You’re doing that busy thing again, aren’t you?

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash
Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

CALLING ALL THOSE BUSY PEOPLE with a bulging inbox and a selection of to do lists designed to make them FEEL in control!

You know who you are.

It’s all OUT of control and you keep TRYING to do better.  Reorganising, refiling, building a NEW system that’s definitely better than the last one…

You wake up overwhelmed.  You open your eyes in the morning and you’re already late.  There isn’t enough time in the day.  You can’t possibly get it all done.

I hear you.  I know this pain.  Truly.

For some people the scales create fear.  For me, it’s the clock. 

Just the number flashing up can make me turn into a spin some days.  And not in a dance floor kinda way.

I’m making up I’m not alone. There’s a buzz in the air, that says a special day is on its way that sends all of us busy list-y, bulging inboxy type people into a whole new level of dance.

One of those DAYS that apparently needs 12 weeks to plan.


If you look around you, apparently so.

People are already putting their heads down, muttering away to themselves about how much they’ve got to do, places they need to go, people they must see (despite the fact they haven’t seen them for a whole year sometimes) ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE.

Well its clear to both of us that there isn’t much joy in that.

I get it.

I feel super lucky.

As a coach and Co-Leader in Somebody Inside, I’m committed to creating a life I truly want to live.  I’m not much use to you if I’m showing you how I’m still doing exactly the thing you want to stop doing.

Now when I look at my calendar, I know that everything in there has been chosen. I’ve made CONSCIOUS choices. Not half-hearted decisions. I’m committed to what I’m going to be doing.

It wasn’t always so.

For years, I had a life where I was so busy being busy I didn’t even notice I was busy.

The days passed in a haze. I got up, switched myself on and literally didn’t stop till bedtime. Even then, I didn’t switch off. Physically exhausted, my mind would race. Going over all the things I had done and offering ways I could have done it differently. Conversations I’d had and imaginary ones I should have had if only I’d got it right. Most importantly, racing through ALL THE THINGS I STILL HADN’T DONE.

No matter how hard I had worked it still wasn’t enough. There was always more.

I felt like I wasn’t enough.

Time for new tactics…

I tried setting the alarm and getting up earlier. The number started with a 6.

This worked for a while because I had at least got something off the list before others had even got out of their beds. I WAS AHEAD.

Until they started to reply. No, I’m writing to YOU, don’t write back – you’re filling my inbox again!

I changed the alarm and got up earlier. The number started with a 5.

Excellent move.

Out of bed, phone on and away we go. Just checking so I know what’s on for the rest of the day. Clearing out any quickies, I strolled into the office feeling like I could breathe because I WAS ON TOP. For a nano second.

The days were full. Meetings literally back to back. No time for a loo break. Every meeting ran late because there wasn’t even time to get from one room to another never mind across campus.

(Note to self – MUST GET FITTER.   Add that to the list)

In the meantime, eat as you go. That’s another way to save time.


You’d come out of the last meeting totally wiped. Then remember – now I have to do the actions.

Oh man.

Let’s peek in the inbox for distraction.

Ding ding ding. Nope not the home time bell – the noise of everyone else’s emails hitting my screen.


I. am. not. getting. up. at. 4.

I had another option. I tried working later. It started with a 6 (yep still banking the getting up earlier of course. That’s 13 hours and counting)…

It was lovely watching the office empty and the noise of the day starring to quieten down. You’d even start to see some folks you hadn’t seen before – hunched over their laptops committing to being there “just one more hour”.

There was more space to think. Only trouble was I was exhausted. As people were leaving I’d head down to the canteen and get myself another coffee and some sugar.

Harder work + more hours = more caffeine + more sugar + still exhausted. 


At first I didn’t notice it – I was busy just doing what I was doing.

Trying to KEEP UP.

Working later worked for a while. I got a bit more done. I felt in CONTROL.

More please.

I stayed till 7 (+14 hours now if you’re counting).

I had my dinner at work because that way when I left I was really done.

(If I left it any later then when I got home I’d be eating Frosties. Great choice).

It felt good though to walk out of the office knowing that at least I knew what I had to do tomorrow.

Monday-Friday 5am to 7…8…9pm…

It felt like the harder I worked, the longer the hours and it still wasn’t enough.


Monday to Friday.

Monday to Saturday.

Monday to…..

I was becoming grey. Worn out. Dull. One dimensional.


I was a walking talking to do list.

In truth, nothing was getting done.

Nothing important anyway.


This was what was really happening;

I was scatter gunning everything.

Starting and finishing nothing.

Emails opened, closed, I’ll come back to them. One day. Never.

In meetings. Kind of. Well my body was.

Constantly thinking “please please please don’t give me something else TO DO”.

Going slower and slower and slower.

I had the sense I was going backwards on a treadmill that was moving faster and faster.  It was out of control.

Why am I sharing this now I have stopped all that and rebooted?

Certainly, not to say I’m the smug one that sorted it all out.

Two reasons;

  1. Because I see how easy it is to re-create it.  There are still days I do bonkers stuff.
  2. I see so many others falling into the same trap.

It is a trap.  Make no mistake.

For so long I carried the belief that hours were the key to success. That if I just worked harder, I could be in control.  This is how everyone survives around here.  It’s the CULTURE.  The way it is.


Probably not.

We were CREATING it. All doing the same dance. None of us wanting to be the one left out. To be exposed. To be the one that didn’t have an answer or the one people were waiting on.

