Refuse busyness, demand routine

By Thomas Hudson | Guest Contributor

Being busy is part of the college experience; everyone is busy, so get over it. This is the message that is broadcasted to us by peers, professors and social media when we begin to feel overwhelmed. With school, Greek Life, work, staying healthy, managing a social life and all the other things in life demanding your attention, it’s easy to get busy. The alternative to busyness — or giving up something you like doing, disappointing others, falling behind, or missing out — is something we are not willing to do.

Maybe this doesn’t have to be the case. What if you refused to be busy and overwhelmed with commitments and instead focused on your goals and made meaningful progress toward your success?

Greg McKeown, in his book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” explains, “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.’ It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.”

Since the first week back from break, when we typically abandon our New Year’s resolutions, we’ve hoped to become more productive individuals to the chaos of the school year and its various demands of time. I challenge you to not give up the fight for control of your time.

How can I get it all done? The truth is, you can’t. The good news: You don’t have to. I also suggest The Daily Stoic Podcast as a resource in managing control in your life. Epictetus, the ancient Stoic philosopher, has mentioned ways to navigate things outside of our control in life.

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control,” Epictetus said.

Take a moment, or as long as it takes, and pause to truly think, what is your goal? This is the most important thing you want to achieve this semester. After that, methodically review what you need to remove from your life to achieve that goal. Remember, there are probably more things than you think that can be removed.

When we remove the nonessential, focus on what is in our control and understand that we cannot do it all, we allow ourselves to do what is truly important: the essential. Build routines into your life that allow you to be a strong student, a quality friend and a healthy individual with limited effort.

Nick Bare, CEO of Bare Performance Nutrition and ultra marathoner, puts it nicely: “There is a switch in our brain that flips from sedentary to disciplined and motivation allows us to flip it on and off. You turn it on for a few days and then give up. I challenge you to flip that switch, turn on your self-discipline, then break the switch.”

I believe in the power of routine and pursuing the essential, and I know that within you is the power to make huge strides toward your goals. I will leave you with one final quote that I think of daily from Jocko Willink, who co-authored “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.”

“Discipline equals freedom.”