60. The Problem of Being BUSY and Tips to Tackle Busyness

tips to tackle busynessDo you consider yourself busy?  Do you find yourself rushing from one thing to the next with a never-ending to-do list running in the back of your head?  Well, that’s exactly the sentiment shared by today’s guest, Cari Powers—a personal trainer, a nutrition coach, and a busy entrepreneur.   Despite her perpetual busyness, Cari often finds herself feeling unaccomplished as her to-do list seems never-ending. She acknowledges the importance of self-care but struggles to integrate it into her already hectic schedule.

In this episode, we talk about the main problems that come with busyness and how it relates to boundaries.  I provide Cari with insights and suggestions on incorporating self-care practices and effective calendaring tips to ensure she can seamlessly integrate self-care into her routine.  The conversation finishes up with discussing efficient scheduling strategies to kickstart her week in the right direction.

Learn more about my Boundaries and Calendars program; a community of women learning to stop feeling so busy and start loving their calendars.

Learn more about Cari Powers HERE. Find her on Facebook or Instagram.  

Main Episode Takeaways

  • Busyness is a sign of a boundary problem.
  • We get to decide how busy we want to be.
  • Self-Care doesn’t “fit” into an already full schedule.
  • The reason we practice self care is because we are already valuable and we take care of the things we value.
  • The magic of having boundaries with our calendars is that you get better results for your time and peace of mind.

Want to learn more about boundaries?

– Boundaries quiz HERE
Take my Boundaries 101 Course
– Do you want to overcome your hurdles of people pleasing? Book a free call with Mary!

60. The Problem of Being BUSY and Tips to Tackle Busyness

Mary: Let’s talk boundaries. I’m here with Cari Powers and we are discussing boundaries together. Hey, Cari thanks for being here. 

Cari: Hi, I’m happy to be here. 

Mary: Cari tell us a little bit about you and your journey to learning boundaries. 

Cari: Okay. I am a personal trainer. I own a mobile training business and nutrition coaching. So that’s what I do for work. I got into fitness cause I lost about a hundred pounds and I, I had never found exercise appealing in any capacity for over 20 years. And then I found one thing that I actually didn’t hate for every single second. And that changed my relationship with exercise. Outside of work I read a lot. I cook a lot. I’m married. I have a dog who’s 16 and a half who I’ve had for his entire life. 

Mary: 16 and a half. Wow, what kind of dog?

Cari: He’s a Maltese. He’s small, white, fluffy. 

Mary: Oh, I have a little white Maltipoo.

Cari: They’re the cutest. The little black eyes and the black nose. It is my absolute favorite dog look. And he’s a senior now. He has no teeth. So his little tongue falls out. It’s like he’s, he’s my little special guy. 

Mary: That’s awesome. I didn’t even know we had that in common. How fun. Fun. Yeah. So how come you want to talk to me about boundaries today? What’s going on?

Cari: I feel like I grew up with no sense of boundaries. My household was… just didn’t have a lot of boundaries. We’ll leave it at that. And so it’s something that I’ve worked on as an adult because I felt a lot of resentment about suffering through other people’s behavior. And once I started learning that I could control what I was exposed to and what I had to put up with and things like that, that it changed a lot of how I operate through the world. But I’m always learning. I don’t think I’m perfect at boundaries. Sometimes I have a hard time saying no. I discovered through your quiz that I’m a busy bee and I would prefer not to be quite the busy bee. So I’m interested in diving into that. I think those are the big things. 

Mary: Awesome. Awesome. So I would love to hear like maybe just an insight or two that you have had so far in learning boundaries before you met me. 

Cari: So one of the big boundary lessons that I’ve learned is with my mom, as an example, I call her a noise maker sometimes, which to me, that just means that she is talking about the same problem over and over again, but not, she’s not looking for advice and she isn’t willing to change anything about her position in that problem. And so that got really frustrating for me to listen to over and over again. And at some point I learned I can say, mom, I don’t really want to talk about this anymore. If you want to problem solve together, I’m open to problem solving, but if you just want to complain about this thing, I just need you to find a friend to talk to, because it’s just not that fun for me. And that’s been really, really successful. I don’t think that she loved it, but it wasn’t tragic. It didn’t turn into a huge big thing and it’s taken some repeats, I think, to get that into a better pattern for us. But now I don’t have to suffer through that anymore and I feel way better about that.

