“How are you going? Keeping busy?”

Katie eating apricot-400x224

Have you been greeted like that lately? Or when someone has asked how you are, answered “busy!”?  I realised recently that “busy” has become my stock answer, and I started wondering why – and why it felt like some sort of badge of honour!

My theory is that “busy” is a code word that l (and lots of other people) use when what we really mean is overworked, stressed, under-supported, tired, financially burdened, worried, over-committed, important, in demand, or worthy of your sympathy! For me, busy had become my not-so-subtle way of saying to people (a) look how popular and ‘in demand’ I am; (b) isn’t the life of a farmer hard; (c) don’t expect me to take on anything else; and (d) look at me, I’m superwoman! None of which is actually true.

Just like everyone else, I get my allotted 24 hours in every day and, just like everyone else, each day I chose how I spend those hours! For those of us juggling kids, work (maybe multiple jobs), community responsibilities, and family, it often doesn’t feel like we have a lot of choice. But, when I had a look at how I was actually spending my hours, it turns out that a lot of them were being used up doing things that are nothing to do with being in demand, a farmer, or superwoman, but much more to do with allowing other people’s agendas to sidetrack me because I don’t have a clear plan for how I want to spend my time, not being very good at saying ‘no’, and enjoying the recognition I get from being involved (read “over-committed”) in community organisations.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the things that take my time – in the great majority of cases, I do, but I’ve really been asking myself, why on earth do I consistently over-commit to the point of becoming too busy?

In a way this whole process of becoming more conscious of how I spend my time has been another unexpected benefit of winning the RIRDC Victorian Rural Women’s Award, because the award has given me a lot of opportunities to travel, speak in front of groups, and try new things. And you may remember when I won the award I made a commitment to say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as I could during this year, because I figure it’s a chance that may not come again, and I want to learn as much as possible. The result is that I’ve found my days and weeks filling up with commitments I don’t normally have. But you know the interesting thing? I’m only as ‘busy’ as I’ve ever been.

The inescapable truth is that I manage to create exactly the same level of busy-ness, no matter what my actual obligations are. Eek! That must mean it’s me! Unless someone’s actually holding a gun (or a metaphorical gun) to our head, we all have a choice about we spend our time. And when I look around me, I notice that some people are not always busy, but are calm, productive and relaxed. So what are they doing with their 24 hours, I wondered, that I’m not?

When I know the answer to that question I’ll let you know, because I’m determined to find out, and the first step is not using the word ‘busy’ any more. And I admit, it’s often hard to find another word to tell people how I am, rather than what I’m doing, but I’ll keep practising.

So how am I? Thanks for asking, right now I’m happy, curious about life, and aware I have a self-imposed deadline to write our Weekly Fruit Tips newsletter looming, so I’m off to do that next!


RIRDC Victorian Rural Women’s Award – week 31

In the last few weeks I’ve:

  • Spoken at the “Local Lives, Global Matters” conference in Castlemaine
  • Been interviewed for  The Weekly Times
  • Been interviewed for a feature article in the Victorian Farmers Federation magazine
  • Agreed to speak at the “Chicks in the Sticks” event
  • Submitted a workshop proposal for an event in South Australia
  • arranged to meet with my project mentor
  • Been working on ideas for Stage 2 of the project

My project, called “Growing Communities Around Farmers Markets” has been made possible by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Awards. Nominations for the 2016 Awards are now open.