In recent years, being busy has become not only a mark of social status but an addiction for many women (and it is mostly women who behave in this way). Everyone and their dog are ‘crazy busy’ these days, and it’s often used as an excuse as to why someone hasn’t done something they were meant to. ‘Oh, sorry I didn’t return your call or text, things have been crazy around here.’ ‘Sorry I didn’t send you on those documents, it’s been manic and I haven’t had a moment to myself.’
But can everyone really be this busy?
How often have you climbed into bed exhausted from being super busy all day?
But exactly how much did you actually achieve at the end of the day?
Yes we may all be juggling careers, businesses, families, partners, sex, children, friends, and if you’re lucky, exercise; and we have become skilful at juggling and multitasking, list creating and micro-managing our dead time; time spent travelling or lying in bed now used for catching up on emails and calls. But is our satisfaction at the end of the day only coming from the fact that we’ve crossed things off of our to-do-list? Are we actually achieving anything of value?
When we fill our daily lives with busyness, we disconnect from what really matters to us and fail to give everything and everyone our undivided attention.
If you’re running your own business it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, but are you actually doing anything to move your business forward? Many of us are so consumed with being busy and working through our to-do-list that we often forget to work on our business, instead of in our business. We’re not an employee we’re the boss and it’s our responsibility to drive the business forward.
It is possible to be less busy, but it will take a lot of practice and a change in the way that we think.
Below are our top tips for being less busy and more productive.
At the start of every day write down three things that you want to accomplish that day. Those three things must be something that is actually going to drive your business or life forward. If you desperately want to lose weight then top of the list should be exercise; similarly, with your business, you have to think about the bigger picture and what you want to accomplish that week, month or year, and how you are going to get closer to that goal; what are you going to do today to achieve that?
Qualify each of your tasks to make sure you absolutely need to do it. Could someone else do it instead? Women think they can take on the world and like to have control over everything. This attitude is not going to get you closer to where you want to get; delegate tasks to those around you (if you live and work with others). If you don’t really need to do it, then take it off of your list; there’s no point stressing yourself over a pile of books you feel you simply must read but are procrastinating over. Identify what is genuinely important and needs doing and take the rest off your list; when you’re ready you’ll get to it, but for now take it off the list and relieve the pressure you’ve self-imposed.
Make those three tasks your priority above everything else. If something comes up which is going to take you away from achieving those goals then you have to ignore it. You may think you have to return that email asap, or deal with another pressing issue right that very second, but trust me you don’t. It will still be there later on. Answering emails for example, can be a huge suck on your time and extremely distracting. Log out of your emails and turn off your ping notifications. Put your phone on silent and place it face down so you can’t see when a message or call comes through. Better still; put your phone in another room or in your handbag so that you aren’t tempted. Tell those working with you that you don’t want to be disturbed for the next few hours, have a complete digital detox and shut yourself off from the outside world. Once you have completed your core tasks you can return to your busy to-do-list. This is the absolute antithesis of multitasking which was once considered a desirable skill. You now want to develop your skill for singletasking which allows you to be more present and focused on the task at hand.
It’s especially important for those of us who work from home and are not based in an office to stay focused. It’s tempting to put off key tasks because you’re looking at a pile of washing that needs doing, or you just remembered there’s nothing in the fridge for dinner, or your kids need a costume for school the next day. If you were working for someone else in an office you wouldn’t be able to drop everything to go tend to your washing, so why do it now? You have to be disciplined and the only way to do that is to manage your time more effectively. You have to be super organised for this to work, and if you find you’re getting bogged down with ‘stuff’ then stop, reassess and get back on track. Be honest with yourself and whenever you find yourself drifting to another task, stop yourself and go back to the job in hand.
Use apps to help you work more effectively. There are a number of apps that can help you to save time such as bank apps to help you pay bills or transfer money, and apps to help you manage everything from your inbox and calendar to your social media.
Where there’s a will there’s a way! If you are super busy, rearranging your to-do-list even slightly, is likely to free up some time for you to spend working on your business. Blocking out 1-2 hours of time is better than having half a day that is disrupted by daily chores and errands. You’ll probably find you get more done in those 2 hours than during an afternoon spent dipping in and out of work.
Go easy on yourself; there’ll be some days where you will be more organised and get more done than others and that’s OK. Your best is good enough.