Being busy is a good and fortunate thing for businesses and professionals but this question has been raised pretty frequently around my circles this week so I thought I would dedicate this weeks blog to it to review it further. So, are really time-starved or are we just on a diet of our own choices? As the calendar flicked over to May, 2015 I couldn’t believe that we were almost half way through 2015 already. While we are not necessarily working more hours than our predecessors did, why are we feeling so overwhelmed?
Below are a few things that I believe are contributing.
As a caveat here – I am not saying the below areas are bad things (just pointing them out as contributing factors).
1. Distractions. We are more connected than ever. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Email and many more areas, we have ongoing streams of stimulations of thousands of headlines, advertising, connected links and other areas of interest popping up on our screens and phones. As we build social media into our daily routines (particularly around any traditional down times like breaks, watching television, waiting for an appointment, before bed and even going to the bathroom), we are remaining stimulated for longer periods of time.
2. The “joy” of work. The joy of work mixed with the joy of winning mixed with the opportunity to earn more money is difficult to say no to. Earning more doing work you know how to do is highly rewarding and a big driver. A permanent sense of busy-ness can be the psychological price you agree to pay for taking on more and more work.
3. The irony of abundance and choice. As most civilised countries are in the age of abundance, it is so much easier to get everything we need, like food, clothes, and entertainment. There are so many ways to access things, events to go to, important books to read and advice/opinions around on how to do things better. Knowing exactly what we’re missing out on can make us feel guilty or anxious about the limits of our time and our capacity to use it effectively.
4. Work yields more work as Admin creates more admin. – The saying if you want something done, give it to a busy person feeds this concept. The funny thing about work is, the more you do, the more it yields. And the faster, more effective we are, the more work we find ourselves doing. This can also be the same for the more organised we get, with increased structures/ programs/ reporting and tools available, the more administration this creates to be done.
5. Keeping Up With The Jones’. – Social media regularly puts in front of us what other people are doing ie snapshots of sometimes fantastic ventures/stories and experiences making us sometimes wonder what on earth are we doing with our time and how do they fit it all in? What is not seen however is the entire picture. On top of that, in line with looking at continuous improvements for our businesses and ourselves, we are constantly reviewing our performance against others in relation to business tools, processes, advertising and so on.
6. Doing it all. Generally, we do not like to say no to things/people or feel like we are missing out and therefore our routines, events and things we do in a day seem to be increasing. Asking for help or not ‘fitting it all in’ can feel like failing and therefore often, this just means more things to do.
7. Helping others out. I think this is a wonderful thing that generally most of us like to do whether it is another employee, colleague, mentee, friends, family and/or a charity. Helping others makes us feel better about ourselves and hopefully support someone else however sometimes we need to limit or program when we do this more effectively to ensure this doesn’t become a distraction.
While I don’t see most of us slowing down (or wanting to), what are some strategies to help us disconnect, feel in control and feel less overwhelmed?
1. Have clear annual goals that you review regularly (at least quarterly) to give you clarity on what your focus areas are. 1 goal to focus on at one time can be particularly beneficial in our already very cluttered world of objectives.
2. Learn to say NO. As we seem to be trained to say YES and figure out how to do it all later, sometimes we need to learn how to say NO, particularly to areas not directly related to item 1, your goals.
3. Put dedicated time blocks to get things done.
4. Agree to embrace 1 healthy habit that can change your life for the better.
5. Book in at least 1 free day a quarter doing something different to your daily routines with people who make you laugh.
6. Do at least one activity per week which requires high energy.
7. Recognise in yourself the strengths you see in other people.
8. Make a conscious decision to let go of someone or something you do that doesn’t serve or support you.
9. Purposefully reflect and write down every quarter on everything you’ve learned (positive and/or constructive).
10. Switch off from social media at least 30 minutes prior to bed.
11. Be present in the moments you are in.
What do you feel overwhelmed by and how do you address it?