Whew, I just got home yesterday from a week a speaking at a conference and boy am I in a better place! I have my priorities on much straighter and a feeling for how I can help my peeps achieve this zen state too!
What Does Being TOO Busy Mean
Okay, here is my definition of busy. When you have over scheduled yourself. That is it. No fancy ratios of time or looking at what your commitments are…if you feel too busy you have simply said yes to too many things. While on my trip I listened to the book, Essentialism, by Greg McKeown which was a great wakeup call. In it he talks about having multiple priorities and the fact that this is not possible. Instead we should have one priority for different areas of our lives and focus on those.
I, on the other hand, love to fill my time up with things that I find interesting. It is fun to see what people are doing on the internet and to read about marketing 24/7. But I didn’t do that on my trip. Instead I focused on a personal priority of getting more “doing art” back in my life. I watched art videos and very likely will have to go back and organize my art supplies so I can find some of them to use in making art. (right now they are pushed to the back-back of the under my desk, almost as if I am deliberately making sure they are inaccessible!)
It is funny, when I speak I always ask the class at some point if they are “too busy” and almost everyone raises their hand. It is hard to be calm and still in the face of everyone around us being overstimulated and frantic, but it is definitely my goal to get to the “not too busy” stage.
How To Make Yourself Unbusy
Reading this first part you might think that I was just all off the rails busy before this, but I wasn’t. Years ago I started religiously scheduling my time and I think that I am on the “less busy” end of the scale anyways. I religiously only meet with paying clients or friends (there are no “pick your brains” or “meeting for coffees” which trip a lot of people up). I make time for my kids and my family. I meet with mastermind groups and marketing friends frequently.
I even started making time for my health, joining a gym and exercising three times a week. But I had definitely neglected making and creating art and beautiful spaces around me.
What do you “wish” you had time for?
Fishing, knitting, reading, hiking? Whatever it is, no one is going to step in and make sure you schedule it for yourself. YOU are going to have to step up and make it happen.
Social Media. Since I had limited time and internet on my trip, I found that I was not obsessively checking my social media channels. That has lead me to conclude that I don’t need it in my life except in very specific ways! I will go in and check on weekdays in the morning and maybe at the end of the work day, but no more. It is not seeing what my friends and family are up to that takes up time, it is the cute kitty video and outrage over politics or a bad marketing tactic that suck a little of my day away. Each minute that I have not scheduled to be doing social media but am is taking away from something else.
Email. I have already gotten my email mostly under control. I have sorted out my messages so I only get client emails, emails from friends and newsletters from people I REALLY want to hear from. Years ago when I was “really busy” I would have come back to thousands of meaningless messages but today I have just 94 to go through and prioritize. There are hundreds of email management tools out there and while it does take time to set them up, once you have a grip on your email, your life will be immeasurably changed.
TV. I already don’t watch TV except very rarely with my kids. When I did spend a half hour on the trip watching an infomercial for a funny countertop over, I immediately thought, “that is a half hour of my life I will never get back”. If you have a handful of TV shows you like to watch…DO IT! If you are like my friends the Self Publishing Podcast guys and TV watching is actually work research…DO IT! But if you are just “killing time” with a TV show, then stop it now. Plan for something you really want to do, exercise for that half hour, play with your dog, organize a room in your house but don’t waste your time on TV.
OPS. This one is “other people’s stuff”. I tried to write this part with examples but they all sounded to mean and trivial. What I mean by OPS is when someone else’s drama is taking up your time. This is a huge time suck and again, time you will never be able to get back to do something you want to do.
What Is Important
Now that we have looked at some time wasters, let’s look at what you think is important. For me it is watching YouTube videos about how to use spray paint to make journal pages (YES! really!) I know that is probably not your cup of tea, but for me, that is something that feeds my soul instead of draining my energy.
Work. That old 80/20 rule applies to most of your work. There are probably many things that you think you “have” to do with your work that could be eliminated or at least corralled with time. For example, I have client work that I have to do and mostly I schedule it for Mondays, but there are times (like now) that I have to allocate more of my time to it because I have been away. OF COURSE my clients would like to have all of their work done as fast as possible, but that is not really practical. Instead I need to schedule a little bit of time for each of them and keep all of their projects moving forward.
Turning Down Work. This one is really hard! While on my trip I had a gal contact me who wanted to hire me, but she needed things done REALLY quickly. She wanted answers to deadlines and guarantees of deliverable dates. She did say that she had LOTS of other clients she could refer me to and that there would be even more opportunity available. While my little heart skipped a beat at the “lots” of other work, my realistic brain kicked in and said, if she is like this now, it is only going to get worse. Generally we can see a bad client or customer coming a mile away, make sure you very careful not to let a bad seed into your work!
Health. If you are sick you can’t work or play. Making time and space for your health is a vital thing you have to do as a human. Now, I am not saying you should run Ironman races like my friend Kir, but make sure you have time in your week to move a little bit, eat a little better and generally mind your health!
Fun. Ohhh this my worst one. My Puritan work ethic kicks in and I am terribly hard on myself about “wasting time” and “having fun”. But I am going to get better. No one ever got to the end of their life and thought, “I am so glad I did that proposal well”… mostly they think about the fun things they have done, the time they have spent with family and friends or doing something that they like to do. Please stop now and write down a list of 50 things you think are fun to do. Now, don’t just leave that in a notebook, start doing some of them!! Schedule the time, block out time, play hokey, just do it!
How To Fix Busy
There is only one way to fix “too busy”. Do less.
That was super easy, and maybe for some of us, the hardest thing in our lives to fix. We want to make sure our kids have a chance to participate in sports and Girl Scouts and play dates. We want to spend time with our aging parents and have work, work, work piled up around us day and night.
But if you want to feel “less busy” you will have to get rid of some things in your life. We cannot do everything all of the time. There are only so many hours in a day and we need to guard our time to be able to do what we WANT to do.
Here are some categories that you might want to set as “important” things with your time:
- Customer Service
- Product Development
- Eat healthy
- Go vegan
- Exercise 3X per week
- Stand up more
- Do more art
- Spend time with your kids
- Walk your dog (counts for health too!)
- Learn a new skill
Whatever YOU choose to do with your time is what you should be doing! It is amazing to me how many people think they know what is the best use of your time or are quick to let you know that that isn’t what they would be doing. None-the-less, you are the only one living your life so make sure you are spending your time doing what YOU like to do!
Have you ever thought, “there is NO way I can ever get everything done!” Or felt like you are constantly behind the eight ball work-wise?
There is probably a reason for that! Most small business owners and entrepreneurs are trying to cram 20 hours of work into an 8 hour day and failing miserably!
>> Get help! Color Coding Your Perfect Week Worksheet