We live in a busy world. Just ask anyone and they will tell you! How are you? Busy they say. But it’s not just busy, it’s crazy busy, soooo busy or out of control busy.
It seems this is how we identify ourselves these days. I’m a busy mum. I’m a busy entrepreneur. I’m a busy (insert here). It’s becoming rather boring and we seem to be passionate about being the same as everyone else and winning the busy competition (you couldn’t possibly be busier than me!) at a time when we should be aiming to stand out and get known for what we’re really good at and how we are making a difference.
Because you’re not just busy are you? I believe you’re a whole lot more than that.
It does evoke one unavoidable and important question though – what are you busy doing?
This is the big question we must answer and it’s the response to that question that we need to get serious about.
When I ask people for their definition of busy, it almost always differs, particularly within a team. Some think it’s a good thing, they need to be busy. Most believe it’s not – it’s overwhelming, it feels out of control and it feels exhausting. It’s something that 90% of the people I ask want to change.
Often we can easily get sucked into the vortex of just being busy being busy. We’re get absorbed into back to back meetings, immersed in the hundreds of emails that land in our inbox and respond to multiple ‘urgent demands’. We are running around chasing our tails rather than being purposeful and intentional in our actions. We do things out of a misguided sense of obligation (hello people pleasers!) rather than understanding what we should be saying no to. And all the while, we are feeling guilty about what we are not doing at the same time.
It’s the guilt, the feeling of frustration that is created by not doing what makes us happy or what is important to us that is the concern. This can lead to a decline in mental health, the feeling of being lost and isolated and an increase in anxiety levels. You only need to look at the mental health statistics in Australia for evidence of this.
The thing to remember is – busy is a mindset and an addictive habit. Australian psychologist Leanne Faraday Brash says busy is addictive and it’s become a competition. Being a super competitive person, this isn’t a competition I want to win anymore. The only good thing about this is busy is a habit that you can change – if you want to.
It’s time to put busyness out of business! We need to turn busy into productive and something that works for us rather than against us.
So how do you get control of busy?
Here are 5 tips to get you started:
- Understand you can’t do everything. I know, I know, you think you can and you might want to but the fact is you can’t! Understand what is really important to you at this point in time and have comfort in the fact that this will change and evolve. You will get to do it all just not all at the same time.
- Get clarity on what your priorities are. What is really important to you and for you? Starting with you – how will you enable you to be the best version of you? Is it exercise, sleep, meditation, taking time to just be, eating well? What are your top priorities as a family? What’s important to you as a couple? Establish your top 3 priorities that if you did these consistently, it would make you feel fulfilled and happy.
- Understand what you need to say no to. By understanding what you should be saying yes to as a priority enables you to better understand what you need to say no to. This is key to avoiding the busy trap. Once you get good at this – it’s liberating! As Naomi Simpson from Red Balloon says – ‘No is a statement!’ Forget your justifications; be confident in your decision.
- Establish boundaries – how will you ensure you do what you have established as your priorities? Plan to achieve and commit to that plan. It takes some old fashioned discipline to create new habits that will support you and they may not feel good at the time but as you master them I can assure you they will feel great.
- Carve out time for reflection each day. This might be simply 10 minutes but use this time to reflect on how you’ve been throughout the day. I take 30 minutes each day to remove distractions and just think. You might ask yourself these questions – What did I do today that I am proud of? Did I slip back into old habits today? What do I need to change so tomorrow is better? By elevating your thinking out of the ‘doing’ it will enable you to understand how you are operating and give you the ability to circumvent any bad habits quicker than if you didn’t do the reflection at all.
We need to understand that we all have the same amount of hours in the day. This is one of the few things that we are all equal in regardless of race, gender or affluence. It’s how we use the time we have that will make the difference. You are in complete control of the hours you have so make them count.
Let’s change the conversation away from busy to something that is full of colour and one that enables people to understand how you are making a difference in your world. Let’s decide to do what is purposeful and meaningful for us and what makes us happy. Let’s connect back to who we are at the core and live a life in alignment with that. Let’s put busyness out of business for good!
Written by Julie Hyde.
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