There’s a new epidemic in work and society in general: The “busy bug.”
As a leader, how often do you ask people “How are you?” And how often do you hear “I am so busy!” in
Why are we so busy? Is it really necessary? All too often, work and life can feel like we are on a hamster wheel: It spins around as we run, run, run. But we can choose to get off that wheel and look at things from a distance. We need to allow ourselves time and space to ask where we’re going, where we’ve been and why we’re so busy. After all, we’re human beings, not human doings. Being busy is not a badge of honor. Unless we’re doing right, relevant things that really make a difference, perhaps we shouldn’t be doing them at all. Symptoms of a busy bug include:
1. Personal pressures from finding time with family and balancing work/home life
2. work pressures from thinking about the next job, the next promotion, the next meeting we must attend or something else we feel we can’t miss.
There are demands on our time from every angle. It’s as if being busy is the state we’re expected to be in because if we’re not frantically busy, it may look like we’re slacking. And yet, it can feel like we’re missing out when we are in busy-bug mode.
• Choose what’s important. You are in control of your crazy schedule. You don’t have to do everything. Make choices that have meaning. Think about doing less to achieve more. Choose carefully.
• Take time to reflect. Even if it’s for a walk or only a deep breath, take a moment to put things into perspective. Consider adding a time slot for reflection to your calendar. Reflection helps create insight, better decision-making and better results.
• Being always “on” can result in missed opportunities to celebrate success, big and small. Take a few
moments at the end of each day to think about what you’ve achieved and how to take those positives with you into the next day and the future. When you get busy, break the tasks into steps, completing one step at a time. This puts you in control.
• Say no when necessary — but communicate it in a way that builds understanding and acceptance.
If you constantly say to yourself and others that you’re busy, guess what? That’s what you’ll be.
So, the next time someone says, “I am really busy,” what will your response be? And the next time someone asks you how you are, what will you say?
Mandy Flint is CEO of Excellence In Leadership in the United Kingdom (U.K.).
Elisabet Vinberg Hearn is co-founder of Think Solutions in the U.K. and Sweden.
- Both are cultural and leadership behavioral change strategists and have
authored several award-winning books, including The Leader’s Guide to
Impact, published by Financial Times Publishing