Letting Go of Busy Work does A Lot of Good

I have now officially dissolved the LLC in every way except in one area. This morning, as I filed the final paperwork for closing the LLC in the state I live in, I realized I felt wonderful. I had no idea that carrying around the LLC (something I felt obligated to have since it was the thing “smart” authors did) was weighing me down. Suddenly, writing wasn’t fun. It was a business. And because it was a business, there was the burden of making a certain income to justify what I was doing.

This morning, it occurred to me all of that nonsense is gone. Removing the LLC has been the best thing I could have done to save my creativity. And I decided that from this point forward, if I don’t want to do something, I’m not going to do it. I’m going to do stuff I want to do.

And that brings me to the actual topic of this post:

Sometimes you have to let things go.

dont be busy be productive image

ID 126911544 © Artur Szczybylo | Dreamstime.com

I realize there are some areas in a person’s life that they can’t remove. Obviously, you have to work to put food on the table, you have to pay taxes, you have to take care of a sick child in the middle of the night, you have to keep your house clean, etc. This is just part of the human experience.

But there are things you can remove from your life to make things easier. I don’t know if it’s because I’m now in my forties (so I have some experience under my belt), but a lot of stuff people often do are things they feel obligated to do. They aren’t things they have to do. They’re things others have imposed upon them.

I think we’ve all been there. You know the task ahead of you is optional, but you can’t bring yourself to say no because someone else expects you to do it, and you’re afraid if you don’t do it, then the person will get upset with you. Sometimes you do things to keep the peace. The older I get, the less inclined I am to keep doing those activities. I think as you get older, you realize your time is getting more and more precious because people only live for so long. The older you get, the less years you’re likely to have. So you start to choose your activities more carefully.

This is why I decided to only write stories I’m most excited about writing. This is why I’m cutting back on how many books I write at a time so I have time to do other things I love (such as walking 45-60 minutes 5 days a week) and spending time with my husband and kids. This is why I cut the email list. This is why I cut the LLC. I no longer have time for the hamster wheel that is a “successful” author’s life. I’m tired of chasing after marketing schemes that usually don’t yield more sales. Most of the time, they only end up wasting time.

Remember in school when your teacher handed you assignments to fill out that was busy work? You knew there wasn’t a point to the assignments. You could tell the difference between working on something that advanced your education and something that didn’t. In real life, we end up filling our days with the same kind of busy work. They’re really distractions. They don’t move you toward your goals. But they seem so urgent at the moment that we put stuff that do advance our goals further down the list. Then by the time we can get to those activities that get us closer to our goals, we’re usually too exhausted for the day. We tell ourselves, we’ll do those things tomorrow. If we’re not careful, tomorrow gets sucked up in busy work, too.

I’m looking at everything I’m doing and asking myself, “Is this busy work? Or is this going to get me closer to my goals?”

The email list, to be honest, was busy work. I was spending one week working on a special epilogue to go with each new release, and I was making this exclusive to my email list or people in my closed Facebook group. Well, after having this email list since 2015, I realized that over the years, more people were unsubscribing than they were subscribing. Also, less and less people were even opening the email to read the 1500-2500 words I spent agonizing over for a week. The reason is was so hard for me to write those scenes is because the book was done. When the book is done, I can’t think of anything to add to it. It was busy work. Very few people were interested. So why was I spending so much time doing something I dreaded?

This is the kind of busy work that needs to be removed from our lives. Life is short. Why make yourself miserable doing something because you feel like you have to do it? If the activity is optional, let it go. Spend that time doing something you enjoy.

In case you think letting go of this stuff is easy, it’s not. It’s hard. I’ve been wanting to get rid of the email list and my LLC for two years, but I was afraid to do it because I was going to let someone down. So I kept pushing myself to go on, and in the end, I started to dread what was coming. I was frustrated. Sometimes I was angry at myself for not having the courage to say no, but mostly, I was frustrated.

By letting go of things that aren’t working, I found a new sense of freedom. And in the freedom is a huge sense of relief. I’m no longer on the hook to do busy work. I can spend that time doing something I love instead. It’s amazing what a difference this has been making.

Now, I don’t know what your “busy work” is, but I know it won’t be easy to give it up. It’s taking me two years to finally give mine up. The first step is the realizing this thing isn’t working for you. Then you have to let the process work itself out because I do believe this is a process. I don’t think anyone can snap their fingers and just walk away from something that has become a habit. I heard once that success is not a straight line. It’s a lot of twists and turns. It’s a process.

