The End of Busy

Stop using “busy” as a badge of honour! You might think you’re Superman, Supermum, The World’s Greatest Consultant, or whatever else – but nobody else cares. You might be proudly displaying your Busyness Badge, but other people pity you for it.

Sure, there was a time when the more hours you worked, the more value you produced, but that was in the day of the assembly line.

And yes, there was a time when multi-tasking was considered a valuable skill, but the science clearly shows now that it’s a huge drain on productivity.

In the Ideas Age, the value you create is not proportional to the number of hours you work.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard!

In fact, in our chaotic, attention-deficit, distraction-filled world, the skills of application, discipline, focus and commitment are more important now than ever before. But where does it say you have to be busy to do any of those things?

I’m also not saying you have to cruise through life all the time. Of course, there will be times when you choose bursts of high activity, but you do it because you’re focussed on achieving something important in the short term. That’s normal, and we can all go through these bursts – but it becomes unhealthy when “I’m busy” becomes your default reply to “How are you?”

Make your own rules.

The secret to the End of Busy is to create your own rules about priorities, activity, and interruptions. The world has become more distracting, and many people don’t realise it. So they are just reactive. Their in-box is full, Facebook is blinking on their phone every few minutes, and they send back-and-forth texts every hour. So they say they’re busy.

And they are! But it’s not a good thing. They just haven’t figured out their rules to get important things done.

I talked about this with journalist Andrea Burns in an article in The West Australian a few years ago (but it’s still relevant now): Escaping the busyness trap.

In that article, Andrea also talks about outsourcing services that help reduce our busyness. They can be a big help, but make sure you fill up the time you save with important things – not just more busyness!

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