Have you ever been rushing around trying to get things done and at the end of the day realized you didn’t accomplish what you really needed to accomplish?
Yes, it felt great to check those things off your to-do list. Your studio was clean, you posted on Facebook and Instagram multiple times, and you felt like you got so much done. After all the list was full of check marks or crossed-off items. It was proof.
But did you really accomplish the important things that would move your business or your life forward?
In all likelihood the answer is no. You got caught up in “busy.” Working on things you think might make a difference.
The problem is when you get caught up in busy, it’s because you said yes to too much. You said yes without thinking.
Is busy your standard response?
Recently at church I was with a group of people, and I was asking for a volunteer for a project. One of the women immediately said, “Oh, I’m too busy. You know, I work for myself.” The other woman looked at her and quickly said, “We’re all busy.”
The first woman wore busy like a trophy, but is it really?
I think of busyness as a lack of focus. You don’t really take time to figure out where you should be spending your time or what is important in your life and/or business.
Happiness expert and sociologist with the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley says, “Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear.”
Where does busyness lead?
It’s easy to get caught up in the little nitty-gritty of your business and not focus on what is really important.
If that’s where you are, you may find out that busyness leads to a variety of unintended consequences: over-commitment; overwhelm; procrastination; loss of connection; or, in the extreme, exhaustion and illness.
You don’t think that’s where you are headed. Take another look at whether or not your life looks like you had envisioned. Do you really make time for what you say matters?
How to say no to busy
Whether you think so or not, busyness is totally within your control. You are the one who added these things onto your plate. Here are some tips to get out of busy.
Get clear on what your goals are and what your priority is.
Understand what you get from busyness. Spend time trying to figure out the rewards for you. Maybe the busyness is really showing up as procrastination because you are clear on a project or don’t feel committed to it. Maybe you are busy because you haven’t figured out what is urgent vs important. So much busywork tends to be someone else’s urgent agenda, not your important one.
Don’t say yes to things that aren’t moving you forward in your goals. Look at what is on your to-do list and see what isn’t moving you toward your goal and take it off.
Look at your work habits. What are you doing that leads to busy? Do you multi-task? It doesn’t work. Do you aim for perfection? You don’t need to get an A on everything you do. Many times your B- will be good enough. In all likelihood, if you are a perfectionist, your B- is already excellent.
Track your time. Related to your work habits, figure out where you time goes and how long projects/tasks take you. Once you know how you’ve been allotting your time, it may be easier to say no to what doesn’t matter.
Practice saying no. If you start saying no to things that don’t matter, you will be able to say yes to those that do. I learned long ago that when someone asked me to do something, they just wanted a yes or no response. If it was no, they moved onto the next person on the list.
Practice being present. Some of those unintended consequences came about because you weren’t present.
Check in with yourself. Because busyness is often due to a lack of focus, set a timer when you are working so you can see if you’ve lost focus and wandered off into busyness.
It may take practice to stop being busy with things that don’t matter. If you do, though, it will make a difference in living a life of your dreams or someone else’s.
It’s your turn!
Do you struggle with busy? And how do you get out of it?