An old friend crossed my mind the other day. Once in a blue moon we check in with each other, so I dropped her an email. She replied telling me why she hadn’t been in touch, then said, “Well, I wish I had time to get together for lunch, but I’m a hamster on a wheel this week, and next. Some day.”
Some day. Riiiiiight.
We’d been going back and forth for over a year. I scrolled down to our previous brief exchange, three months earlier. Her last sentence said: “Wish I could chat more, but I’m just slammed right now.” Four months before that she said she was “completely over my head at the moment. Busy busy busy.”
I made a mental note to sit this girl down with a bottle of red and five words of advice: STOP BEING SO DARN BUSY.
Oh, I knew what she would say. Wouldn’t that be nice. If only I could. Fat chance. But the fact is, there’s a big difference between having a full workload and being SO DARN BUSY. The first one is a fact of life. The second is a mindset—and not a good one.
Close your eyes for a minute and picture meeting a friend on the street or a colleague in the hall. Your friend or colleague asks how it’s going. If you feel words like “swamped” or “overwhelmed” or “slammed” or “hectic” rising in your throat, STOP. Don’t buy into the self-destructive mindset of busyness. Find a way to sit calmly and happily before the full plate that life, thankfully, has a way of dishing up.
1. Stop talking about being overwhelmed. It only creates more overwhelm. You must DECIDE to be in the flow and welcome the challenge with a “bring-it-on” attitude. The first step in that journey is hearing the Henny Penny squawk in your head and squelching it before it can dictate your attitude.
2. Take an evening or Saturday completely off. Don’t touch work or think about it. No email, no voicemail, no “just checking” on a project.
3. When back at it, make a list of the 5 key initiatives and the 5 key results for your job.
4. Make sure you have an iron-clad, step-by-step plan to hit all targets to make those initiatives and results happen.
5. Bring a plan to your boss outlining how you will make those happen and ask to be released from the busy work not attached those.
6. Have your weekly plan in front of you at all times, listing the activities to make sure you hit all your weekly results and numbers. Be massively accountable for RESULTS—not activities!
7. Drop several of the key activities for the week into each day. Complete one before moving on to the next.
8. Smile and DECIDE to enjoy it. It’s a choice between victimhood and living powerfully. YOU get to decide!
There’s a world of difference between working hard and “being busy.” The hamster on the wheel is awfully busy. But it’s only when we step off the wheel that we can see the absurdity of it and actually get something done, engaging life joyfully and bringing ourselves fully to our work.
Once you step off, you’ll NEVER go back.