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Book Review: Breaking Up With Busy

To be busy, it seems, is to be in demand. Our importance is measured by the number of clients we meet each day, the meetings we attend, the committees we are on, and the fact that we simply have no time for anything else.

“Busyness is not just a behavior; it is an ethos that claims ownership of our time,” writes Yvonne Tally.

In her new book, Breaking Up With Busy: Real Life Solutions For Overscheduled Women, Tally challenges this ethos and offers a paradigm shift in what having it all together really means.

“As an overscheduled woman you may be everything from a well-intended problem-solver to a driven and tireless over-deliverer. Both can be personal assets as well as professional attributes; however, an excess of either will wear you down,” writes Tally.

The promise is that busyness is the road to success and by doing more, women will be more.

“Getting stuff done and being busy feeds that sense that, yes, we are important,” Tally writes.

In service of busyness, we often opt out of doing things for ourselves, have a mixed sense of doing too much and not getting enough done, feel like busy is normal, feel controlled by our schedule, eat at least one meal a day while standing, experience weight shifts, hair loss or skin issues, don’t get enough sleep, feel overwhelmed and anxious, constantly feel like we are in a rush, and find the things we used to enjoy now feel like inconveniences.

“You are living a life, not running a race,” Tally reminds her readers. Yet we can become lured into a cycle of busyness through watching our own mothers, being influenced by societal messages, and feeling guilty when we are not busy.

“Time is like a Ponzi scheme; most of us feel we never get a good return on the investments we’ve made,” writes Tally. While we forge ahead, in search of more time, we desperately feel as if time is running out, and we must do more with the time we have left.

“Our pre-occupied mindset lets busyness settle into our lives like an overbearing backseat driver; it’s always a little bit out of view, but you know it’s there because it never stops directing what to do, even though you’re (in theory, anyway) in the driver’s seat,” writes Tally.

As our busyness ripples outward, it affects all areas of our lives.

“It’s unlikely that we will be raised up and invigorated by our relationships if we feel tired, stressed, or unsupported, and it’s doubtful that our partners will feel inspired to support us if they don’t feel they are a priority,” writes Tally.

The first step, is uncovering what motivates our busyness.

“Motivation is the bridge between desires and action, and to make a change stick, especially when changing deeply ingrained habits, it is your motivation that helps you remain focused on your goals, even when setbacks occur,” writes Tally.

Our habits are simply default strategies that allow us to go through life on autopilot. Yet habits are also highly influenced by our business – the busier we are, the more we need default strategies.

“Changing your relationship with busy necessitates determining your need/want connection and how it relates to your goals,” writes Tally.

Tally suggests readers ask: Why now? Getting to the deeper reasons for our desires helps us connect with what we need from ourselves to reach our goals.

We may need self-compassion to realize that we don’t have to be perfect, don’t have to fit into a role that doesn’t feel authentic, and don’t have to receive the approval of everyone around us.

“Know that you don’t have to be everything to be enough,” writes Tally.

Through learning to stop comparing ourselves to others, asking what we admire about ourselves, and if impressing people will actually add to our lives, we can learn to find and cultivate peace within ourselves.

Saying no is also a big part of stopping the cycle of business.

“Knowing when and how to say no is as much about setting healthy boundaries as it is about your health; always saying yes is a busy pursuit that leaves little time for your emotional and spiritual well-being,” writes Tally.

We may also need to build the self-confidence to say what we need and want, put our words into action, face our fears and learn to evolve. For this, Tally suggests shifting our attention from the problem to the solution through first stating the problem, turning it into a solution statement, directing our attention to the solution, being mindful, and making an outcome statement.

We are not our rush, and we are not in others’ rush. We are our dreams, hopes, desires, and intentions. And we have every right to reject busyness and start living.

In a world that demands more from women every day, Yvonne Tally offers the practical strategies, tips, and solutions we need to just say no. 

Breaking Up With Busy: Real Life Solutions For Overscheduled Women

Yvonne Tally

New World Library

April 2018

Hardcover, 186 Pages

Book Review: Breaking Up With Busy

Psych Central's Recommendation:
Worth Your Time! +++

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Claire Nana

Claire Nana is a regular contributor and book reviewer for Psych Central.

APA Reference
Nana, C. (2018). Book Review: Breaking Up With Busy. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 Jun 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 22 Jun 2018
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