences like this in the past.

It wasn’t so long ago that living life in a chaotic whirlwind, only just managing tiny increments of time for the things that ultimately should matter the most: family, connected friendships, new life, relaxation, creation. I kept myself so busy that I know that I damaged relationships. This again is why I was so sensitive to this behaviour in others, because it was an insight into how some people in my life must have felt around me. When I was so deeply embedded in my self-imposed mania, I didn’t see how hurtful my actions were to the people that were closest to me.

I was curious as to where term “cult of busy” came from, and it turned out it was coined by author Scott Berkun. He writes, “When I was younger I thought busy people were more important than everyone else. Otherwise why would they be so busy? I had busy bosses, busy parents, and always I just thought they must have really important things to do. It seemed an easy way to see who mattered and who didn’t…This is the cult of busy.”

Yet for me the drive to busy-ness is often about something deeper for many of us women. It can be tied into our feelings of self-worth and value, yes, but it is also a way of keeping us so distracted.

It’s a way of numbing ourselves to feelings of loneliness, disappointment, pain, and anxiety.  We keep ourselves excessively busy for the same reasons that we drink alcohol, binge eat food, or move quickly from one relationship to the next, never allowing ourselves time to really just be with ourselves.

I also know that when I was entrenched in busy-ness, the only I ever gave myself permission to turn off or slow down was when I was either drunk or hungover. Rabbi Elise Goldstein eloquently writes: for many of us, our busyness is a drug, and we use it dangerously. We overprogramme on purpose. We stretch ourselves to prove something. If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we will admit that often we use our excessively hectic schedules to escape ourselves. To escape the one thing we strive to cope with over these holy days: our inner life, our minds, and our spirits.

What about you? Does any of this feel familiar to you?

If you find yourself spread too thin, missing time with close friends or family, or answering the question “how are you?” more often than not with something to do with how busy you are – try some of these tips.

Reframe your response

We all get busy sometimes. Have a looming deadline for work? Say so. Inadvertently overschedule our week? Offer an apology and acknowledgment that you are stretched too thin. You can also try shifting your language using the following suggestion from Laura Vanderkam’s article in the Wall Street Journal.

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.

You may decide not to say “this isn’t a priority” outloud – but it can be a really great indicator of what is going on inside.

Is it a “hell yes?”

Ask yourself… is this a “Hell Yes??” If it is, then go for it. If not, then consider prioritizing differently.

Chose quality over quantity

Do you really need to go to every event you get invited to? Are all of your acquaintances bringing something meaningful into your life, or are you saying yes to your boyfriend’s sister’s boss’s birthday because you don’t want to be home alone on Friday night?

Log your time

If you are really confused about where all your time is going, and to help gain clarity around how you are spending your time, it can be helpful to log your time spent doing different activities. Are you really as busy as you think? Are there areas of your life that can be readjusted in order to prioritize self-care and connection? In her article in LifeHackers, Janet Choi recommends connecting your attention and action with a time audit. “Break down how you spend time on the computer with RescueTime. Or see how you answer the questions of “What did you get done today?” and “What did you pay attention to today?” over time using iDoneThis.”

Be revolutionary

Creating a new normal and going against the grain can be tough sometimes, especially when you are surrounded by SO. MUCH. BUSY-NESS. I used to brag that the reason I accomplished so much at such a young age was because I didn’t sleep. I now make a point of emphasizing the things I do for self-care. I communicate my desire to free up more time, rather than fill it. And I’m honest about when this is a struggle and when I’ve fallen back into the time-trap.

Together we are strong, right? Let’s create a new normal together…

Is the cult of busy really one that you want to be a member of? What about the cult of revolutionary self-care and connection?

Are you with me? Let me know in the comments if you are. I’d love to hear one action you will be taking (or have already taken) to make more room for presence in your life.

I’ve also included a chapter with even more strategies on this topic in my upcoming guide: Drink Less, Be More. Pre-sale info will be coming soon – are you excited!?! I am!! I can’t wait to share it with you.

Cheers a relaxing weekend 😉


Ps. I have a new instagram account dedicated to Drink Less, Be More! Follow for daily inspiration, yummy drinks and lifestyle tips. Find me at @drink.less.be.more