Saturday, November 14, 2009

Being busy is just an excuse

Now, I know that I’m not going to be very popular in what I’m about to say here but I truly believe it to be the case. There is a HUGE difference between being busy and being productive.

Lately, I’ve come across so many people claiming to be ‘busy’ and blaming this for having failed to get something important done. It is becoming that common now it is really starting to annoy me. Why? Because it is a total cop out I believe. The bottom line for most of these people is that ‘being busy’ is simply an excuse for not setting correct priorities. ‘Busy’ is typically a state in which people believe they need to be to achieve something, but in reality they are simply in motion without moving. They are merely creating action for action’s sake in the belief that they are being productive.

It’s human nature that there are things we like to do and things we don’t. Being productive usually means doing stuff that you don’t like doing AS WELL AS as stuff you do. Most however, fill their time with stuff they like doing but which is generally of such a low priority that they shouldn’t be doing it at all. In a word, they procrastinate. Procrastination doesn’t meaning sitting around twiddling your thumbs, it means failing to do what NEEDS TO BE DONE and you can just as easily achieve this by being ‘busy’. The issue for such people is that they do not value time appropriately. Just because you have eight hours a day ‘at work’ does that mean you have to spend that total time ‘working’? Definitely not! If I can get the same amount of productive work done in six hours, or four hours or even two hours why do I need to fill the remaining time with useless unproductive tasks? Because that’s what everyone else is doing I hear you say and therein lies the problem.

Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t make it right does it? Being productive is about what works for YOU not what everyone else SAYS works for you! We all have exactly the same amount of time allocated to us each and everyday, yet why do the vast majority of people always seem to be ‘busy’? Stressed? Tired? Unable to do what they need to get done? Simply because they have failed to prioritize their time correctly. Maybe they’d prefer to re-read their emails than actually starting on that report or maybe they’d prefer to surf the web just a bit longer rather than actually resolving an urgent problem. Sound familiar? It should be, because this how most people operate.

Another painful truth I’ve come to understand is that YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING! Thus, you need to prioritize. I’ll pretty much bet that if you prioritize correctly you’ll find you’ve been doing stuff that you don’t need to do at all. There is going to stuff you like doing, but to get the more important things done you are going to have to stop doing stuff, period. If it produces a low return on your time investment its gotta go. Do you leave your money under your mattress earning no interest? Unlikely. Most people put it somewhere where it will earn the maximum return. That is called INVESTMENT. Now tell me, what is more valuable? Your time or your money? Hmmmm… you can never get more time but you can always get more money, so I’d have to say time. Wouldn’t you? So why the hell do most people do their best to not only waste their own time on low priority tasks but also allow other people to also waste their time? Unfortunately, it is generally the worst offenders who can’t even see this fact.

If you are finding that you’re constantly ‘busy’, if you find that you are constantly letting things slip because you are ‘busy’, I’d say you need to take a long hard look at your priorities. It is probably going to involve some pain but the payoff to your health and well-being is well worth it in the end. If you think I’m joshing, stop and take a look at those around you always seem to be ‘busy’. Are they actually getting stuff done? Are they simply creating motion for motions sake? Are they using the excuse of being ‘busy’ to prevent you from giving them something that actually NEEDS to be done?

So you’ve been warned. Don’t keep coming to me saying that you’re ‘busy’ because if this keeps happening I’m going to leave you being ‘busy’ and find someone who can make time for what I need and I am unlikely to return. The inability to prioritize your own time automatically tells me you are unlikely to value my time as important. Sorry, but MY TIME is important so I ain’t going to let you waste it.