Busy and Burnt Out: Not a Badge of Honour

“I am just too busy!”


I have caught myself saying this countless times. However, busy is the badge we wear to make excuses for when we sometimes fail to prioritize. If you are too busy to show up it means you were not prepared to make it a priority in the first place.

“I am too busy to work out,” or, “I am too busy to go for lunch,” are two excuses I have made in the past. I still have my days where I want to cop out because I feel overwhelmingly busy, but I remind myself that busy is a choice.

I choose to make commitments that interfere with my workout regime, or I choose to work through lunch because I think I will get more done. The fact of the matter is, being too busy to take care of myself always, without fail, leads to burnout, making neither a badge of honour.

I make excuses about why I cannot eat three healthy meals a day, why I cannot walk my dog because I need to respond to a few more client emails, but in reality, it is BS.

I know better and, so do you. 

You do not owe anyone an explanation. If you do not want to make their “thing” your priority, just say so. We each have 24 hours in a day and we get to choose how to spend them and honour our time. I honour my eight hours of sleep each night because I know if I don’t, I will be more grumpy than grumpy cat. I honour my dog walking time because I know if I don’t, I won’t get any fresh air and my dog will destroy my apartment.

You may be sitting there thinking, “You make it sound so easy.” But, it is not. I say this so confidently because I am trying to convince myself as well. I have a long history of prioritizing achievement over my health and I have learned that it does not work. Yet, it still takes convincing myself every day to slow down and treat myself right.

I used to think that if I slept less and did more I would be more successful and that this success would lead to my happiness, but I was wrong.

When I was younger I would study for hours on end, I would over-commit to part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities, and I got really REALLY sick as a result. I had mono and shingles within a three-year period and then had recurring stress induced strep-throat so bad that I would end up at the doctor every few months on antibiotics. I was not healthy or happy, and it was not a good look for me.

I learned by necessity and the universe giving me a kick in the pants. I needed to slow down and prioritize my commitments according to ME and how I define success and happiness, not how the world did.

This last May, I went on a vacation at the same time I launched my online business full-time. I thought I was crazy, taking a break in the middle of all the madness. But, it worked. I had a, “Screw it I am on vacation,” attitude and only worked three to four hours per day and still managed to secure a handful of clients in the first month of business. This might be easy enough when on vacation, forcing your mind to slow down and smell the roses, but what about in the day to day grind?

I have three things that I do for myself that you may find helpful, but the trick is figuring out what works for you.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Remind yourself why you deserve to honour your time

2. Block “me” time and break space in your calendar

3. Have an accountability buddy (I have a gym friend and my dog!)

Honour your time, you deserve it

The way I remind myself that I deserve a break is by literally telling myself why I deserve a break. As soon as I feel like I need one and the excuses start boiling up, I get out my journal. I write down all the reasons why I deserve a break, and why burning out is not a productive end goal. There is evidence to prove it! By the time I am done writing I have taken enough of a step back from the task at hand that it does not seem as overwhelming anymore.

This sometimes looks like reflecting on and being grateful for all the things I have already accomplished or reminding myself that my end goal is a balanced life filled with the things I love. Journaling helps keep me on track, ensuring alignment between my actions and my goals. 

Block your “me” time

I block “Doggo Walks” in my calendar for an hour and a half every day, which mitigates the risk of people booking over my time. I also have Saturdays blocked off to take care of myself and get things done around the house. I am getting better at honouring this time now that it is blocked in my calendar. I even block lunch and dinner breaks so that I do not forget to eat!

Block the time that you need to feel balanced. If you are not sure where to start, brainstorm all the things you need to have a happy and balanced day (or week). This should give you some ideas of what you need. It might be gym time, nap time, reading time, cooking time, or simply a 15-minute coffee break every couple of hours.

Whatever it is, or isn’t, start by blocking the time you think you need and monitoring how you feel when you take it. There are not any hard or fast rules, it just has to resonate with you and feel right.

Who can help keep you accountable?

For me, it’s my dog. She will not let me work after a certain hour if she has not had her daily walk. She knows better. Now, I know better too. She will whine, bark, jump on my lap and paw at me until I take her for her walk – this is a great accountability buddy!

My gym friend also helps to keep me accountable. When I make plans to take a break and go to the gym (or for the most part, spin class), I like to plan it with a friend. This way, I am less likely to bail last minute, as someone else is counting on me to be there with him or her. After all, Woody Allen says, “80% of success is just showing up.”

I encourage you to answer the question, “Who can help keep you accountable to your balance goals?” so you are not saying, “I am too busy,” to all the things you love and want to do. You deserve all the wonderful things that a balanced life has to offer and it won’t be soon before long that you’ll start to realize it too.


Words by Kaylee Houde (www.khcareercoaching.com)