“I am so busy”

Busy-ness is like a disease. It gets worse over time. It’s easy to work more hours than ever before whilst not being as productive as we should be. What impact does it have on our business? Is it possible to become smarter, achieve more and have more time to enjoy our lives outside of work? Yes it is!

There are many causes leading us to become busy fools. As pressure has increased during the past year or so, a natural reaction is to run faster, work longer and work harder. Since the pandemic I’m still hearing many agency people are in back-to-back meetings from early morning to early evening each day. I wonder if this is exacerbated by clients knowing they can contact you at home?

I am so busy

Stephen Covey talked about the “activity trap” whereby we busily climb the ladder of activity without realising it is against the wrong wall.

Many people have a “to do list” which they diligently work their way through from top to bottom. Instead identify the top 3 actions on the “to do list”. Which are the real priorities?  Focus on those first and then tackle the next 3 priorities. Develop a “to think list” identifying the key areas in which you need to spend time thinking.

When we’re over working we can become more easily stressed. Stress reduces our creativity and quality thinking. Under pressure most of us become a less pleasant version of ourselves. Friction increases and motivation decreases.

My fear is that rushing has become the new norm. When we rush there is a strong likelihood we don’t produce our best work and we are more likely to make mistakes.

We can become too focused on the short term and not focused on the bigger picture and longer term goals. It is vital to strike the right balance between the two.

So how can we be smarter and more productive? Here are 6 tips to help you be more effective and achieve more each day.

I am so busy
  1. . Firstly recognise that everything that happens to you in business is your responsibility. The buck stops with you! Set aside time to plan and really think about your business and where you want be in 2-3 years time.
  2. “Plans are nothing, planning is everything” Eisenhower said. It is the act of thinking and planning which is more important than the actual plan. Build time into your diary every week to spend a couple of hours to think and plan – that’s only around 5% of your work-week. Ideally I’d recommend spending minimum 10% of your work week planning. Perversely the busier you are the more the need to stop and plan.
  3. Get away from your desk to think creatively and innovatively. Typically our best ideas and thinking come spontaneously when we least expect them. Identify when you get your best ideas. It may be in the shower, walking, swimming or chilling with a glass of wine which is one of my favourites! There is no single right way. Find your way.
  4. Push back on ridiculous deadlines unless it is a crisis or if there is a real need to move fast. Will you always get more time when you push back on unreasonable deadlines? Of course not, but you will much of the time.
  5. Take time to anticipate what is likely to happen and be said at important meetings. You can then prepare your options and response in advance without the pressure ‘in the moment’. Think thorough the implications of your decisions and different options.
  6. For one week keep a detailed diary to see where you are really spending your time. How could you reduce your time working and be more effective during that time?

When you next see your boss don’t tell them how busy you are, tell them what you’ve achieved.

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