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How To Combat 'Busyness'

Do you know people who are always busy busy busy? So busy that their automatic response to a friendly wave or a quick call is, “I’m swamped!” Sounds exhausting. Unfortunately, it has become a cultural mandate to have our days packed to the max or else be labeled a slacker. The question is, with all we are busy doing, how much are we really getting done? 

People with the “busyness” bug, tend to measure their success by how many activities they perform instead of by the results they achieve. Results and results alone should be the yardstick against which people measure their achievements.

What about you? Are you spending long hours at the office without much to show for it? Are you cramming your supposed "free time" with endless tasks? Are your everyday To-Do lists always chockful of barely legible scratches? Are you doing tasks you aren’t even good at that someone else could do better? Here are some ways to go from being spinning your wheels to getting results.

1. Create Better To-Do Lists. You need two lists – one for today and one for “all else.” If it needs to get done – ever – it’s got to make the list. If you find yourself doing anything not on the list, STOP IT. Plus, fewer items (four instead of 12) to cross off each day will keep you focused and help you feel more accomplished.

2. Know what’s important and what’s not. Important: that report due at 10 a.m. Not important: the latest social media posts from people you barely even know. The key to moving from being ‘busy’ to being ‘successful’ is being able to discern the difference. Also not important? Responding to every email as they come in and gossiping with co-workers.

3. Do Not Deviate. Your To-Do’s should be listed in order with No. 1: important and urgent, through No. 4: unimportant and not urgent. Put your No. 1 in front of you and do not move, glance away, get distracted, or go to the bathroom until you’ve started on that task. Once started, completing the task becomes easier. Note: If you list something as priority No. 1, but don’t do it, and nothing bad happens, it wasn’t priority No. 1! 

4. Buy Time To Do What You’re Best At. Just because you feel like you should do everything yourself, doesn’t mean you like to, want to, or are the best one for the job. Use helpful new technologies or support people to do the things you aren’t good at, don’t like, or don’t want to do. When you lead with your passion, work is more enjoyable, and you’ll accomplish more.

It’s simple, really. Quit trying to ‘do it all’ and focus on doing ‘what matters. Successful activity – results-driven efforts vs. ‘busyness’ – is simply a combination of discernment of what to do and discipline doing it.

Top 4 Time Wasters

  1. Social Networks. You love them, but do you really need to know what Suzy wore to her high school reunion while you’re at work? 
  2. Emails. We are inundated with countless emails all day long. Answer the most important ones quickly or have a set time that you check and respond to emails.
  3. Distractions. A co-worker stopping by your desk to talk about how his weekend went while you’re in the middle of writing a report that’s due is a distraction. Learn how to avoid distractions and keep focused. 
  4. Texting and Instant Messaging. Let’s face it, most of the time when you’re texting and using an instant message program, it’s typically not for work. Save it for your own time. 

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