Breaking Up with Busy: Real-Life Solutions for Overscheduled Women

Women today have reset the bar, and it’s high. They collectively aim into the stratosphere: to be the most creative and dynamic professionals, the parents with all the answers, the most understanding and loving partners, and the best and most reliable friends. Their perfectionistic expectations have led to an unrealistic and terribly demanding mind-set, and they multitask from one event to another, silently murmuring under their exhausted, coffee-soaked breath, “Something’s got to give. I’m tired of it always being me!”

In Breaking Up with Busy: Real-Life Solutions for Overscheduled Women, author Yvonne Tally offers practical, effective solutions to the frustrations caused by a time-strapped lifestyle. We hope you’ll enjoy this Q an A with Yvonne about the book. Curtesy of New World Library.

You start Breaking Up with Busy by saying that “I’m busy” is the new “I’m fine.” How so?

Not too long ago, our culture was more private, especially in public. “I’m fine,” has long been a polite but not particularly revealing greeting. “I’m fine,” can also convey a deeper message of “don’t ask anymore,” or “let’s move on.” It was the entrée to exit a conversation or engage further. And in a culture that conditions so many of us to fake happiness, “I’m fine” projected an image of having it all together. How did we get from fine to busy? When economies grow and incomes rise, time is seen as more valuable. We don’t want to waste it, so, we pack in as much as we can in every moment of the day and end up busy. Very busy. Today there is a status attached to being busy; it makes us feel more important and valuable. And thanks to technology and social media, we’re reminded constantly that everyone is busy, and it has become a new normal. “I’m busy” is so subtle, yet so recognizable as a way to connect with others we identify with that are also busy. It says You get me and I get you, and nothing else needs to be said. Just like “I’m fine” was once the signal that we can move on, “I’m busy” now does the same, and it lets our peers know, “I’m important because I’m busy just like you.”

You had quite a health scare that inspired you to do this work. Tell us about that.

I was so busy teaching others how to live a vibrant and healthy lifestyle, growing a business, and raising my daughter as a single mom, that I missed my own signs of busy and overscheduled. My fast pace, sleepless nights, and crammed schedules landed me in a hospital emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack when in fact I was having a panic attack brought on by stress. It scared me enough that I made a huge lifestyle shift. I adopted a much more mindful approach to my life on a daily basis.

What is an OSW and how can women tell if they are one?

I think most women have felt like an Overscheduled Woman, or OSW, at some point in their lives, especially when family and career are being built simultaneously. And many of my clients who do not have children, have experienced the same expectations and demands, especially when it comes to their careers.  The get-it-done attitude is deeply embedded in the OSW ideology. An OSW frequently opts out of doing something for herself when someone else close to her requests her time. She often puts herself last and has a variegated sense of doing too much and not doing enough. In the book I say, “… the tribal chant is to make it happen, get it done, be the best, give it your all – and then do it again.” This imbalance between obligation and expectation and the lack of personal replenishment leaves many women feeling as though they just can’t catch up with their lives. That’s the OSW.

You say that changing our relationship with busy requires us to know our “need/want connection” and how it relates to our goals. What is a “need/want connection?

The need/want connection is a simple way to organize your process for moving towards a particular goal. We often get stuck when making tough decisions because we confuse want with need.  The want represents the desire and the need represents the essentials required to bring that desire or goal to fruition. It is what you NEED to get what you WANT. The other piece to the need/want connection is the why now factor. What is inspiring or motivating you to want to make a change, shift a behavior or adopt a new habit right now? Once the need/want connection is established the why now will be evident and that will help bolster your choices and efforts. Your process is more likely to be well-formed and clearly organized.

You offer four different traps that women often fall into in this book.  Please give us an example of two of them.

The first is the “Being All” trap. Many women fall into this trap when they feel as though its expected of them to get-it-all-done, often at the expense of their well-being. They put enormous pressure on themselves to be everything to everyone and feel inadequate when they fall short of getting-it-all-done.  The other is the “Saying Yes” trap. It is primarily the need to please others. This often gets set up in early childhood when parents are domineering and micromanage their children’s every decision, over time stripping away the child’s confidence to think independently. Love becomes conditional, compliance and people-pleasing become a way of protecting the person from feeling unloved.

You also help women identify what type of OSW, or overscheduled woman, they are. Will you give us an example of two?

The Pleaser seems to be a prevalent type. She is the one to call when you’re in a crunch! She is generous and always willing to help. She’s dependable and prides herself on getting things done with a I-can attitude. She spends a lot of time doing things for other people and in the process finds it difficult to allow others to do things for her. On the other end of the spectrum is the Alpha. The Alpha is a natural leader with a magnetic personality. She’s a strong communicator, highly motivated and confident about her character. She does not like to fail and this can often drive her to be overly competitive, aggressive and domineering. Her best self-care is to lighten up on herself and get comfortable with letting go of control by asking herself first “Is this really that important right now?”

If you were in an elevator with someone and you only had 30-seconds, what is the number one think you would tell them to start doing now to get out of their busy, overscheduled lifestyle?

Slow down! Keep your big picture front and center.

Take three minutes a day and meditate on what you want to bring more of into your life. Start your day with a mantra that will help you stay focused on what you want, not what you are trying to avoid. And when faced with a dilemma that is time-zapping your energy or confidence, ask yourself, “Is this really important? Will it be important tomorrow? In a week? A month? A year?” That is a great way to gage your involvement in a problem that may be distracting you from doing and feeling what you really need, want, and desire.

Do you have any other practical tips to offer those who are ready to break up with their busy, overschedule lives?

Take one step at a time. There are twelve practical solutions in Breaking Up with Busy and one of my favorites is Descheduling. It’s a way to edit your time and reduce the extraneous items that continually find their way on to your calendar. Pause before automatically responding to requests by imagining a big button in front of you that says PAUSE. Hit it, take a minute, and then respond. You’ll be amazed at how that simple technique can reduce the time-zappers from your day.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book Breaking Up with Busy?

My hope is that readers discover a clear path to living the life they desire. That they take away practical solutions for making daily shifts and learn to connect and listen to their spiritual voice. I want them to feel confident and know that they can transform their needs and wants into reality. This book is about mindful intentions, clear and thoughtful communication, healthy boundaries, and a big dose of love and compassion for one another and I hope they use all of it to be exactly who they are meant to be.

Yvonne Tally is the author of Breaking Up with Busy and leads meditation and de-stressing programs for corporations, individuals, and private groups in Silicon Valley. An NLP master practitioner, Yvonne cofounded Poised Inc., a Pilates and wellness training studio, and is the founder of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarves, a charity that provides headscarves to cancer patients. She lives in Northern California. Visit her online at  

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