Do you feel like you’re always busy–that you can never catch up?

I think it’s the modern malaise! And today, in my Friday musings, I want to hopefully convince you that the problem isn’t necessarily that we have too much to do. It’s that we’re trying to relax in the wrong ways.

Sheila’s Musings: Are We Trying to Relax in the Wrong Ways?

Do you always feel too busy? | Maybe the problem isn't all the things you have to do, but how you choose to spend your leisure time.

When you ask people how they’re doing, chances are they won’t say, “I’m fine,” though that used to be the standard answer. Chances are they’ll comment on their busy-ness. “Things are starting to slow down, and maybe I’ll be able to come up for air soon!”

We feel so busy. We’re overwhelmed. We’re exhausted.

And yet something weird is going on. When you look at time studies, the amount of work we do has increased slightly over the last forty years. But it hasn’t increased a ton. If you combine housework and paid work, we’re still, as a society, doing roughly the same as we did in 1970. Slightly more, but not like 50% more or anything. We actually have a fair amount of leisure time.

So why do we feel so busy?

The difference is in how we’re choosing to spend that leisure.

Some of us are simply overextended with committees and extracurricular activities. But I think there’s something else at work. When we choose to spend our leisure time in front of a screen (either the internet or the television), we often LOSE a significant portion of our day, and feel far less rejuvenated than we would otherwise. 

When you sit down at the TV, do you think to yourself, I think I’ll sit here for two and a half hours? Chances are you don’t, but often you find that that is exactly what you’ve done. Same with the internet. I sit down to “check a few emails” and suddenly an hour has gone by.

When we spend so much of our lives in front of a screen, then we do have less time to get things done.

But it’s not just that the internet eats more time than you intended it to. It’s also how it leaves you feeling.

I’m guilty of binge watching Netflix when I’m alone. Yet I’ve noticed that my mood is much improved if I spend at least half an hour a day reading an interesting book. I’ve given myself something to chew on, I’m using my brain power, and I’m feeling rooted in something important.

The problem with time wasters is just that: they waste time. Sure, it feels temporarily fun to let a few hours go by watching TV, but afterwards, do we really feel good about life? But if we were to identify something that does feed our souls and make sure we have time to do that, we wouldn’t feel as if life were passing us by and we weren’t getting things done.

To Love, Honor and VacuumI wonder, then, how much of our busy-ness simply stems from the crazy ways we spend our leisure time. I talk about this a lot in To Love, Honor, and Vacuum: When You Feel More Like a Maid Than a Wife and Mother, but sometimes I need to remind myself of the concept. Often we turn to time wasters, like TV and the internet, because we’re tired. We’re exhausted. And we just want to relax. The problem is that these things don’t relax us. So we end up worse than we were before.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum--what's it about?

To Love, Honor and Vacuum was the first book I wrote. At the time, two women who were very close to me were feeling miserable in their marriages. They were doing everything for everybody, but their husbands were getting more and more distant.

How could that be?

But soon I realized the problem. They thought that they could win affection and respect by pouring themselves out for everyone else. And what they discovered was that this almost always backfires. If you want a satisfying family life, then you have to see family as a team, rather than yourself as a servant.

And in To Love, Honor and Vacuum (now with the updated edition, 10 years later!), I show how you can stop feeling like a maid, and start feeling like a wife, mom, and woman again, because you put first things first.

Check out the book here!

I’ve made it a goal to read a book a week this year and to try to use my Wii to exercise for twenty minutes a day. When I do those things, it’s okay if I watch Netflix, because I’ve already fed my soul.

But if we spend all of our leisure time on things that ultimately don’t satisfy, we’ll feel as if we’re gulping for air. We’ll feel like something’s missing. And that makes us feel busy, because we’re obviously not getting done what needs to get done. But what’s our reaction to feeling busy? We need to veg more. And it becomes a vicious cycle.

I’d just encourage you in the week coming up to break that cycle. Figure out what feeds your soul, and add even a little bit of it to your day. It can change your whole outlook, and stop that constant “not getting enough done” feeling.

If we took steps to prioritize those important things, then we’d feel better. We’d feel more productive. We’d go to bed at night knowing that we had had a good day. I’d really like that feeling again, and I’m going to try to catch it next week! Are you with me?

Friday Roundup on To Love, Honor and Vacuum

What’s #1 at To Love, Honor and Vacuum?

Marriages have time of highs and times of lows–I don’t think anyone can argue that–but how do you deal when things aren’t going exactly your way?  Maybe your hubby has an addiction that is damaging the relationship, or maybe we’ve let ourselves go (physically) over the years and we are finding it more difficult to stay attracted to each other.  Maybe our personalities just don’t mesh.  Does this give us an excuse to give up?  Are we allowed to go back on the vows we made before God?  Or how can we work through our problems to find the spark we had at the beginning?

My Husband Has a Big Belly: So how do we have sex? Some thoughts on what sex positions work best, and how to address his weight issues.#1 Post on the Blog: Help! My Husband Has A Big Belly  
on the Blog Overall: Top 10 Effects Of Porn On Your Brain, Your Marriage, And Your Sex Life 
#2 from Facebook: Why I’m Anti-Divorce And Pro-Remarriage
#4 from Pinterest: Just Your Type: Personality Differences And Marriage 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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