As human beings living our hectic lifestyles, we are all “busy”. I get it. We all have activities and deadlines that need to be met. We all have stuff that needs to be taken care of.
But there are some people who I come across that seem to be “busy” all the time.
For example, how many times have you heard the following phrases?
I’m so busy all the time that I’m just barely keeping my head above water
I’m so busy all the time because I’m getting buried with work
I’m so busy all the time because I’m constantly putting out fires and not at my desk
Now I’m not trying to detract from anyone’s workload but when I hear these phrases constantly uttered from the same people over and over again, I often marvel at how these people are able to stay sane.
For example, I have this one acquaintance of mine who is always complaining that he is “swamped” with work and never has any free time to work on his own stuff or his online businesses.
But get this. This guy is single, doesn’t have a girlfriend, doesn’t have any kids and basically has no responsibilities whatsoever. He works a day job at a medium sized company that is fairly well established. How the heck could he not have time to do anything?
To this day, I have never been able to figure it out.
Should You Be Busier?
But here’s the funny thing. After every conversation I have with “busy” people, I’m always left second guessing myself as to whether I’m fully utilizing my time to its full potential.
Whenever I hear about how “swamped” someone is, I usually start feeling a bit guilty. Am I not falling behind? Am I not as busy because I’m lazy? Should I be working more hours?
The truth is that these days, I rarely feel “slammed” with work. Even though I have a two kids, a full time job, an online store, a blog and an online course, I still find myself with quite a bit of leisure time.
There are times when I do feel overwhelmed with work to do, but it rarely lasts for more than a few days and then everything goes back to normal again. So when people ask me what I’ve been up to lately, I usually reply “Nothing much. Things are pretty chill”.
So I for one am curious. Why do certain people constantly feel overwhelmed with their workloads? Why do certain people never have any free time? I know that I would go crazy if I was constantly “buried with work”.
How Efficient Are You Really?
In fact, I can’t help but feel as though the people who are “always busy” aren’t using their time very efficiently.
For every story that I hear about someone spending 18 hours at the office or working 100 hour weeks, I can’t help but think that very little real work is accomplished during that time.
Why? It’s because I for one can not maintain absolute focus for more than a couple of hours at a time. If I had to work 18 hours straight, I would bet that only 6 hours max would result in actual productive work.
If you look at your day to day. How much of what you actually do feels like a real accomplishment?
Does Your Day Feel Like A Blur?
There are some days when I feel like every minute of my day is completely packed. But then when I look back, I realize that I’ve actually accomplished very little.
Does this ever happen to you? The reality is that it’s very easy to fill your schedule with activities and tasks that keep you busy but how important are they in the grand scheme of things? Is what you are doing everyday having an impact on where you want to be in the future?
I used to feel like I was busy all the time until I had my first child. And it was only then that I started to realize how inefficiently I was spending my time.
And then when my second child was born, I knew I needed to change. Otherwise, every single day would simply pass by and I’d never be able to get anything done.
The truth is that it’s very easy to fill up every hour of your day with stuff to do but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do so. You need to have a plan and a clear set of priorities.
Be Productive Not Busy
In order to be less busy, you need to be smarter with how you spend your time. Here are a few things that I started doing post-kids to maintain an efficient schedule.
- Prioritize Everything – I assign a priority to practically everything that I need to do. Things that absolutely need to get done rise to the top of my task list whereas activities that are less important fall to the bottom. Also, I say no to stuff all the time.
What are my priorities based on? If something is fun and family/friends oriented, it usually comes first. Otherwise, I tend to prioritize activities that will further my businesses or personal relationships in some tangible way. Everything else gets dropped on the floor.
- Utilize Scarcity – I often assign specific time blocks to the tasks that I need to get accomplished. For example, to write this blog post, I set aside exactly 2 hours. And coincidentally, two hours have passed and I’m just about done.
Personally, I’ve found that by constraining the amount of time I have to complete a task, the more likely it will get done within a certain time frame.
- Keep A Schedule – In order to make sure that I constantly make forward progress on a project or business plan, I always set aside a specific time to work on specific tasks.
For example, Sunday night is always devoted to writing blog posts. Thursday night is devoted to working on my online store. By keeping to a consistent schedule, I ensure consistent progress on all of my businesses
However outside of my scheduled activities, all the rest of my time is devoted to leisure time with family.
Reassess How Busy You Really Are
When it comes to be being busy, you need to be honest with yourself. After all, being busy is not some sort of badge of honor. It’s not an indicator of success either.
And please don’t ever use “being busy” as an excuse not to do something that will impact your life for the better. If you have the desire to start your own online business, then make it a priority.
Add it to your schedule and set aside a small block of time every week to work on it. If you are doing things correctly, you should never feel busy but productive.
photo credit: Gibson Claire McGuire Regester
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