Mary: Yes. Good job. That is amazing. Yeah that’s great. I mean, that’s how boundaries work is that like, we have to learn them somewhere. So if we don’t learn them in our families, in our homes, or as young adults, then we learn that skill as adults. And that’s okay. Cause it’s a learned skill and it means that everyone can, can learn it. So good job on that one. I appreciate that. So you mentioned that you had taken the quiz on my website and that you learned that you were a busy bee. Tell me more about what you learned from that quiz.

Cari: Well, it’s not surprising to me that I’m a busy bee. I know that I’m busy. I feel busy a lot. When people see my calendar, they go, Whoa, almost universally. So that must mean something. I own a business. And so I feel like my brain is involved in my business a lot. Whether I’m technically working in that moment or not, it’s kind of hard to turn that off. And I want to rest more. I feel like I need to make myself rest and I’m still working on developing that. So right now I feel very all or nothing. I’m going a hundred miles an hour or I’m enforcing rest and I’m kind of doing nothing. So I would like to kind of find some more middle ground in there. Like, my rest is sitting on the couch reading, which I could probably do for 48 hours straight before I got so bored that I would need to do a million things again. So I don’t know what other hobbies might look like or other things that might take my time, but I feel, to me, it feels like a really big swing between brain dead doing nothing and doing all the things. 

Mary: Okay, so to listeners who maybe haven’t taken the quiz or don’t know what it means, the reference to being a busy bee, what can you share about what you learned from that?

Cari: I learned that, well, for one, my first big thing was oh, that’s a boundary issue like I just thought I was busy. I thought it was normal to be busy as a business owner. So that was big. That was a big takeaway. And the other thing I think is that like a realization that it could be some other way. Which sounds goofy because, of course, there’s all kinds of ways to be, but I think when we have kind of a default setting, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how we might be different and choosing something different.

Mary: So busyness is a sign of a boundaries problem. 

Cari: Apparently. 

Mary: How could that be true? What do you think about that, Cari? 

Cari: I’m not totally sure because I don’t feel like I say yes to everything. I don’t feel like I say yes to a ton of stuff I don’t want to do. I won’t say zero. I’m not that good. But I don’t get a lot of stuff on my calendar that I absolutely do not want to do, or that I feel forced into or guilted into. That’s very, very rare. So the stuff that keeps me busy, tends to be work things. And then I, I don’t want to say force myself to calendar in social things because I love social things. If they don’t get on the calendar, they don’t get done though. So I kind of have to plan for those. But then again, I feel like I only say yes to the stuff that I actually want to do. So I don’t know. I don’t know where I’m missing boundaries here. I need you to teach me. 

Mary: Well, maybe you’re not, maybe you just like to be busy. Is it? Maybe it’s not a problem for you. What do you think about that? 

Cari: That sounds better. I prefer that option for it to not be a problem. 

Mary: Okay, so just keep being busy then.

Cari: Okay, well that’s easy.

Mary: Like if you just need permission to be busy and you’re okay with being busy, then I think that that’s all right. That’s an option for you. 

Cari: Yeah, so does the trouble really come in when it is doing all the things for guilt or some other reason, something that you don’t want to do that’s keeping you busy. Like that’s the challenge.

Mary: Well, the problem with busyness is that we lose our peace of mind. So if our calendars are so full that we don’t feel like we have time for self care or we don’t feel like we can be present with the things that we have said yes to and we want to say yes to. Or we are trying to do more than we want to be doing, then we lose enjoyment, we lose connection to ourselves, we lose connection to people we love. We lose connection to our purpose and to something bigger than ourselves. Because our brains are just going from one thing to another and we’re not intentional about that. So that’s what I see happening. I think that’s the problem with busyness. What, what’s your experience? 

Cari: Yes, I have all that stuff. Okay. So we found the trouble. I do usually feel like I am frantically going from one thing to the next without a lot of breathing room in between. And that is challenging for sure, especially weeks and weeks and weeks of that on end make me want to just bury myself and do nothing for a long period of time. And self care does get challenging. I wish that I had more time to do things that are really like just for me that make zero difference to the world at large. Like I took off my toenail polish two weeks ago, haven’t repainted my toes cause I don’t have time but every time I see them, I’m like, damn, I really would like to paint my toenails. And that’s such a silly thing, but if you don’t want to screw them up, you need time to let them dry. And so, you know, call it an hour at least. Mm-Hmm, . And I do, I struggle finding those hours. I’m reasonably good at getting exercise in because it is a real part of my lifestyle and integral to my profession. But eating well and exercising on a mostly regular basis are probably the most consistent things that I do for self-care. And going to bed at a reasonable hour. I’m very particular about getting good sleep. 

