Being Busy & Accomplishing Nothing | What I Learned

Two years ago, I was an overwhelmed mess. I wanted to do everything all the time. I labeled myself more of a failure than I did anything else because I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. I had all of these “goals”. They were mapped out perfectly – step-by-step plans that, had I been serious about any of them, I could have succeeded at. 

But you know, the problem with trying to be “all the things” and DO “all the things” is that you overwhelm yourself into doing nothing at all. 

For most of my twenties, I created goals I wanted to accomplish each year that I inevitably beat myself up for later that year because I hadn’t accomplished anything. 

I’d suck it up, proclaim that the next year I was going to “go after greatness” and do it all over again. What kept me in this cycle? 

The illusion of busyness. 

As those years progressed, I thought I was accomplishing something because my schedule was always packed. I stayed on the go – I was working hard! 

The truth of the matter was I had a habit of making big goals, filling my calendar with all the things and showing up for everyone but myself. I got nothing done. I was stressed. Overwhelmed. Tired even when I slept eight hours.

What I failed to realize was that I wasn’t always doing things that were purpose driven. I was showing up for everyone and neglecting the work I needed to put into myself and I was paying for it. 

Here are a few things I learned to pivot in my life. 

Get comfortable with the word no. 

So many of the things we take on are usually for other people and are a distraction. 

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with showing up for family or friends on occasion, but not at the expense of yourself. You have to become ok with saying:

“Sorry, I wish I could but my schedule won’t allow it.”

“That sounds amazing! I won’t be able to attend, but how can I still support you?”

“No, thank you.”


Don’t out low priority items on your to-do list just because you hate telling someone no. Once you say the first no, it gets easier. You risk sacrificing your time and energy for something your heart isn’t into. I learned to stop doing that to myself. 

If your heart’s not in it, take it off your calendar. 

I told myself this and then found nothing on my calendar. 

Sometimes you just need to sit down and not do anything! Society has taught us that we should be doing something but that’s not always the case. 

It will free you up to think about the things you could be spending your time doing that you actually like to do. 

I was able to start connecting to my true self, to God. 

So often we fill our time with things that don’t matter or align with who we want to grow to be. I say evaluate how you’d want to spend your time and then fill your calendar with those things first. Anything else that isn’t on that list and that doesn’t connect you to the things that are important to you, simply decline. 

Just because they are good goals doesn’t mean they have to get done now. 

Goals are just that – goals. They sound good. They’re wonderful, productive ideas for our life that could potentially happen. 

But is it what God wants me to focus on right now? (Or at all for that matter?)

I can’t tell you the list of good goals I have stashed away for a later date. Just because they aren’t a priority this year doesn’t mean they won’t be two years from now. 

Ask God to point you in the direction of the things that should be your focus instead of trying to do everything at once. You hurt yourself more than help when you do things that way. 

Don’t fill your schedule with things that aren’t true to you just because someone else is doing it or says you should be

This touches a bit on comparison, but sometimes you have to ask yourself – am I doing this because it’s a priority to me and my future or because it’s what someone else did that worked for them and now I want to try it? There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by others – I constantly am. But sometimes we get so caught up in bouncing from one person’s idea to the next and trying to implement them all that we lose sight of ourselves. 

Start asking yourself if this will matter when you’re 80.

Lara Casey, the creator of Powersheets, phrased this question and it has stuck with me (I’m sure I’ve mentioned it here on the blog before). When you think ahead to when you’re 80 sitting on your porch or in your living room reviewing your life, will that extra thing matter? Is that goal at the essence of who you are or what you want to be known for? How is it related to the legacy you want to leave your children’s children? 

Instead, think about the things that will matter and begin to shape your life according to the best possible outcome you want for your 80 year old self. 

When you feel like you’ve scheduled yourself into overwhelm, Myleik Teele said to ask these three things:

  • Does this need to be done?
  • Does it need to be done right now?
  • Does it need to be done by me?

We don’t have to do everything or be everything for anyone. We don’t have to show up everywhere. We don’t even have to adhere to every goal we started the new year with. 

Figure out your purpose zone. Don’t waste time doing every little thing when God hasn’t called you to everything (or everyone).

Remember: You don’t have to catch up to what someone else is doing. 

Who told you you were behind?

Just stop being busy for busyness sake and craft a purposeful life that you can thrive in.

4 thoughts on “Being Busy & Accomplishing Nothing | What I Learned

  1. Okay, favorite quote from this post “If your heart’s not in it, take it off your calendar. 
    I told myself this and then found nothing on my calendar. “
    Boom! I think to some degree we’re taught to serve and help because being selfless is what’s up… But like, where’s the balance that leads to fulfillment? That’s rhetorical of course, but it just makes me wonder because I struggled with helping and supporting and not really having time for myself, friends or family. That equals no relationships, which is detrimental to your survival. So yea, this post took me down a different rabbit hole, but I appreciate your thoughts on the subject!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem! Sometimes it happens in seasons for me. I notice I haven’t made time for myself and nothing connects. Other times everything connects and I’m all in to help. It’s definitely give and take until you find the harmony between serving others and protecting your yourself and those relationships.

      Liked by 1 person

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