Are you as busy as you think?
Every single person on the planet has the same 168 hours a week to spend. So why can some people achieve so much more in a week than others?
I told myself I wanted to write more consistently on my blog this year. But a whole month has passed and little new content has made its way onto here. I told myself it was okay, I’ve been really busy and am at full capacity, so something had to have been put on the back burner, right?
In modern society it has become acceptable to complain about our busyness and use it to justify our value to society. An inflated badge of honour that we talk about at every opportunity, but never seen to do anything about. We use busyness to define our success, when really it is the ultimate form of procrastination.
“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action”Tim Ferris
Turns out I was lying to myself, avoiding getting things done and inflating the amount of work I was doing in other areas. I began to really truly think about how much I was getting done every day. I started keeping track of time, writing down how long I was on Facebook and Instagram, how often I said I was sleeping but was actually mindlessly watching crap tv in bed. I was wasting time and lying about how long I was studying for then wondering why I wasn’t getting anything done.
You start entering the viscous cycle of deferring decisions. Then the clutter begins to accumulate, manifesting what we are putting off, our brains reminding us that we are procrastinating. Then the clutter prevents you concentrating. You catch it in the corner of your eye whilst trying to focus and your mind moves onto something else. Minimalists do this well, decluttering and preventing their mind from getting distracted, freeing up time to do what they want to do.
When people move beyond the minimalist aesthetic to thinking like a minimalist, you really start to see the levels at which people battle busyness to free up their time. Most start by automating basic tasks, eating the same breakfast every day, or wearing the same outfit; often referred to as a ‘work uniform’. It becomes about not only removing the physical clutter but the mental; not having to think about what to wear or eat in the morning saves valuable time and thinking ability and allows time to prioritise their time.
It’s this ability to prioritise and delegate that makes successful leaders.
If you wrote a list of all the things you needed to do and then tried to get things done, you’d find yourself doing the smallest and quickest tasks first, regardless of their deadline. Because you get to cross them off and think you are achieving things. But if you wrote that list and then numbered them by their priority you’d find yourself focusing on the ones that are more important to be completed first at the top of the list. Doing the big tasks first isn’t just about meeting those deadlines, its about reducing your stress levels and allowing you to relax and get other tasks done quicker. Ultimately freeing you up more time.
Still thinking there isn’t enough time in the day to get all these things done? Have you thought about delegating tasks to others? Often people have tasks on their to do list which could easily be completed by someone in their circle. Whether work related or personal. Consider if there are tasks on your lists that can be handed off to someone else, you don’t see CEOs and world leaders doing every task under their scope. You’ll find that delegating your workload effectively will lead to greater personal productivity and better efficiency.
Once you’ve delegated tasks that are on your lists, start thinking about how they got there. It comes down to your values and wants in life. You need to know what your values are so you can say no to the things that don’t align with your values. Think about why you are doing this task, how it is adding to your life or career plan. Your values make you passionate about things. Ultimately getting to your passion is how you get through the tasks that must be on the list but are a foundation to those passion plans.
“Being willing to put in the work and hours that match up with your values and getting to the other side of the mundane tasks–that’s where the real payoff is. Real passion lies on the other side of drudgery.”Joshua Fields Millburn
I found myself unsure whether items on my list were important, or if the things I avoided should be on the list or not. I started using words like “I want to go to the gym but I am too busy”. So why is my health a fitness not a priority, but checking Facebook multiple times a day or watching that extra YouTube video is? If I’d used the wording “getting fit isn’t a priority” I would make time to fit a workout in. I was giving myself an excuse, a get out clause. When in reality I was avoiding a task because I don’t enjoy going to the gym. Now, if I use the word busy in a sentence, I think about how that task fits in with my values, and if it should be a priority or not.
You’d be surprised how many things you avoid by saying you are too busy, if you swapped out scrolling through your Facebook feed for a gym work out , would you be healthier? And happier?
I am not saying that doing this will make you happier and free up more time in the short term. There is usually a lot of hard work to get yourself back on track but it comes down to long term gains and happiness. You will become more self aware of your priorities, your flaws and what you are passionate about. You’ll find yourself enjoying more of your tasks and getting them done quicker. Then think about what you can do with all that extra time… anything really.
How you can make the changes from busyness to getting things done:
- Stop glorifying being busy
- Track you time – be honest with yourself
- Evaluate your values
- Prioritise and delegate
- Build good habits to help you focus – declutter, simplify choices
- Say no to things that don’t suit your values
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