It’s tough not to be overstressed these days. With all the roles we women play every day – mom, employee, caregiver, interior decorator, organizational expert, dog chauffeur, medical consultant, political activist, court jester, chief of the committee to take down the patriarchy… – it’s only logical that we’d feel overworked and overwhelmed most of the time.
But have you ever considered the possibility that you might actually like being too busy?
That in fact, you might get the same kind of giddy high from having too much to do that you get when you fall IN LOVE? If you’re measuring your value and purpose by a full calendar or the fact that your in-box is always full and your cell phone never stops blowing up, chances are you’ve formed an unhealthy relationship with busyness.
Take this quiz to see whether it’s time to move on to a less busy, lower-stress life.
When it comes to “multitasking,” do you:
a) Try hard to never do more than one or two things at a time, even if you do fail sometimes.
b) Juggle as much as you need to in order to make it through your day. And if someone tosses a lit torch into the mix, you just up your game.
c) Compete with your friends to see who can keep the most balls, projects, kids, exes, headless Barbies, half-eaten stalks of kale, etc. in the air.
When you look at your calendar, which of the following would make you feel best?
a) Lots of unscheduled time so you’re free to have a leisurely coffee with friends or write that screenplay in which you kill off a Supreme Court justice.
b) A mostly full day, but with enough flexibility, so you’re busy enough to feel important, but can still manage to make it to the bathroom when nature calls.
c) So many scheduled activities that if you had time, you’d enroll in a robotics classes at night so you could learn to build a robot double.
If you suddenly had a whole day free to do whatever you wanted, what would be your first thought?
a) Good, I can sleep in! I don’t have to see the sun come up!
b) What appointment did I forget to write down? I know this will come back to bite me in the ass!
c) Nobody needs me to be somewhere at some specific time! I’m a worthless human being!
When someone asks you to do something for them and you are very busy, do you:
a) Thank them for asking and turn them down nicely.
b) Agree to help out, but write yourself a note not to cave in again. Later, you find that note and won’t be able to read what it says because you tried writing it in cursive.
c) Say “Yes, yes, oh my goddess, yes” because it’s a chance to prove how invaluable you are to the universe, which you know is always watching and will give you a heart attack if you ever turn someone down.
As you go through your day which of the following phrases is most likely to run through your head?
a) Wow, what fun!
b) Who is that woman walking towards me and where do I know her from? Is she my sister?
c) Come on people! Speed up or get out of my way!
When a friend or co-worker tells you how busy she is lately, what would be your first response?
a) Helpfully suggest she take some time off. Offer to take her to lunch.
b) Sigh and say you know how she feels. Then tell her stories about how busy you are. c) Fake a phone call because you’re too busy to actually listen to anyone else’s problems.
If you were stuck at the airport for an extra hour, would you be most likely to:
a) Enjoy a relaxing conversation with a stranger.
b) Check your voicemail, your e-mail, your tweets, your FB page, your Instagram account, and your Linked-In profile in case something pressing needs your attention.
c) Offer to re-organize the ticketing desk because you have a better system.
When your kids and/or spouse see you at the end of the day, do they:
a) Excitedly tell you about their day.
b) Give you a few minutes to yourself because you scare them a little, especially before you’ve had that first glass of wine.
c) Call 911 because it’s been so long since you’ve been home they forgot what you look like, especially with those huge bags under your eyes.
Which fairy tale or cartoon character best reflects your life?
a) Sleeping Beauty – I know the importance of rest and rejuvenation.
b) Snow White – I’d really like to delegate things to the dwarfs, but I usually end up doing everything myself because I don’t like the way they do things.
c) The Tasmanian Devil – I’m more comfortable spinning around as fast as possible and creating more for myself to do.
When you lie in bed at night right before falling asleep, which are you more likely to do?
a) Give thanks for all the wonderful people and things in your life.
b) Run through the next day’s schedule in your head, getting up several times to check your computer to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, but while there you decide to go ahead and get some work done to get a head start.
c) Sleep? Sleep is for lesser women who aren’t amazing at doing everything all the time.
Give yourself one point for every “a” answer, two for every “b,” and three for every “c”.
1-10 You’ve got a healthy relationship with busyness. You understand that there is more to life than cramming as many chores in as possible. Recommendation: Keep doing what you’re doing, but resist the urge to become a mentor to others!
11-20 Although you think you’ve got a handle on things, when the chips are down, you tend to “Just say yes” to busyness. A little voice in our head always reminds you that there are other women out there who are doing more and looking better doing it. Recommendation: Go through next week’s calendar and delete at least one meeting or appointment. You know that awesome feeling you get when someone cancels a meeting? You can be the one who helps someone else feel that sense of relief, while at the same time, freeing up some of your own time! Do not allow someone else to claim that empty space. It’s yours. Enjoy! Drink some tea. Read a book. Hire a hunky massage therapist. Whatever.
21-30 You measure your success by how overworked you are. Being crazy-busy gives you a sense of power and makes you feel superior to your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. But your body and mind (not to mention your family and friends) are probably already suffering the consequences of your choices. Recommendation: You need to break up with busyness. I’d suggest a month-long vacation, but you’re not likely to do that, so instead, try finding a better way to define who you are other than “the one who does it all.” You could be the one who sings karaoke, the one who makes everyone laugh, or the one who goes for hikes on the weekend wearing a banana costume.
*An earlier version of this article appeared in How’d All These Ping Pong Balls Get in My Bag: The Stressed-Out Woman’s Guide to Letting Go with Laughter by Leigh Anne Jasheway.