Mary: Awesome. I love that. So when we start talking about scheduling and self care and things like that in my programs that I have for busy working women, especially, it’s like, okay, let’s start with your sleeping hours. Make sure you’ve got some sleeping hours. And then let’s get clear about how busy do you actually want to be? So I think that’s my next question for you, Cari, is how busy do you want to be? When you’re functioning as your best self and you do feel like you have peace of mind and you’re able to be present and you’re practicing self care and getting the best results in your business and connected to people you love. How much time would you be spending on the things that matter to you?

Cari: I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that. Probably at least another hour or two per day, per weekday, I’m pretty good about I rarely do work work on the weekends. So it’s really more of a Monday through Friday thing. But I’m generally working at 6 a. m. till sometimes 6 p. m. And then I try to go to bed by 830. So those like two and a half hours, I have to squeeze in dinner, which often I’m cooking, I have to bond and connect with my husband. I’ve got to play with my dog, all of those kinds of things. And then I do, I like to be in bed at 830, 830 to nine. So then I have a good 30 to 60 minutes for reading. So that’s important to me. And that yeah typically, almost exclusively gets done every day. But yeah, I think an extra hour or two, if I was done working by 4, 430, that would feel amazing. That would be a lot more time in my life. 

Mary: Okay, so a couple things I heard you say, I just want to notice… things like, if I could squeeze it in, if I could fit it in here, right? So when we try to squeeze self care in around an already full schedule, guess what happens? 

Cari: It’s more stressful and, or it gets pushed off and doesn’t get done.

Mary: Yeah. It’s either doesn’t get done or it’s more stressful to us, which kind of defeats the purpose of self care. Like what’s the purpose of self care? 

Cari: Caring for yourself, like recharging so you can do all the rest of the things that you want to do. 

Mary: Could be recharging, caring for yourself. I like caring for yourself a little bit better. So we take care of things that are important to us. Right? So we take care of people that we care about. We take care of our little dogs that we care about. We take care of our bodies if we care about them, we take care of our homes. Whatever is important to us, whatever we value, those are the things that we take care of. And I believe that you and me and each of us are valuable and worth taking care of. That that’s the reason why we practice self care is because we’re valuable and we are worth taking care of. 

Cari: Yeah, I love that. And I believe that, like a good part of my brain believes that. I think I find it hard to execute.

Mary: Yeah, you have some good things in place. I heard you say you have reading time. I heard you say you have good sleep practices. I heard you say that you’re doing well with exercise and nutrition. So you’ve got some things for sure in place. So I want to give you some credit there and celebrate what is working. And maybe the next step is to set some boundaries around what your working hours are and what your working hours are not. So when are your working hours? When you want them to be? 

Cari: I don’t love the early mornings, but I would rather work early mornings than later in the day. So to me, that feels like a reasonable trade off. I have 6am clients, two days a week. And I have resisted taking 6 a. m. clients on my remaining two days a week that are client days because I really dislike those early mornings. So, I would say 6 to 7 is a good start time for me, and since I’ve put it out there, I would really like to be done at 4 o’clock. Okay. And this conversation has made me think a long time ago, when I was in the corporate world, I worked for this very, very, very demanding company. And we had a minimum 10 hour work day by default. And most people worked 11 or 12 hours. And one woman I worked with, she was so rigorous with her calendar, like she was the person who was always out before anybody else and she was one of the highest performers. And then she had a baby and she got even more militant about it and I never understood how she could get so much done in so much less time than everybody else, but she had a really compelling reason and it’s making me think of that. If I was that important to myself as that woman’s baby was to her, then I would figure out how to best use the hours that I’m agreeing to myself to work, and then I would be done. 

Mary: Yeah, yeah, and I can offer you some tips for that.

Cari: I would love that because that sounds awesome.

