How do you feel if you hear, say, or even think the words "I'm busy"?
If you're anything like the people I've asked recently - or me until very recently - you'll probably have a negative image.
Chances are you associate the phrase with being overworked and stressed, and with not having enough time to relax or do things you'd like to do. You're probably not going to say "I'm busy" in a jolly, upbeat voice.
Which is why I couldn't help but notice that recently I've been smiling while being busy. Turns out, for me at least, that there are different ways of being busy, and some are much better than others.
In my last post I talked about consciously using my phone a lot less during September, and I'm keeping it going into October. It's making an enormous difference.
It's shocking how much we stare at the bloody things. If it's not our phones, it could be computers or the TV. Basically, we spend too much time looking at screens.
I was wasting loads of time staring at screens. I say wasting because since I haven't been staring at them, I feel like I have loads of free time. It's genuinely shocking.
I also feel happier. I always thought I wouldn't fall pray to the dreaded fear of missing out, but in my own way, I was. I was constantly checking the news and half-reading articles simply to pass the time.
The act of looking up from the screen has had knock-on effects that I didn't see coming.
The vicious circle of busyness
When I was wasting time looking at my phone, I was constantly feeling rushed and busy. I felt like I had no time to do anything. I was snappy with my family, and felt under constant pressure. I had no time to exercise, I was eating badly, and my health was suffering.
But can I really blame all of this on my phone? Yeah, it seems I can.
Until recently I'd wake up and one of the very first things I'd do was check the news on my phone. I'd probably have it in my hand again while eating breakfast.
Then I'd look at it on the train to work. And at work. Then again on the train home.
As soon as I got home, I'd be checking something on my phone. Perhaps even while eating.
When I added up all that time, I was appalled. I wasn't busy, I was wasting huge chunks of my day.
Now if I'm alone and I've got 10 or 15 minutes to spare I'll tidy a room in the house, vacuum, do the dishes, do the laundry, start preparing dinner, do a bit of work, or maybe meditate. I might even take a quick stroll to the river near my house and enjoy nature for a bit. If I have a little longer, I'll go for a run or bike ride.
If I'm with my family, we'll go to the park (or even the mountains or ocean), or we'll do something together at home. Increasingly, we'll spend a night or two at the weekend in a cabin or tent.
I don't my kids I'm busy while I'm looking at my phone. I'm not busy; I'm being inattentive, rude, and downright selfish.
I was telling myself I was busy because I was being utterly daft with the way I used my time.
Busy and loving it
Now I'm busy in very different ways.
I'm busy enjoying time with my family, mainly going outdoors and doing stuff that's fun and good for us.
I'm busy writing and making things for some business projects I'm working on, two of which involve my kids (in very fun ways).
I'm busy working on my health and fitness, including spending more time making healthy meals and choosing fresh fruit and other healthy snacks instead of cakes and other crap.
I'm busy sorting through the mounds of stuff we've managed to accumulate in our house, making it a much simpler, nicer place to be.
I'm busy reading books and enjoying the joys of reading again.
In short, I'm busy avoiding my phone and feeling 100% better for it.