I know you’re feeling busy. I get it. I hear myself and my clients talking about it on a weekly or even daily basis. And with it, we share how resourceful we feel. We may struggle to move forward. If we are busy, are we busy with the right things? And, how busy are we really?
Let’s deconstruct our current reality of being busy and ultimately, get back to a place where we are productive and focused.
To help this along, let’s look at the top things that are pulling us away from staying focused and present for the most important things in our work and life. What are the habits that are stopping us from being the best and most resourceful version of ourselves?
1. Lack of long-term thinking
When we feel really busy, we focus on the things that need to be done right now. We’re firefighting; we’re putting on that fire cape or jumping in. Sometimes that makes us feel really good. Anything that allows us to feel we’ve achieved something activates the pleasure centers of our brain. Yet, jumping from task to task doesn’t allow us, at the end of the day, to remember what we’ve accomplished. As a result, we feel we need to work harder and squeeze in more time to get things done. It creates this continual sense of busyness; that’s hard to break the cycle. Instead, try to pull yourself back when you notice this cycle. Think about what you most need to work on long-term and make progress on that. Otherwise, you’ll be exactly where you are this time next year, feeling busy and overwhelmed.
2. Ego or others’ priorities ruling your time
Some of us don’t feel we can say no. Some of my coaching clients are finding strategies to assert themselves because they have had a longstanding belief that you can’t say “no” to your family, your boss, or other commitments. It might be people pleasing. It might be fear of conflict. It might be ego (it feels good to be the go-to person). No matter the reason, being overwhelmed with busyness is more desirable than the risk to our ego or relationships with saying no.
If you can’t say no, if you can’t prioritize what’s most important, then no wonder you’re feeling busy. You don’t do your best work. You can’t keep up that momentum forever. How might it actually be a source of strength, or support to others, by saying “no” to some things?
3. Feeling like we need to be involved
Do you feel that if you’re not involved, in the know and have your hand in things, you’re disconnected? I worked with an organization that put all kinds of systems in place to reduce the workload on busy middle managers. It was a great project in theory, and yet they couldn’t figure out why everyone was feeling so distressed. Six months after they launched this (multi-million-dollar investment) of an additional layer of leadership, what they found was that it was their culture all along that was the problem: if you weren’t at the meeting, you didn’t matter. So, guess what? Everyone, including this new level of leadership, was at all the meetings. Problem not solved because it didn’t address the root issue.
Busyness can come from a culture or a mindset that unless you’re in the middle of it you’re not adding value or you’re not connected. But what if others can do a great job without you there? That they can shine? That you can shine doing what you do best and not in the weeds?
4. Lack of collaboration
Do you ever feel you have to be the mastermind or need to manage a project, initiative or change yourself? That if it weren’t for you it wouldn’t happen at all or as well? Well, there comes a point when you can’t be involved in it all or that your bandwidth is so stretched you can’t do a great job managing all the projects you do have on the go. The solution: collaboration. Given that perfect is the enemy of progress, and that not everyone will get it right the first time or do it exactly the way you have, they probably can do a pretty good job. And that through mentoring folks through it, you’re building capacity and benefiting from their ideas and expertise.
I hope you found this as a great opportunity to reflect on some of the reasons why you perhaps are feeling busy and that maybe one or two of the things that we’ve talked about today will help you try another strategy to “unbusy” your life. So much is about mindset as much as the method. Join us next week for a part two on this topic to continue to help you be productive, focused and of course, great.