I also think the more tuned into other people’s feelings you are, the harder it is to do. I’m very conscious of other people’s emotions. I hate to upset anyone. And this has made it harder to make certain decisions along the way. You have to fight the urge to feel guilty for not meeting someone’s expectations. But I guess you have to look at it this way: if you can’t give 100% of yourself to something, then are you really doing other people a favor? I mean, I could keep writing those special scenes, but if I hate doing them, that will reflect in the work. And in the end, the lack of quality is going to disappoint people anyway.

For a personal experience, my deaf kid wanted to stay after school to do some activities with his peers, but that would require me to drive down to pick him up every day. That totaled about one hour five days a week, and I would have to pick him up around 5:30. I get up at 4 in the morning so that I can get ready for the day. I like having an hour in the morning to be shower and then spend time in silence to get mentally ready for the day. After that, it’s hectic around the house. I have four kids and a husband. Getting everyone ready for school and work is a lot of work. I like to wind down at night, and I like to be in bed between 5:30-6. I don’t go to sleep right away, but I have found this wind down time goes a long way to renewing my energy and getting a solid, good night’s sleep. I’m an introvert, and introverts lose energy when they’re around people. They need time alone to build the energy back up. This makes me much more productive during the day. I’m also a much happier person to be around. So I had to say no to picking up the kid after school every day. Instead, I compromised on picking him up two days a week. I can manage that. But doing it five days would have exhausted me.

So that’s what I mean by busy work and cutting it from your life. Obviously, you can’t get rid of everything you don’t like doing, but there are some areas that you can release. Letting those things go has a surprising way of making life more positive. I don’t know if anyone found this motivational, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to write the post. 🙂

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to https://ruthannnordinsbooks.wordpress.com/.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Letting Go of Busy Work does A Lot of Good

  1. My street team is close to falling into this category. I have hardly any participation and almost no one will share link or any promotions like they’re supposed to be doing. Mostly they just play games. I’ve thought about deleting ti a few times but have left it so far because I do enjoy some aspects of it, but when I am totally tired of it, it’s going to go. It was one of those things I made because “they” said we “needed” one.

    • I never wanted a street team. I’ve seen too many authors with street teams who fought and bickered among themselves. There was always drama, and sometimes they’ve turned on the authors.

    • When someone proposed the idea of a street team back in 2013, I knew it wasn’t for me. I do good just to manage a couple of beta readers and an editor. I can’t imagine dealing with an entire team!

      It sounds like your team turned out to be like my email list. People kept unsubscribing, so they obviously weren’t that interested. In the end, I didn’t see the point in having it.

  2. I think once you clear out all the excess baggage, writing will become a joy once more. You’re a writer. That’s what you do. But when you feel like you HAVE to do this and that, the fun is gone. It’s funny you wrote this today. I was in my boss’s office updating his computer software, and I saw a post-it note on his monitor that said “Just say NO!”.

    • LOL I just wrote a post called “Don’t Take Advice”. I’m saving it for next week. I want to proofread it before it goes live. I did a lot of soul searching this month while reading “The Happiness Equation” book, and “Don’t take advice” was one of the tips in that book. Taking advice is really saying yes. It’s the opposite of saying no. Sometimes we have to say no. You’re right. When you HAVE to do something, it’s not fun. It’s a chore. The scary thing is how slowly I lost the enthusiasm for writing. I wasn’t even aware it was happening until I hit a brick wall and couldn’t go anymore.

      I’m happy to say that this week, I wrote almost 16,000 words, and I wasn’t worn out. I’m making myself take the weekend off, but this time around, I am making myself NOT write for a change. I’ve been making myself write for three years. It’s a completely different feeling when you make yourself stop writing even though you want to keep going. There were times when I didn’t think I’d ever get the joy of writing back, but this week has proved I can. It all boils down to why we’re writing. I’ll never write a book that other people want me to write ever again. From now on, I’m focusing on what I want to write.

  3. You just have to do what you have to do in order to do what you actually want to do. Everything else is just draining and life is too short to deal with all the superfluous stuff that is more work than it’s worth.

    • Agreed. Life is too short. Looking back on some of the books I wrote, I wish I had done some of them differently. I never want to feel that about another book I write ever again.

Comments are closed.