22 March, 2016

Breaking Busy Review

I was recently given the chance to read Alli Worthington’s new book BreakingBusy. In it, Worthington writes about the need to stop doing things because we feel obligated or wearing the “badge of busy” like a symbol of honor.

The Lie of Busy

The theme of taking a step back and reevaluating our lives, what we are committed to, and what we have let define us, is coming up all over the place. Finally the lie that we can “do it all” or should be expected to is finally starting to crack. There is no “having it all” unless it includes rest, relationships and a new defition of “success.”

I read Breaking Busy after reading Emily Freeman’s Simply Tuesday and Lara Casey’s Make it Happen (both of which I’d highly recommend). They all speak to this idea that while we are busier than ever, we feel like we are getting less done and losing what really matters in our quest to conquer the out of control to do list.

Okay, let me get this straight. Worthington writes. Women are sacrificing sleep, recreation, hobbies, friends and even family on the altar of busyness. So we aren’t sleeping, aren’t taking care of our bodies, and we aren’t doing things we enjoy with people we love. Then what in the world are we doing? (pg. 22)

Worthington starts off talking about capacity. She looks at her cell phone as an example. Your phone can only do so much at one time. It will only work for so long without a recharge. We tend to keep going on empty, to try to do more on limited reserves. It just doesn’t work.

There are several signs Worthington points to as a sign of being on overload.
1.     Inability to Control Your Emotions
2.     Lack of Self-Care
3.     Illness
4.     Chronic Lateness
5.     Self-Medicating and Excess
6.     Neglecting Important Relationships
7.     Neglecting God


I read this book first in November and looking back over my notes, I can see I am still on overload.

I am not “busy” per say. My planner is mostly work, writing and working out. I do not have children, am not committed to anything outside my job. My life is relatively stress free. But that does not mean I am not outside my capacity or am not overloaded.

I tend to focus on too many things at one time. In my creative life I will try to push forward too many projects. I will get too many ideas of things to try (got to love Pinterest). I will want to excel at cooking, become the perfect Bible journaler, and run my own business. I join clubs on Facebook I have no intention of engaging with and have more newsletters coming to my inbox than I will ever read. My desk is cluttered with impulse buys, notebooks and print outs to read and digest.

All of this can stimulation leads to feeling overwhelmed. And to me it is a sign that something is not sitting right in my core.

Too often we restrict our barometer of busy to our planner, but what about how much time we waste multi-tasking or on social media or procrastinating? I find it easier to escape online than to take action for my own health and happiness (pg. 27), Worthington writes. And I totally agree.

Worthington’s list is a wake-up call to me to re-evaluate where I am. Yes, according to my planner my life is the last thing from busy. But internally – in my head, in my heart and with my emotions – I am so overloaded it leaves me feeling empty, not creative and tired.

The heart of Breaking Busy is learning to say no.

Learning to say no when it comes to what we are committed to, what we let consume our time, what traditions we cling to, to who and what we let speak into our lives.

The Question of Calling

I have to admit, I found her chapter on Calling a bit discouraging.

She writes about her experience of leaving behind a very successful blog event for what – she wasn’t sure. Worthington started the blog conference after her husband lost his job. It grew and blossomed and at the peak moment God called her to walk away.

It’s an incredible story of trust. And what came next for Worthington can only been seen as God’s perfect timing.

She does provide some thought provoking questions for identifying your calling. She is right in that we have to let God tells us what we are made for (instead of assuming we know or telling God what we want to do). It is in relationship with Him we find out what we are designed to do.

Where it falls flat is that she doesn’t do a good job of addressing the obligations of our lives and how those can interfere with calling. What do we do when we know our calling and God says wait?

Worthington does not have a lot of encouragement for those of us in this place. She paints the picture that determination is enough. It’s not. You can be determined and hustle your heart out and still have not enough to cover the bills.

It is the biggest failure in the book.

Editing is Key

One of the biggest ways that we can start to break busy is by editing what we are committed to. Worthington looks at “proactive edits” and “natural edits.”

Proactive edits are “what we need to stop doing if we are to live the life God created us to live.”

Natural edits are ones we do not choose for ourselves. They are, “limitations we have and losses we suffer (pg. 88).”

The natural edits are the sticking place. How we respond to them determines a lot. Our limitations can keep us from inserting ourselves in places we shouldn’t. They help determine what we do and where we spend our time.

I will say sometimes God works through our natural edits, and those can be amazing and glorious.

Worthington looks at the life of Jesus. The God of all things did not, “say yes to everything because he wasn’t called to do everything (pg. 91).” And that is a good reminder for us.

My Efforts at Editing

I found Worthington’s list of how to make proactive edits very useful as I started editing my obligations. I was able to look at what was hindering me, to face some fears in my heart, and ultimately lay the edits in my life before God.

The reality is sometimes edits hurt.

God was trying to alter my life and was refining my character to suit His particular purpose. But sometimes edit hurts, and sometimes they cause others to hurt. When you feel the need to edit something out of your life, expecting the process to be easy will only make that change harder. Like most growth in life, editing out the good is not easy, but it is ultimately worth it (pg. 86).

Later on, Worthington writes about the difference between worry and anxiety. Anxiety is a sense of doom rooted in fear hat is often a lie from the Enemy. Worry is nothing but our attempt to control the future (pg 111). She addresses these two issues and provides steps to overcome our negative thoughts.

The False Sense of Urgent

The problem is that maybe important tasks (such as getting adequate sleep, spending quiet time with God every day, and working towards our big goals in life) don’t seem urgent enough to demand our immediate attention, while urgent tasks … aren’t always important (pg. 142).

We lose too much of our day in things that don’t ultimately matter. Worthington writes: we should be done more life-giving activities that make us happy and help us grow into who we are meant to be. But we will never get to those activities if we don’t first set out goals and our priorities (pg. 144).

At the heart of this is boundaries!

Setting boundaries is the only way to ensure we stay healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually (pg. 149).

What we think, believe, hope for, study or dream about does not affect the outcome of our future. The decisions we make and the actions we take do (pg. 159).

She also writes a very good chapter on communication and if you are an over or under sharer, how to relate to each other, and how to better communicate overall.


Worthington’s final chapter deals with worth. It was my favorite chapter. It’s the one I keep going back to, the one that really struck a cord in me. I feel Worthington could write a whole book on just this topic. So many struggle with this and yet don’t even know what to name it.

“Keeping us busy trying to prove our worth is the easiest way to keep us from the life God created us to live because it makes us think that our worth is based on what we do, instead of who God is (pg. 197).

It is a refreshing chapter with a lot of heart and tips on how to take a breath, identify how you face this issue “being enough.” It provides some great guidance on how to cultivate a more healthy sense of worth.


Worthington goes back and forth between being conversational and providing tips/tricks and questions which tend to make the book more formal. Her strength is in the latter. There are very few authors who can write well in a conversational tone. Not done well, the writing can come off a bit weak.

It is a good entry into the idea the idea of breaking the cycle of busy and reclaiming our lives. Though I might recommend Simply Tuesday or Make it Happen more.

In the end, Breaking Busy is a worthwhile read. There are gems of wisdom and practical tips throughout and one of the ten ideas Worthington addresses will strike a cord, as a few did for me.

What are you currently reading?

0 reactions:

Post a Comment

© Amanda Lunday