Imagine if we spent a day collating answers to the question, ‘How are you?’
What do you think the most common answer would be?
Yes, you guessed it – BUSY!
Busy has become synonymous with ‘good’, successful, and important. For sure, an overworked lifestyle has become some kind of status symbol. We conflate being busy with being successful and influential because society has taught us that. So, it was interesting to read an article in The Harvard Business Review recently where they talked about this very subject.
They say, “Organisations need to stop conflating activity with achievement. Corporate cultures that value busyness are at least partially to blame.”
I think sometimes we forget that busyness is a choice. We rush around as if we have no say in the matter. It seems there is always somewhere you need to be or do, but the real question is, what are we all so busy doing?
Perhaps we could delegate things (even if it’s to our partner), there are things we could decline or we do on autopilot. Do you ever stop to ask yourself if some of the things you take on are of value to you, and are these things the best use of your time?
I certainly didn’t until I learned that if we are lucky enough to get to the grand age of 80 years old, we only have 4,000 weeks on the planet. So surely, we need to be stopping and asking ourselves, are the things we are doing, things we’ve always done, we could delegate it, but it’s quicker to do ourselves or do you value that time, task, or activity.
Just building awareness is a huge game changer in doing more of the things you value, whether at work or leisure time.
These days we do overcrowd our diaries. I was so guilty of that, constantly feeling like there wasn’t enough time, overwhelmed and disorganised. With so much, from social activities and responsibilities to work tasks, it leaves us no time for the things that are important to us or the tasks that move the dial on our career or business.
I fell into the trap two years ago, running 2 businesses. I wondered how I’d get everything done for both, so I decided to add more hours into my day and reduce my sleep. I did the 5am club to start to try and fit ‘more in’, but I just got more and more wrapped up in doing more. The more emails I got through, the more would come through. Being focused on getting all these things done, I didn’t give myself time to ask – do they need to be delegated? Are these the most important things I could be doing with my time?
Turns out that getting up at 5am I got much less done. I was always tired, and my energy was being sapped, which would make me generally less productive. I was not getting out and being inspired by meeting new people and places, so my creativity was at an all-time low, and I’d not seen my friends for months. I was miserable!
“The more productive we become, the more we can fit in, the busier we get, and the less time we feel like we have got”Sam Smith
And becoming more productive pushes the genuinely important stuff ever further away.
Our days are spent trying to ‘get through’ our to-do lists to get those tasks ‘out of the way first’. How many of us get the small stuff out of the way so we can concentrate on the big stuff, and that time never comes, we don’t end up moving the dial? (I fell into that trap).
Working like this made me more rushed, and trying to clear the decks simply made them fill up again faster.
Also being so wrapped up in ‘busy’ has a counter effect that we become afraid of the blank space. Time just being in the present. We automatically pick up our phones when we could just have a moment of downtime. We even turn away from rest when that is the one thing we need to be productive. We make choices that make us feel like there is not enough time.
Do you resonate?
If you are perpetually caught in a cycle of doing more, you can be too busy to enjoy life, so here are 3 tips to help you be productive rather than busy.
3 tips for being productive rather than busy
ONE – Time track your week
Do this for 3-7 days. The longer you do this, the better picture you’ll get as to where your time is going. You can record this on a simple spreadsheet or in a journal. Make sure you record EVERYTHING from waking up to going to sleep.
This will allow you to look back and design a better week for yourself, see where you can delegate things or say no to things.
TWO – Watch out for autopilot
This pesky little habit of ours. Stop and ask yourself if that activity or task is worth your time.
THREE – Remember “Saying YES to something means saying NO to something else”
Photocredit: Pelle Cass