How often do you ask someone how they are going and they reply: “Busy.” You then have a discussion with them about being busy. It usually has overtones of overwhelm and touches of fatigue. The emphasis in the discussion is around the busyness and its impact. If you permit me to say so, it’s a rather inane discussion! There is often no comment made about what success the busyness is achieving. When we are busy, always on the go, we appear to be achieving things, but that is not always the case.
Busyness often means we are lurching from one thing to the other without thinking. We can become robotic, doing the same thing every day without questioning whether it is important, necessary or even a priority. As the late Peter Drucker, one of our greatest management consultants, said: “There’s nothing more useless than doing well that which need not be done at all.”
Busyness can also mean that we are multi-tasking, doing many things at once, doing none of them well and certainly not achieving success at what we are doing. While we used to admire people who could multi-task, we now know that this is not a good use of our time in most cases. We waste considerable time shifting our brain from one task to another and back. It also does not assist us to focus on what we are doing to produce the best outcomes or the success we really want.
Busyness is often caused by our inability to switch off in this 24/7 world of technology. Because we are constantly stimulated by our smart phone office that we carry in our pocket, we have a sense that we are constantly busy because our brain is always on alert, always active. In fact, our brain becomes fatigued and does not function with the alertness and focus that brings success or results in highly productive individuals.
Busyness also means that we do not take time to reflect and contemplate, to step back out of it all and look back in with new eyes. When we don’t do this we fail to keep up with what’s new and cutting edge in our profession or industry sector. When we do stop, we realise we have missed the boat. We are trailing behind in innovative practice.
The challenge is to change gears and let go of busyness and focus on achievements.
- When people ask you how you are, change the dialogue. Tell them what you are doing, what you are working on, the success you are having but also what challenges you. Have productive and meaningful discussions about what makes you busy and how the busyness is paying off.
- Know what is important and valuable and make that your priority. Focus your work and your life around priorities. Work out what you are going to stop doing as well and leave that space free to smell the roses.
- Manage your energy. Eat well, drink water and hydrate yourself and exercise. Only put into your body what will energise it for achieving great outcomes. Take breaks to refresh and recharge – during the day, during the week, during the year.
- Take time to reflect and contemplate. Go walking in a place that lifts your spirit to another level. Meditate. Do Tai Chi, Pilates or yoga. Sit with a book or professional journal or listen to a podcast and get the creative juices flowing that will lead you to the success you truly deserve.
Why is this important?
You have unique talents and abilities and potential that is untapped. While you allow yourself to be caught in a storm of busyness you cannot focus on discovering that and gaining the clarity you need to become who you truly are and make the contribution you are capable of making. You cannot bring to your professional and personal life the stuff that will make a real difference.