Can You Be Too Busy?
Is your career suffering from being too busy?
There is a lot to say about being busy. Some good, some bad. But the important thing is to recognize a difference between being busy and being effective.
Being busy is not contributing. Sometimes too much activity results in lower performance and not accomplishing your goals.
The last year has been full of change. None more so than the workday most of us keep. Working from home has become the norm; most of us will soon have a scenario that will include some mix of working from home and working from the office. Change once again.
There is a lot to do. In fact, I know people who are working regular 12 hour days just to keep up.
That’s a formula for failure!
I’m not talking about time management. I’m talking about about prioritizing. Knowing what is important, and making certain you accomplish it. Positioning yourself to thrive going forward. Making certain you are not too busy to be successful.
Too often we get caught up in things that have to be done. There are always things that have to be done — that’s our job. And it gets busier every day. If some people rely on you today, more people will eventually do so tomorrow.
You get busier as you help more people. That’s where the issue lies. You take care of things; you help others; you make certain everything is done right. You are busy doing. You don’t say no.
At the end of the day (or week or month) you realize that you have ignored things that fit into the category of “the future”. This could include allocating time at work to plan, to understand the challenges and develop a way to overcome them. It could also be something personal – learning, developing, serving, or even relaxing.
Whatever it is, it did not get done because your schedule did not have time. In special situations that may be ok, but in the long term, both you, those that count on you, and your organization, suffer.
Each of us has a limited supply of time. We also have the power to determine how to invest it. Those who don’t take this seriously give up potential, and maybe aspects of their future, by only addressing immediate demands. That’s an expensive trade off, and leads to stress, dissatisfaction and disappointment.
Know what is important by prioritizing, for today and the future, then make it happen by allocating time in your schedule.
In a recent article, Inc.com shared “the 80% energy rule”, based on the Confucian teaching hara hachi bu, which is often translated as “eat until you are 80% full”. Use 80% of your energy each day, leaving time and energy for whatever else comes up.
Don’t max yourself out in all aspects of your life – and career. Have some reserves. The challenge going forward is not returning to normal, but rebuilding for greater resilience. Don’t be busy, be successful.
These suggestions will help focus on things that you consider important:
- Set aside one hour each week for “planning.” That’s your hour. Use the time to consider the longer term – not to solve immediate issues. Focus on what you choose – business, personal or a combination. That time is yours.
- Write down what you want to accomplish (a study from the Dominican University in California found that people who wrote down their goals were 42% more likely to achieve them. If you share them with someone else, that percentage goes up dramatically. That’s where coaches can help.)
- Set a “time to accomplish by” date for each.
- Celebrate each success.
These are simple steps which take discipline. They take focus. They take commitment. And they take prioritizing. It’s your time. Protect it jealously. Use it wisely!