“The greatest damage from being too busy is that it prevents people from setting their own temperature, controlling their own lives. It does other harm as well, like increasing toxic stress, making people sick, causing accidents and errors, turning otherwise polite people rude, and reducing the general level of happiness in the population. But the greatest damage it does is that it keeps a person from what’s most important.” – Excerpt from Crazy Busy, by Dr. Edward M. Hallowell.
No truer words may have been spoken in the last nine years since that book was published. We are all subject to this disease – stricken by the bright, shiny object that prevents us from accomplishing the important. Today’s most popular answer to the question “how’s it going?” is “I’m just so busy…”
Really? Busy doing what? And why are you never not busy?
There are only two conclusions at which to arrive:
- You’ve bought into the myth that being busy is a status symbol
- You’re totally incapable of saying “no”
In either situation, you’re the victim of your own doing. Victims may gain sympathy, but rarely produce results. How do I know? This used to be my life.
The devastation is exactly how Dr. Hallowell describes it – it keeps you from what’s most important. My clients wonder why they’re not accomplishing their quarterly Rocks, why their teammates are failing to complete their weekly ToDo’s. The first (and perhaps only) place to look is within their relationship to “busy.”
So what is there to do about it? Complaints are useless and sympathy is fleeting. I recommend training yourself in three very powerful habits of FOCUS:
- Clearly define what you want to accomplish within the next 90 days – specific, tangible, measurable results
- Use a Top Six Checklist daily – capture your top six most important tasks for the day, begin with #1 and don’t stop working on it until you complete it, then move to #2 (see Ivy Lee’s model)
- Say “no” to anything that does not have a direct impact (value) on reaching your 90 day objectives
These suggestions are simple, powerful, and confronting. Accomplishing the important isn’t for wimps – it’s for folks committed to being the best in the world they serve.
Ready, set, go say no.