We were addicted to DOING. To SURVIVING.

It was like a static, a hum that you could hear coming off people.  A 24/7 human generator.

Human Do’ers.

There was no BEING.


I know it’s not just me. I’ve been with an awesome friend and Mother this weekend. She’s raising a wee one on her own and trust me there ain’t no Lady more efficient than her. She has it nailed. Except for the big stuff.  She’s doing everything till she can’t physically lift her head off the floor.

It’s our disease and we spread it to each other.

Check out this list and see if any of them represent your life:

  • You see any aspect of self-care as something to be “done”. Put it at the bottom of your “to do” list knowing full well that it just won’t happen.
  • Better yet, pretend that self-care is something you don’t need – it’s for those woo-woo folks who should just man up.
  • Eat for a sugar/caffeine high several times a day and pretend you’re feeling energetic.
  • Spend a fortune on amazing beauty products to give you a glowing complexion when underneath your skin is telling you quite a different story. Pretend to anyone who asks that you are feeling fabulous daaaarling.
  • Have a wonderful weekend away with family and friends and attempt to bank the benefits for the whole year.
  • Check your phone every ten minutes, proving you are ON it. Never switch off.
  • Check your emails/Facebook first thing in the morning, last thing at night. Just in cases…
  • Cover your house with post it notes of everything you HAVE TO DO. As soon as one looks like its done, write another. QUICK.
  • Be addicted to validation and perfection. Unless everyone is happy and saying so, know your work is never done and commit to working even harder.
  • Make it your ROLE to look after everyone else. At all times. You don’t count. Unless you want to be seen as selfish…
  • Work weekends and evenings.  Always.
  • Believe you have to do everything on your own.  Never ask for help.

If any of these sound familiar, please STOP.

You won’t get ahead doing this. Not in life.

You won’t become more successful. Not at the things that really matter.

You can’t catch up. Whatever you clear, will be replaced. Just like digging a hole in sand.

You WILL run the risk of creating a life that’s more about obligation and duty than laughter and joy.

You WILL help make others feel like you are some kind of wonder woman and surely they should be too.

You KNOW this.


Yet we’re still doing it.

Don’t feel alone. Feel heartened. You’re in good company.

This call out is to women far and wide.

A call to our hearts and to our inner wisdom.   Let’s choose something different.

Life is whizzing by in the blink of an eye. Its precious.

And this is a deep dive topic

For now though THIS:

I wanted to make sure you could no longer pretend not to know this.

It might not be time for wholesale changes right now.

It surely must be time to recognise that the ONLY person to care enough to do anything about this is YOU.

This is YOUR life.

What is one thing you can commit to stop doing right now?

Decide and take that time back for you.  Even if it’s ten minutes.  It counts.  Take one step to being free of this dance.

Allow yourself to be something you choose today.  Happy.  Calm.  Peaceful.  You.

Because, well, you know the line – you’re worth it.

Now you know better you can CHOOSE better.  Make it easy.

Love you even when you’re doing the busy twirl.

Nic xx

Ps Me?

When I’ve finished a piece of work I will stop going back to it, editing, perfecting, tweaking. leave it. Done. Honestly D, pinkie promise!

3 thoughts on “You’re doing that busy thing again, aren’t you?”

  1. Nic, for one minute I thought I was reading my life story, what you say is so true… get in early so no one can disturb you, work later because everyone has gone and it’s quiet Suddenly by Thursday lunch you have already done your working week. The next day and a half your working for free….. until I changed my working pattern and took control I now do 5 over 4 so I still do those mad hours but Friday is my day it’s Yoga, sleep in, no alarm day. It’s my catch up with family and friends take the grandchildren to school or pick them up. Do lunch and it’s mad me realise what’s important. I love all your blogs and it all makes so much sense… Pam

  2. This is my story too Nic. Always struggling to keep up, permanently exhausted and washed out.

    Feel guilty for leaving the office at 6-6.30 to get my children despite having done 8/9 hours work. Then feel the dread about going home to start the ‘mother duties’. I never have time for the kids, always deptioritising fun for chores and practicalities.

    Stop the bus….. I want to get off!!!!

    I’m in hospital today, had s little operation. In recovery and it’s the first time I’ve had any quiet time to myself to reflect.

    I need to make some changes. I want to continue doing the work I love and having a successful career without all of the pressure.



    1. Thank you for sharing.

      Know this; YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

      Read that line again.


      For so many women this is their life. And just like you (and for me) there is a deep desire to”get off the bus” just as you say matched often with a sense of overwhelm because they don’t know how to do it!

      Oh if only they taught us THAT at school!!!

      First things first notice the words you (and Pam who I responded to privately) wrote; this is my STORY.

      That’s right – its a story. Its one we believe in so we keep re-creating.

      I am too busy to…for…
      I need to work late to…because…
      There is never enough time…
      My children, partner, husband, dog, need me to….look after/care for/love them….
      If I don’t do this then….
      I know I am important but….

      And its precisely how we create lives full of obligation, guilt, exhaustion and the rest. We BELIEVE we NEED to do this in order for something else to be ok.

      So lets start there, looking at your beliefs. (Its fantastic that you are on our Sisterhood programme as there’s masses of practical tools and techniques to help you discover exactly what’s holding you back – and crucially how to clean them up!)


      If you could design a different story for yourself – what would THAT be?

      I was going to say speedy recovery – and actually no, take your time. Sounds like you’re getting the perfect rest :-)’

      Big cuddle

      Nic x

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