Do You Have Busy Disease?

By Moira Dunne

Busy, busy, busy. Everyone is busy.  What do you say when someone asks you how you are?  Often our answer is “Busy”! Years ago we used to say how we were, how we were feeling, what we were doing. Now we just say “busy”. A lot of people have “busy disease”. Do you?

Even if we are not busy, we feel like we should be busy. We sometimes make ourselves busy even when there is no need! What is going on, why do so many people have this busy disease?

Instant Communication

The main reason is that communication is now so instant. We get constant updates on projects, client requests, etc.  If  we read an email we usually feel compelled to reply. If we don’t stay in touch, the work can build up and that causes us to feel stressed.

The fact we can read our email on our smartphones is fantastic. But this means we are always on too. There is no downtime.

No Time to Think

We are losing the ability to sit and do nothing. Why is that? Because the information flow is addictive. It is designed to be that way. How hard is it to resist reading an unread message?  It happens to us all. But the result is that our brains never have time to relax or to switch off.

Other People’s Requests

Also if we constantly respond to new requests it is hard to get our own work done too. So we can feel busy but not really productive. To get your own work done you need a plan. But to make a plan you need time to think. And everyone is too busy to think!

So let’s look at some changes you can make to cure busy disease.

Tip 1 – Have Clear Priorities

There will always be too many things to do. We may not realise it but we constantly make decisions about what to do next. It sometimes doesn’t feel like our choice because there may be pressure from others.

To make the right decision for you, be clear about your priorities. Ask yourself:

  1. What am I expected to deliver?
  2. What will I be judged on?
  3. What are the most important tasks for my role?

Your answers need to align with what you spend your time doing.

Tip 2 – Make a Plan

Now you can make a good plan to manage your time and be productive. Because if you don’t plan your time, someone else will! Look at your week and decide when you can work on your priorities. A lot of your week will already be filled up with meetings or calls. But look at the unplanned time – this is your opportunity to manage time and be productive.

New things will crop up and your plan will need to change. But as soon as the new things get sorted, you can revert to your plan. A plan gives you a greater chance of achieving your priority tasks.

Tip 3 – Protect Your Time

Your time is precious so make sure you don’t give it away easily. The next time you reach for your phone to check your email ask yourself “what’s the best use of my time in this next 30 minutes?”

Focus on where your time goes. Spot the things or the people that distract you. Try to put mechanisms in place to avoid or reduce these distractions. If colleagues often desk drop try explaining that you are in the middle of something but you will come back to them in 30 minutes. Respond by saying “when” you can help them rather than automatically saying “now”.

Be Productive in 2019

So this year kill busy disease by being productive. Take back control of your time so you get the important things done. But be flexible so you can still help others too.

I hope these tips help you kill busy disease and make 2019 your most productive year ever!