Mary: Yeah, let’s do it. So one is decide. What your working hours are and what you’re working hours are not. I think you’re right, have a compelling reason to honor the non working hours. Another one is to be really clear with the results that we want to get during our working hours. Right? So instead of having appointments that are like, meet with this person, right? Like I would ask you, why do you want to meet with that person? How will you know that you’ve been successful for that time? What’s the result of each appointment that you have on your calendar, right? Especially the appointments that you have with yourself when there’s not a client there. Like what’s the result of that time? So for example if I have, you know, four phone calls to make in this hour, right? What’s the purpose of those phone calls? Is it nurturing my clients? Is it scheduling appointments for my family and their health? Is it taking care of my home? Like what’s the purpose and how will I know when I’ve achieved that? Making sure that we’re titling our appointments with a result that we want to get during that time.

Cari: Okay. 

Mary: So I’m not just working on things, I’m achieving a result every hour. 

Cari: So my, my time block that says admin time, this is not specific enough. 

Mary: Yes. Why do you want to have admin time? 

Cari: That is when I do social media stuff. It’s when I sit down at my computer and do things that are required to do at the computer, basically, because my service is like on my feet and away from an office, I feel like it’s hard for me to get in that computer time. So it was a big step up to put a block in the calendar and go, this is when you sit at your computer and do all the things you don’t get to do when you’re on the road every single day. Right. But I do often find that that time is like squirrely and kind of squishy and I do accomplish things during those time blocks, but I don’t always know if they’re like the most important things or if I’m doing tasks that are busy making tasks that that are important, but maybe they’re not the most important things, right?

Mary: So how could you take that squirrelly squishy time and make it more results based? 

Cari: So instead of having like a two and a half hour block of just plain admin time, I could ballpark like a 45 minutes for social media posting. And if I post three things or schedule a certain number of things, then I’ll know that I accomplished that task. Cleaning up my like booking system requires a little bit of time every week. So again, I could, I could break those into like smaller chunks of specific things that need to get done. 

Mary: Right, and shifting the language from not just how do you want to spend that time, but what do you want to accomplish in that time? So instead of social media, 45 minutes, I would say post three things on social media as the title of the appointment. 

Cari: Okay. 

Mary: Does that make sense?

Cari: Yeah. Yeah. 

Mary: Yeah. And choosing how much time you want to spend on each of those things. 

Cari: Mm hmm. That feels scary. 

Mary: How come?

Cari: Cause partly I feel like I don’t know what needs to happen every single time. So laying those things out ahead of time, like I just don’t know that I have all the answers that need to go into those time blocks. 

Mary: Who does? 

Cari: I don’t know. 

Mary: You do. Of course you do. 

Cari: I’m the only one. 

Mary: Of course you do. I, I think that there is some value to like, let’s have a framework, right? Let’s have a framework of this is the time I’m going to be spending in front of the computer. This is the time I’m going to be spending with clients. This is the time I’m going to be you know, whatever it is, doing things like I think those, Those blocks are important and also like, what’s your measurement of success for this block? Right. Yeah. And I recommend doing a results based calendar every week, especially if you’re a solopreneur.

Cari: Okay. That makes sense. I can, I can really see how that would feel better because I never feel like my work is done and I rarely feel like I have accomplished a lot. I feel like I’ve done a lot, but I don’t know that I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot as a really regular feeling. So but it would feel better to go, Oh, my calendar said post three things and I posted three things. Like, that’s very satisfying. 

Mary: For sure. Yeah, my other tip is to commit to a time to create this calendar for you. So what happens when we’re busy bees is that we have a constant like list in the back of our head. Like it’s a rolling list. Of all of the things that we think we need to be doing, all the things that, Hey, don’t forget this and tomorrow I’m going to do this. And then what about that? And it’s just ongoing all the time. 

Cari: It’s like you’re in here. 

Mary: I’m in your head. 

Cari: Yes. That’s what it’s like in there. 

Mary: And that’s exhausting. That has to feel exhausting. So I set an appointment with myself on Monday mornings where I do a complete brain dump and I get everything out of my head in my business and my personal life for my family, for all the things, chores for the house, all the things that I want to get done that week and do a complete brain dump. And then I start working my list and commit to making decisions about my calendar during that time, so that I don’t have to make decisions about my calendar all the rest of the week, I don’t do it every single day. I’m not going to do it throughout the day. I’m just going to commit to one hour on Monday morning, I’m going to create my calendar. The rest of the week I just make and keep those commitments to myself. I just follow my appointments because I know on Monday morning when I was thinking out of the best parts of my brain and my frontal cortex, I decided that I wanted to create this podcast on Thursday afternoon.

