Happiness Hack: Staying Busy - How-to Make Life More Enjoyable

* Reprinted with permission from the Boozy Gardener. Originally published September 2018.

The Boozy Gardener is involved in a lot of activities and has a lot of hobbies, so people often to remark to me, “I wish I had your energy. You’re so busy!” Or, “Do you think you’re doing too much? Why don’t you ever relax?”

First of all, never fear. I definitely do relax. I meditate, go for walks, play with my dogs, and, yes, I binge on Netflix (cannot recommend The Chalet highly enough).

Secondly, I don’t think I have any more energy and motivation than other people do. In fact, this is why I cram so much into my days. I have a confession. If I do not stay busy, I do nothing. Not the fun, relaxing type of nothing. The type of nothing that leaves one feeling bloated, tired, and numb.


Before I get a lot of angry emails extolling the virtues of doing nothing, let me be more specific. If I have an unfilled afternoon, I will WANT to watch a movie or TV show or read. However, instead of these pursuits, I will end up doing one of the following:

  • Scroll Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, become paralyzed by choice, and go to bed earlier than necessary.

  • Play Farm Heroes on my iPad while zoning out to Forensic Files repeats.

Spoiler alert: The manic dog did it.

I’m not making a judgment on either of these activities. I don’t think it’s “bad” to play Farm Heroes. However, I do not want to spend my free time doing these things. I WANT to watch a movie or read a book. However, because I think I have “plenty of time,” I end up doing nothing.

I have realized that I need to stay busy to be energized and happy. I like learning, so I do not find it draining to do my homework. I love writing, so working on my blog and freelance writing gig is a joy. Yoga and meditation help clear my mind after a stressful day of work, so I enjoy these activities.

I do not just schedule my habits. I make sure that I still see my friends and family on the weekends, and I plan to implement a weekly phone call to faraway friends to maintain these relationships as well (I'll cover how that goes in a later blog).

All this has helped me grow into a happier Boozy Gardener. No, I do not have a lot of free time, but I love everything I do.

I've also found an unexpected benefit to staying busy. When I do have a surprise afternoon, I relish these unplanned moments even more. Instead of mindlessly scrolling Netflix, I have a show pre-picked and hit play without scrolling my other options (Castle Rock, I'm coming for you!). Because I have looked forward to the spare moment to enjoy a show or read, it feels as if I'm treating myself to something special. I microwave some popcorn to share with the dogs and have fun.

Would you like to try to be busier to be happier? Everyone is different, so I can only tell you what has worked for me. To make my life work, I have to have a schedule. As I have become busier with writing, my side gig, and school, I have had to create a pretty detailed schedule:

That's the moon--not a cookie.

I started much simpler, though, and I suggest you do the same, especially if you're a rebel (if you don't know about the Four Tendencies, I suggest you check out Gretchen Rubin's wonderful book The Four Tendencies).

First, think about what is important to you and/or what you enjoy doing. Want more time to knit? Want to spend more time playing with your kids? Write down what you value.

Once you have identified what is important to you, choose a time of day to do it, and (this is key) write it down! If something is scheduled, you are much more likely to do it. Your schedule can be something like:

  • Get home from work

  • Cook dinner; talk to family

  • Play with kids

  • Get kids in bed

  • Knit

  • Get to bed

No beginning or end times and nothing fancy. Just a little reminder of what you value so that you are actually doing the things you love instead of just zoning out through life.

Feel free to comment below with your schedule or values. I'd love to hear from all of you!

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