Everyone, everywhere seems too busy and it seems that everyone also likes to talk about how busy they are. This problem of perpetual time-scarcity is affecting all levels of organizations from executives on down all over the globe. Time-scarcity has grown over recent years despite all the time-saving technology that has been engrained into our daily lives. Yet this “time-saving” technology has robbed us of more time rather than saving us time.
The technology isn’t the problem and neither is the clock. We’ve lived with 24 hours in a day since the clock was first invented (to synchronize work) in the 18th century. The problem is that each person chooses their priorities based on what is important (or easy) for them to do. This decision process can cause activities to build up and knowing that their “to-do” list is growing gives the perception that they are too busy.
If you suffer from the too busy phenomenon think about these things and how you can apply them.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is what I’m doing in this moment adding value to my family, my co-workers, my career or the business?
- If I don’t do this, will someone else have to wait to complete their activities (thereby causing them to be too busy)?
- How do I prioritize tasks?
- Do I have a list of the open tasks that require work?
- Do I identify urgent vs. important?
- Are my tasks ordered by estimated effort?
You must remain flexible and adaptable with your to-do list as interruptions will arise and you have to learn when to cut your losses and move on from a task that isn’t going to add value.
No when to say no and when to say yes. If what is being asked of you isn’t within your general area of responsibility and your time is already limited, you should probably say no to it. Take an inventory of everything you are working on, can it be delegated down or reassigned? Does everything you are working on link back to the overarching goals, strategies and objectives you are trying to achieve?
Procrastinating is a strong contributor in feeling too busy because you keep delaying doing things. If procrastinating is your problem work on your most difficult or least favorite thing first, then when you move to the other items they will be easier to start and complete. With this one you just have to force yourself to get started, it will get easier within 5 to 10 minutes of starting the task.
Become more efficient:
Look for ways to streamline what you do. There are always little changes that you can make that will result in a big impact. Reduce your multi-tasking (it slows you down more than speeds you up), write a to-do list and write a stop-doing list, shut off email notifications. These are a few small things that can be tweaked to free up your time.
Finding ways to plow through your to-do list will only give you small gains in time, it isn’t about doing the tasks faster. But, finding ways to weed out those activities that aren’t adding value or helping to achieve your goals is how you can recover some of your time. Use these questions to help you stop complaining about how busy you are, because you aren’t.