FAQ: Potential Boxing Day Problem #4 – Too busy to have a Boxing Day

too busyIn stark contrast to those under the age of twenty five there are those people who are utterly convinced that they couldn’t possibly take one day out a month for themselves. They’re just too darn busy.

In my experience there are two types of ‘I don’t have the time {for Boxing Day}’ people – those that don’t have the time, and those that think they don’t have the time. Let’s find out which type you are.

Answer this simple two-part question:

do you have an appointment diary and do you use it?

If you haven’t answered yes to both parts, chances are you’re one of the people who only think that they’re busy. What you’re calling ‘busy’ is in fact ‘chaos’.

I’m not kidding about this: diaries really are that important.

Go get a diary, start using it, then come back.

So you’re back. Good. Now hand me that diary and let’s have a look.

Hmmm. I see. Well, you’re right. You do appear to have a very busy schedule. Every single moment is indeed booked out for something. That’ll be why you have that smug ‘told you so’ look on your face that’s just crying out for a smack.

But wait – what’s this appointment here? Every Sunday?

“That’s when I go to see my mother,” you say.

“Every Sunday?”

“Well, yes.”

“Could you not skip it one week?”

“Not really.”


“Because she expects me!”

“So tell her you can’t make it one week!”

“I couldn’t do that,” you say.

“Why not?”

“Because she’s my mother.”

“Ok, but what about this Sunday? This Sunday you’re not seeing your mother. This says ‘work’.”

“Well yes,” you reply “there’s this big project we’re finishing up, and my boss really needs me – and besides, it’s overtime…”

“So it’s ok to cancel your mother if there’s overtime up for grabs?”

“Well, we’re really busy right now -”

“And your mother’s ok with that?”

“Well, it’s work – it’s important.”

“And you’re not important?”


“I said: ‘You’re not important?’”

“Well, of course I am, I suppose -”

“You suppose?”

“Look, I can’t cancel my mother, not to spend a day by myself-”

“Because you’re not important?”

“Well, err-”


It’s not that you’re too busy, it’s that you’re putting everyone and everything before you and your happiness! You have, in effect, trained yourself – yes, trained yourself – to believe that when it comes to your time, and your life, everyone else gets to say how you spend it.

You need to stop that.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. From birth we’re encouraged by others to take on that ‘training’. Eventually we might even convince ourselves that these habits of selflessness/martyrdom/workaholism are a good thing. We say to ourselves, “I must be a good person, I put everyone else first – yay me.” Those that don’t adopt a similar saintly attitude – and you can probably think of someone off the top of your head – can, on occasion, come across as a little self-centred or selfish. Maybe more than a little. And maybe not as occasionally as you’d like. Thank God you’re not like that.

I bet they’re happier though.

Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that you become like them, but accepting that you’ve created a habit of surrendering your time without question, and becoming aware of that habit, will give you the opportunity to say “no” and gradually regain control of your life. It’ll feel uncomfortable at first. It may even feel wrong. At some point you’ll upset someone. Maybe several someones. And that’ll make you feel guilty. But these things will pass. With practice it’ll become easier – it’ll start to make sense – and the people around, those that care about you, will, eventually, adjust to the ‘new you’.

So – let’s start now – go tell your mother that you won’t make it next week, or your boss that you can’t come in on Sunday.

2 thoughts on “FAQ: Potential Boxing Day Problem #4 – Too busy to have a Boxing Day

  1. I have just started your book (How to do everything & be happy) and felt the need to comment. I am a newly divorced mother of two. I can fully appreciate the “too busy” comments. For years I seldom took time for myself and was always running around after others. In 2003, when I started doing karate this became my “me” time. My training sessions twice a week took priority – I never missed a class. At the end of 2009 when I passed my black belt it felt so good! This was something I had done for myself! The divorce took place this year (April 2012) and now I am starting a new life full of “me time”. The future is uncertain but I am ready to embrace it. Here’s to the future, regards, Maggie. ps. The children are both over 21 so it’s real me time – watch out the world!!


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