Today everyone is busy! When you ask someone how they are, they invariably will answer busy. This doesn’t give you any insight into how they are actually feeling because they are probably too busy to spend the time talking to you to tell you. We live our lives in a constant state of doing and if we’re not doing we feel we should be doing so we find something to do. And then we’re exhausted and complain that we’ve so much to do and not enough time – an endless cycle or should I say sprint!
Is all this busyness actually productive and healthy?
We’re on constantly, feeling like we have to react and respond to every message, email and request instantly. This means we are not focusing on ourselves and our own goals and plans and therefore our own productivity is lessened. It also means we are not spending enough time doing the things we really want to or with the people we really care about. We jump from one activity to the next in the workplace, at home and often they are only half completed as a result which leads to more stress and dissatisfaction.
“Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” ~ Tim Ferriss
So, what can we do to help cure this syndrome?
1/ Have a plan and priorities
Write down all the things you have to do, or think you have to both in and out of work and ask yourself:
- What would happen if I didn’t do it?
- Does it need to be done today, tomorrow, this week/month/year?
- Am I doing it for me or someone else?
- What is the outcome of my doing it?
And then cut your list of the items that really don’t matter and prioritise the things that do. Make a plan to complete them in a timeframe and continue to build the list so you are always focusing on the stuff that matters. Include time out, walks in the park, cinema trips, meeting up with friends and family as these are things that will really put a smile on your face.
2/ Be aware of time
Value time and you are less likely to spend it in mindless busyness. Be conscious of how you are spending it, you will never get it back so don’t waste it. This mindset is difficult to learn but once you learn to treasure it you will start to live it fully.
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Simple things like reading while waiting for appointments or sitting in a queue, listening to audiobooks or podcasts in the car or while cleaning the house, getting out for a walk or a workout at lunchtime – get creative with time and you will get more done.
3/ Apply the 80-20 rule
The Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Find out where your 20% should be focused, which efforts and activities are yielding 80% of your desired outcomes and making you happy and which 20% are causing your problems and unhappiness. If you can identify these, you can begin to eliminate your inefficiencies and build on your strengths.
“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker
4/ Empower yourself
We often complain about being too busy, we become a victim to it and it then becomes a mindset. We need to make a conscious decision to break that pattern and make changes, empower yourself.
5/ Rest and Sleep
With our 24/7 lifestyles and always on culture, sleep is becoming a luxury for many people. We all know how important it is, how we can’t function mentally, physically and emotionally to our full capacity without it. Don’t let your busy schedule impede on a good night’s sleep. Turn off the phone, say no and rest. Your time awake will be much more productive.
And especially at this time of year with end of year targets, social events, the intense pressure to create the most perfect Christmas along with all the other things we feel we need to be doing, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself what’s important.
Next time you are asked how you are don’t say Busy answer with how you are actually feeling!
If you need help with time management, goal setting or planning contact Voltedge on 01 5252914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about our learning and development courses.
Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager