The Onion Story

Do you ever catch yourself doing something and saying “huh why did I do that?” or “I didn’t mean to do that”. I don’t know about you, but this happens to me often. Today I was chopping an onion while on speakerphone and thinking about a million things and all of a sudden, you guessed it, I sliced my finger. I was working in autopilot to chop the onion and not really paying attention to what I was doing. After stopping the bleeding and hating on myself for a few minutes, it really got me thinking about what it means to be “busy” and how mindfulness can help.

Have you asked anyone lately “how are you?” and they have answered “busy”? Or have you said you are busy when a friend checks in? Society has moved towards an acceptance of “busy”. We all have a lot on our plates, metaphorically speaking i.e.: work, emails, meetings, family, aging parents/grandparents, starting families, raising children, grandchildren, building/maintaining a home, hobbies, exercise, healthy eating…the list goes on. Everyone is busy. But is that ok? I’ll tell you, it wasn’t for me today when I sliced my finger open.

If you ask me, I think busy is good. It is good to have things to do and a balance of activities to occupy ones time. It is also good to have time that is unoccupied and free to fill how you see fit. I believe this is where mindfulness comes in to play. If we mindfully build our schedule and calendar to address the tasks we need to and want to complete each day, we may be more productive. If we recognize when we make mindful choices versus when we make mindless ones, we may feel more fulfilled (and have fewer knife accidents). If we take a pause to breathe, we may be able to check in with ourselves and feel healthy and well.

I was recently started reading a book called “Busy” by Tony Crabbe. It is a fantastic book filled with strategies about “how to thrive in a world of too much”. This book is filled with concrete strategies and tips about coping in a busy world. I highly recommend the read if this is a topic that interests you. (Have you read it already? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or contact us.). Here are three of my takeaways so far:

1) Self-Check in: Crabbe refers to this as a “busy footprint”. How busy are you? What is making you feel busy? How do you feel about being busy? Are there things you can or can’t do? Crabbe talks about the importance of checking in with yourself and start to understand your busy tolerance and limits. We all have busy lives, however, our “busy” all looks different. For example, I am the kind of person who does a lot of activities, both in my work and personal life. These activities keep me fulfilled, excited and learning. That being said, when I reach my busy limits, I start to show symptoms in a variety of ways such as not mindfully cutting an onion when I am making my lunch, or not sleeping well. I may tend to prepare fewer meals and eat out more often, which makes me feel sick occasionally. These are all some of my signs that I am too busy and need to take a step back. Thanks Crabbe, for the busy footprint term and the reminder to check in!

2) Role Models: Crabbe noted the importance of finding role models who demonstrate alternate behaviour. Someone who you look up to and can learn from who perhaps isn’t overwhelmed with their busy footprint. Just because it is the norm to be busy these days, doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who don’t feel this way. I would go further than Crabbe and note, try to model this behaviour for yourself as well as for others. Be the change you want to see in the world!

3) Rules of engagement: Crabbe shared some great stories in his book about this topic. It revolves around setting expectations and boundaries with the people in your life (yourself included), both at home and at work and at play. Crabbe talks about a senior executive who runs a large successful company, who set expectations and boundaries with his workplace to accommodate his attendance to important familial events ex: dance recitals, graduations, etc. Figure out what your non-negotiables are and set boundaries for yourself and those you work with. It is ok to leave work to be with your family, and it is ok to leave your family to do work. This is a fine balance that rules of engagement can really support with! Thanks Crabbe for bringing this to my attention.

So here I sit with a bandage on my thumb thinking about my busy footprint. I am looking forward to continuing to read Crabbe’s Busy book and taking a more mindful approach to the rest of my day. If you are interested to learn more about mindfulness, check out our previous posts on the topic by clicking here.


Tony Crabbe, Busy - How to Thrive in a World of Too Much (2015)