Keep ‘Yourself’ Busy

1273638_10152152826505828_1292010602_oI consider one of the secrets of my ‘success’ to be a determination to keep busy.  For most of my life I’d never even considered that there was an option, through school and university and most of my working life I always had too much to do, someone else kept me busy

At home there were always chores to do, cutting the lawn, raking up leaves, picking apples, cleaning house.  At school I worked at the library, as a lab boy, and as a handyman.  During holidays I cleaned cars, had a window cleaning round and worked as an exterior decorator, the list goes on.  The when you start work and someone else keeps you busy you have a whole other set of problems which I won’t discuss today.

There are times in your life though when other people won’t keep you busy and setting aside holidays, these can be difficult times.  I learned how to manage such a time from my 80 year old neighbour. She was always up early, walked into Town, had brunch with friends, did her shopping, came home, vacuumed and cleaned the house, made all of her own meals, and read a lot. 

She lived alone and once while we were chatting I asked her why she cleaned and especially vacuumed every day, at the time we had 6 people in our house, 4 of them young kids, and we only vacuumed once a week!  She explained that it was important to keep busy, and that she got a sense of pride and accomplishment from a well kept home.

At the time I was pretty ill and working only 2 hours a day but I took the lesson to heart and made sure I filled my time.  Many years later I’m much improved and although I only work 16 hours a week, I still get up at around 6:30 and go to bed at around 11:00pm.  My days are extremely full, in fact I have to discipline myself to find quiet time to lay back and listen to music, or meditate even for 30 minutes.

This discipline to keep busy has had myriad benefits, a few of these are worth sharing:

  1. I always have something to get up for in the morning, no matter how bad I’m feeling
  2. I have very little time to dwell on my own thoughts, to day dream, to feel sorry for myself.  The time I spend writing this blog is my only real time I spend on reflection.  Research has shown that day dreaming is strongly correlated with unhappiness.
  3. I work on combatting weaknesses and building resilience.  If I’m struggling to move, I will force myself to keep moving and stretching a little throughout the day.  If I’m pain free I will build up my reserves by doing strength and stamina exercises.  If I can’t type or concentrate enough to read I will snuggle up to the cats on the sofa and watch conference (training) videos.
  4. When I’m not up to the pressures of working on todays problems, I focus on what I need to know next year

Today for example I was up at 7, I put in the first load of washing, made breakfast and headed out to Caffe Nero for a couple of hours reading.  I met Debbie in town and we walked back along the sea front, once home I did stripped and washed the bedding.  I then did 20 minutes of meditation before Debbie and I headed to Cleveleys for lunch at our favourite beach side cafe before an afternoon stroll along the prom.  Then we watched a movie at Cleveleys cinema and did the shopping on the way home.  I made a big salad for dinner, wrote this blog post, ironed the bedding and then we watched TV for an hour.  Finally I relaxed in the bath while reading before exhausted sleep.

In summary when I’m not working I try and work at living well or enhancing the lives of others.  It keeps me surprisingly busy!

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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