Look around you and watch all of the busy bees around you. Are you sat in a hive of activity, with a real buzz around the place. This sounds like a great place to bee (excuse the pun), high energy, lots of action, motion and things moving forward.
Stop! now let’s really look at what is going on. Energy? Yes, Action? Yes, Motion? Yes, we are doing well so far… Things moving forward? mmmm, not so sure.
You see we all have the propensity to be busy fools. We can focus our time and energy on the tasks we like doing, but maybe of low value.
How to identify a busy fool.
Most of us juggle work, homes, kids, hobbies and friends. We are all busy. When you look through the tell-tale signs of a busy fool, one person will instantly spring to mind. We all know one, probably a few, but how often to you play the fool. A busy fool will do most, if not all of these..
Work long hours and can’t turn their phone off
Attends every meeting or conference call they have been invited to
Doesn’t have time to get a drink or visit the little girls/boys room
Never ending to do list
Instantly responds to emails and picks up calls straight away
Picks up tasks and actions, and completes them quickly
Doesn’t have time for lunch
Seems to be the busy person in the world, or at least tells everyone but can’t actually tell you what they are busy doing
We do it with our leisure time too. We are busy running around, trying to cram in as much as we possibly can, work, play, gym, kids activities, a party, oh don’t forget to see your Mum/best friend, walk the dog…. I am exhausted just thinking about it. Are we really using our time effectively?
There are some really simple techniques that you can apply to your work and home life that can help you banish the busy fool and get some balance back in your life.
Here are my top 5 tips to Banish the busy fool and get some balance
Measure results not work. So you have completed your to do list, but really, how important was the stuff on that list anyway, and how long did it take you. You need to look at what is the important task or action, what will be the cost of doing it, and what the cost of not doing it? Not just financial costs, I mean time, emotional, physical, or prioritising it over a different task. Define it, what is the result of completing task x over task Y. So when you are planning your day, week or even the rest of your life, focus on the priorities, what is most important, and will give you the biggest result (whatever the measure) and do those first. The other stuff, can wait, maybe forever!
Play to your strengths. Now this is a really easy one, if you can learn to let go. This is all about delegation and outsourcing. Ok, you know what you are good at and what you aren’t. Ditch the stuff that you aren’t good at and delegate it to someone who finds it easy, and can get it done in half the time. I am a real technophobe. If something breaks, the thought of trying to sort it out myself fills me with dread. Now it’s not that I can’t do it, it is simply that I don’t understand technical jargon, nor do I want to. When I moved house I couldn’t get my tv to pick up any signal. Now I could have spent all day trawling the help pages on the internet, then going to the DIY store and trying to fix the problem, or I could call an Ariel man can get it fixed in 30 minutes. If you can’t delegate, outsource.
Learn to say no. Before you take on some other task, responsibility or offer to help, think about whether it falls into 1 or 2. If it doesn’t, give yourself permission to say no, even if that is too yourself. As a people pleaser you may find this really difficult, but do you really want to say yes to something that is not going to add any value to you. I used to fall into this category all of the time. I would take things on, over commit, and then have a to do list as long as my arm. As soon as I started saying no, I noticed my list became smaller, my work became more focused and I delivered on time. This pleased more people ultimately, and it pleased me too. So learn to say no.
Prioritize: Ok, whether we like it or not there will always be some tasks that need to get done, but we keep putting them off. They get bumped onto tomorrows list, and we procrastinate. In fact we procrastinate by being a busy fool. We look for excuses why we don’t have time to clear out that in box, or fill out that form. Instead we accept every meeting going, or answer those meaningless emails immediately. So take a look at your to do this and prioritize. Look at what is urgent and important. Do those first. If it is not urgent or important to you, then can you ditch it, delegate it or just say no, and don’t forget to prioritize you time. Recharge your batteries, take a rest, reflect. It was help you focus.
Celebrate the end. When you have completed a task, project or priority, find a way to mark the event. It maybe putting your feet up for 5 minutes and enjoy a nice cup of coffee, taking the afternoon off or going on a holiday (celebrate proportional to the task!). It is a way of mentally and emotionally marking the start, middle and end, before moving on to the next task. Then when someone asks you what have you done today, you can actually tell them.