My New Year’s Resolution is to stop being so busy. It seems that “busy” is a competition for everyone today.
“How are you today?”
“I’m really busy. You?”
I don’t want to be busy. Busy isn’t good. Busy is panic, lots of movement, but not big on results.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”I88sg” via=”yes” ]Are you busy or productive?[/ctt]
How was your holiday season or your 2019? Were you busy or productive?
I was too busy. Too many places to go, too many things to do. That is how the last quarter of 2019 was for me too. I was struggling to keep my head above water. I was getting work done, but missing little details. I wasn’t sleeping at night as I was worried about all the things I had to do the next day. I wasn’t doing the things that I wanted to be doing. That is not how I want 2020 to be.
How was 2019 for you? Was it too busy? How was your holiday season? Did you feel that you had good visits with friends and family, or were you panicked you wouldn’t make it to the mall before it closed?
Being busy isn’t the same as being productive. Busy is packing your schedule with activities, tasks, things to do. Lots of action, but not much was accomplished. You feel overwhelmed, rushed, and rarely feel satisfied from being busy.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”Tta86″ via=”yes” ]Busy is feeling overwhelmed, rushed, and rarely satisfied. Productive is organization and priorities. Which are you?[/ctt]
Productive is good. Productive is a skill. We learn to be productive. It’s organization and priorities.
Here is what you need to do to find out if you should agree to another (busy) task:
Be deliberate. IF someone asks you to join a committee or volunteer for something (personal or professional), it doesn’t mean you should agree. Look at whatever you are being asked to do and ask yourself:
- What will be put aside for me to say yes to this?
- Is this in my best interest? Will it help me in the future?
- Do I even want to do this?
- If yes to above, what boundaries are necessary so that I don’t get stuck being busy?
If the answer is no to any of those questions, this might not be the best use of your time. It is busy work that isn’t productive for you.
For instance: Let’s assume you’ve been asked to be part of the social committee at work. The group needs a leader. Someone who will organize the social events (bowling, pot luck lunches, birthdays) at work for everyone.
- a) What will be put aside for me to say yes to this? If I say yes and become part of the social committee, then what am I saying no to? Perhaps I am saying no to going to the gym, spending time with my family, working overtime to keep caught up. Am I okay with this? If what you are saying no to has a higher priority, then you cannot say yes to this opportunity.
- b) Is this in my best interest? Will it help me in the future? Being social is fun; it is good for relationships; it is good for exposure at work. It will allow more people to know who I am. Yes, being on the social committee might very well be in my best interest and help me in the future.
- c) Do I even want to do this? Sometimes you get this far in the questions and realize that you don’t want to do whatever “busy” task you’ve been asked to do. If you don’t want to do it, why are you doing it? If the answers for the first two questions are compelling enough that you “should” do this, then you should want to do it as it is in your best interest. If you don’t want to, it isn’t the right thing for you to be doing.
- d) What boundaries are necessary so that I don’t get stuck being busy? Sometimes we take on tasks because they are the right tasks to take on. What we don’t want is to be “busy” with these tasks. Instead, we need to be productive. For me to be productive, I need to set boundaries such as: I will devote no more than two hours per week, I will not skip my gym visit to work on the social committee, I will ensure that I have a team of volunteers and not do everything myself.
What if you were asked to be a coach for your daughter’s hockey team?
- a) What will be put aside for me to say yes to this? This will cause one night a week to be very rushed at home. It will feel busy. Dinner will have to be prepared before, or sandwiches packed so we can get to the rink on time. I will need to put aside the desire to have a calm evening and agree to have one hectic evening one night per week. Am I okay with this?
- b) Is this in my best interest, and will it help me in the future? It won’t help me professionally, but it is in the best interest of my child and my child’s future.
- c) Do I want to? No. I don’t, but I feel guilty that the team doesn’t have a coach. Stop the process here. The answer is no.
It won’t always be easy. Sometimes we take on tasks that are purely busy work because of guilty or even habit. The questions make it easier to identify what you are saying yes to. Is it busy work or productive work?
I still get caught in busy work and expect that I will in 2020 as well. However, with my checklist, I can minimize the busy work and make more time for productivity.
I hope you can too!