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Too Busy to Live: Mindfulness of Your Priorities








If we are paying attention to our lives, we’ll recognize those defining moments. The challenge for so many of us is that we are so deep into daily distractions and ‘being busy, busy’ that we miss out on those moments and opportunities that – if jumped on – would get our careers and personal lives to a whole new level of wow.  Robin S. Sharma

I’ve been thinking about priorities and demands. That’s an interpersonal skill in DBT. Priorities are what you want, what’s important to you. Demands come from other people, what they want you to do. The idea is to have a balance that helps you live your life effectively. So how does this actually apply to your life?

Take a look at how you spend your days. Do you spend most of your time with what is important to you or what others want you to do? Though it might seem wonderful to spend all your time on what you want to do, being out of balance in that way probably means that you are not paying attention to the people in your life and perhaps to goals that you need to accomplish to have the life you want to live. Having too many demands may mean that there is no time for you and you may become resentful of giving to others.

There are so many priorities in my life! At times I overwhelm myself with all that I want to do. I have an unending list of projects –way beyond what is reasonable. I love being an idea person and making things happen. I never thought of this as a craving or desire, something that I need to notice and not let control my life. I looked at it as a gift. At the same time (there’s the dialectic!) extremes make us unhappy. Priorities need to reflect your values in some way.



Constantly focusing on projects is just as out of balance as never focusing on projects. Each person’s balance may be different, and over focusing on projects that you do well can mean you are avoiding or neglecting other areas of your life. To make choices that help you get the life you want to live, know your priorities.



To get your priorities back in balance, stop believing that being overly busy is the way to get everything done that you want to accomplish and to have a fulfilled life. When you are focused on accomplishment, marking the goal off your list, the journey becomes a burden. Doing what you love is about joy, loving each day and contentment. Busyness is about frustration, frenzy, and urgency. Being overly busy can destroy or minimize the gift of doing what you love. Consider doing a pros and cons list of being overly busy and having many priorities. Push yourself to list the pros and cons in more than a superficial way.

If you aren’t sure of your priorities, consider what your values are. Then take a look at how what priorities reflect your values. Here’s one tool to help and video that discusses the steps.

Be mindful of your words. Your words reflect your beliefs. Do you have a secret sense of pride when you say, “I’m so busy?” Maybe those words actually reflect an out of control life rather than a life filled with what is important to you.

Know what is important to you. What do you want to leave as your legacy to the world? What are your priorities now and in the long-term? Your priorities guide you in making decisions. You don’t have unlimited time. How you spend each day becomes your life.

If you look at your day as being like a pizza, who and where do you want to give the pieces? Are you putting your time into what is really important to you?

My priorities include fitness and health, building a community at home and at work, and completing two projects. So if a request doesn’t fit in these areas, then I need to consider them carefully before saying yes. My default answer will be no, not right now and only with excellent reasons will I change that. If you’re a person who has too few priorities then your default answer might best be “yes.”




“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”

Mother Teresa,



Where do relationships fit in your priorities? Do you squeeze them in around the tasks you have to do? My priority of building a sense of community means making time for people on a regular and consistent basis, regardless. This value takes time to put into place. You can become discouraged. Of course there will be times when no one show up and times when you are too tired. Think long-term. Live each day, each hour, in a way that shows you value people.

Let go of Time Stealers

Thinking too much, worrying about your purpose, wondering what others think of you or how you look are all ways of staying paralyzed or in the same routine. Ruminating and thinking, thinking, thinking are also ways of staying in the same place. Throw yourself into life in a way that fits what you value. That will help you get the life you want to live each day.

I always enjoy your comments and feedback. Have a mindful day and my best wishes to you. Thank you for participating in this community.

Other places you can find Dr. Hall:

DBT Skills Coaching

Emotionally Sensitive Person Podcast

Too Busy to Live: Mindfulness of Your Priorities

Karyn Hall, PhD

Karyn Hall, Ph.D. is the owner/director of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician, a RO DBT Approved Supervisor and Trainer and owner of, an online educational program. She is a trainer/consultant as well as a therapist and certified coach, author of The Emotionally Sensitive Person, SAVVY, Mindfulness Exercises for DBT Therapists, and co-author of The Power of Validation. Her podcast, The Emotionally Sensitive Person, is available on iTunes.

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APA Reference
Hall, K. (2015). Too Busy to Live: Mindfulness of Your Priorities. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Nov 2015
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