Cari: That makes sense. And that has been a hang up for getting more clear, more organized, more something is the time commitment that it takes to do that. In my brain I’m always like, Well, when do I have time? When do I have time to get organized to be better at my time? 

Mary: What’s the cost for you of not organizing your time?

Cari: Continuing to feel really frantic and not having enough breathing room, like, yeah, continuing to feel the way I do now, I don’t really feel in control of my calendar, even though I am. I’m the one putting all the things in all of the places. Like you’ve helped me really see a picture of how rewarding doing it a different way could be. 

Mary: Yeah. How rewarding could it be? Like what becomes possible then? 

Cari: Well, for one, I could be off work earlier, which would be amazing. But better than that, I would feel great about being off work earlier because I know what I accomplished for that day. And it would be the things that I set out, like you said, on Mondays, with the best part of my brain, when I had the like, time and space to pay attention and make a good strategic plan, and then as those hours and days go by, accomplishing the pieces of that good strategic plan, that, that’s very enticing.

Mary: Yeah, and it’s possible. 

Cari: Okay. I think I’m like 85 percent of the way to believing that for me, I believe it’s possible. 

Mary: So what’s bringing you up to this 85 percent that makes you think it, you could believe it?

Cari: Well, I know other people can and do do this. So there’s that, and I have lots of proof to myself of learning new skills and practicing new things and excelling at some of them and being reasonably good at some of them. And so I like, I’ve got proof that I can be a different way or learn a new thing and execute a new thing.

Mary: Awesome. And what’s could move you forward to maybe 90, 95%? 

Cari: Putting the time on my calendar like, to get organized. Like, I think I could book that Monday morning time immediately. I think that’s actually a time that is available to me. I don’t have to change anything. I just have to put that on the calendar. And I generally do what my calendar says. 

Mary: Yeah. And that’s the way that we actually build confidence is by making, keeping commitments to ourselves. So there’s this myth out there that like some people are just confident and some people are just not. And that’s not true at all. The way that we build confidence is we make a commitment, we keep that commitment, then we learn to trust ourselves. Then we make another commitment, we keep that commitment and we learn to trust ourselves. You probably know this from your work with people in the fitness kind of world and health and wellness, right? So the same thing happens with our time management and with our calendars is we learn that if I put something on my calendar and I keep that appointment with myself and I get the result that I wanted during that time, then I trust I can do that. And we do that over and over and you get to a place where you’re like, of course I have all the time that I need. Of course, I’m done working at four o’clock because I kept all those appointments with myself. Yeah. And then we also learned when we want to make an exception and we can feel really good about it and do it with intention instead of you know, shame or guilt after that. Mm 

Cari: hmm. Yeah, okay. You’ve bumped me up. I’m at 98%.

Mary: 98%! Yay! I know you can do it! You got this, girl! 

Cari: When we’re off the call, I’m gonna put it in on Mondays. I think after next Monday, maybe that’ll get me to 100. 

Mary: And if it’s helpful, you can try out our group, cause I have a group of people and we do this together for accountability every Monday and it works great! 

Cari: That’s amazing! I did not know that. 

Mary: Yeah, you can come visit us where we’ll be there on Monday and you’re welcome to join us. And I’d be happy to uh, have you try it out and see if that is helpful to you. I’ve got a whole process that we go through and we actually create our calendars during our Monday morning call and then come back the next week and are accountable to each other. And I love it. I won’t do it any other way from now on.

Cari: That sounds amazing. 

Mary: Yeah, so you’re welcome to join us. Alright, what’s your takeaway from our call today? 

Cari: That I have not been the boss of my calendar the way that I thought. I really thought that I was doing great by not saying yes to a bunch of stuff that I didn’t want to say yes to. And that is great. That is a good skill. But I, I didn’t realize how much more room there was to grow. So I’m actually excited about that because I, I don’t like feeling frantic. It’s the thing that I complain about the most probably. And I am excited about feeling peaceful and in control of my days. That, that sounds so nice. And I feel, I actually feel really empowered to do that. And I didn’t expect that in these last, I don’t know, 20 minutes or whatever. That feels like magic. 

Mary: That is magic. And the magic of having boundaries with our calendars is we get better results and peace of mind. 

Cari: Yeah, I want both of those things.

Mary: Yeah. Awesome. Thanks for being here, Cari. We appreciate you. 

Cari: Yes. Thank you. I appreciate you. 

Mary: All right. Take care.