If you hear me say one thing over and over, it’s that I’m tired of people saying they’re “too busy.”
As I travel and meet with various people, it seems to be a common thread. My friends say it, my family, and clients too. It makes me wonder, “What the heck is everyone so busy doing?”
(click here or on the play button below to hear this post)
Do you feel the same way? Like no matter what you do, there is always 100 more things waiting for your attention? And that there always seem to be problems creeping in from everywhere? Always having to fix a problem? Well, the more I look around, the more I realize that it actually isn’t that people have more to do these days, it’s that we haven’t been able to manage our time and focus on the things that really matter. let me explain.
In about five different meetings this week, I felt absolute empathy for people because i could see the stress, worry, doubt, fear, and just plain tired looks on their faces from being totally overwhelmed. And I see it everywhere. People are just tired.
But when it comes down to it, we are all just running around with massive to-do lists trying to, well, do them!
And we have not thought through what it means to actually get things done. And problems keep getting thrown at us, people demand more of our time, family challenges arise, and changes are made. All of this uncertainty, change, and never-ending pile of stuff takes a toll on our ability to feel like we will ever be sane, right?
Where are we going wrong?
This year I have been immersed in some massive new projects and working with an amazing mentor. As I have mentioned, he is a world renowned expert in systems thinking and we have been exploring cause-effect relationships in every business we look at and identifying what is really going on. This translates to every part of life as well, and I have been reading a ton of books on systems, interdependencies, complexity, critical chain, and really anything that doesn’t just focus on the tactics.
That is what I want to stress to you today. This is where people go wrong. As a society, we are trained to find the “solution to the problem.” We look at what’s happened and try and fix it.
- Overweight? Diet.
- Missed a sales target? Reprimand sales rep.
- Anxious? Pills.
- Need more customers? Spend more on advertising?
- Stressed? Drink.
- Have to get more done? Work harder.
And the list goes on and on. We are constantly trying to fix problems as they come up. We don’t take the time to look at the root cause. And more importantly, most people play the victim and don’t take accountability to try and REALLY solve their problems.
When something goes wrong, you can do three things:
- Fix a problem
- Find out what caused the problem
- Prevent the problem from happening again
Ask yourself how often you take a look at your days and activities from that lens. Do you keep adding things to your to-do list and creating more stress? Or do you look at all of the cause-effect relationships in your activities and create a system?
The reason I ask, is that no matter how busy I am, I can always find time to enjoy the day, spend time with loved ones, golf, and have balance. Because I have a system. As part of my system, I know that health, balance, mental acuity, and sleep all play an important role. So everything goes in.
I also know that I can’t give freely of my time, all the time.
I urge you to claim back your calendar. Don’t let people take your time. You must GIVE it to them. Don’t let your phone command you, but instead, use it as a tool to help you.
To do lists are NOT projects
If you change one thing, it is your understanding of the “projects” you are working on. When I work with clients that tell me they are busy, I ask them first to show me the list of all the things they are working on. Often, they say, “It’s in my head.” So that’s mistake number one. Get it out of your head and on paper.
Once we have a list I ask, “Show me how you have scheduled all of these activities.” And that is usually when I get a blank stare. Most people only schedule appointments and then list their to-dos. WRONG. Schedule everything. Right down to the detail.
To get things done, you actually need to break down all of your so-called projects into tasks that need to be scheduled.
Have a look at my slideshare presentation on achieving goals:
This will definitely help you get unstuck with your lists. Take EVERYTHING you have to do and actually schedule it down to the activity.
Once you have scheduled everything into your calendar, take a look at the time you actually need. It will blow your mind. You are really NOT that busy.
When you take all of your activities and break them down to what needs to get done each day, you will see that you have just created a ton of time for yourself.
To free up more time, take an hour each week and analyze the problems you have faced. See what caused them. Ask yourself what you could have done to prevent them. And then take a look at your life and create a system so that those types of problems don’t happen in the future.
Take accountability for your stress and schedule. Make your life your own. Be one of the rare people who don’t say, “I’m so busy.” Help others create freedom too. Remember that stress is a positive signal for change.