“I am not looking forward to September – I am busier than ever!”
Those were the words I received from a client in a text (shared with permission). I started to ponder that he probably is not alone in that. I am guessing you probably feel 'busier' than ever.
Dealing with an overwhelming, never-ending list of responsibilities was made even more complicated by the Pandemic of 2020-2021.
So what do we do? Well it’s hard to solve a problem you don’t understand.
Naming a problem is the first step toward fixing it.
So, here’s the question: Why do you feel so busy? I want to share the 4 reasons that I mentioned on Episode 32 of our Podcast "You Can Make it So", on why maybe you do and I am happy to expand upon them in this post.
Your Office is in your Pocket
The working from home shift disrupted the boundaries between work and life in a profound way. But long before the pandemic, your home and pocket were increasingly becoming your office anyway. You used to go to the office, but thanks to technology, the office goes to you. Between your laptop, tablet, and phone, work follows you everywhere. So, your work is never really done.
Add to that the fact that you can now do your work anywhere, well that is not a formula for balance. The ability to work from anywhere anytime leaves many people feeling like they’re never really on and never really off. No wonder you feel like you’re never done, because you aren’t.
So here are some tools I have used :
1. Put self-care on the schedule
Self-care is vitally important. It's still hard for me to relax when I "walk away" from the office, so I set things into my schedule that demand my full attention, so I can't get distracted. A dinner with family, working on a 'hands on project', or a "serious hike" all make me leave work behind. I am still working toward enjoying unstructured time - right now it makes me very uncomfortable to have nothing on the schedule - but my hope is that by getting more comfortable with it, I can get more comfortable with actual leisure.
2. Learn to unplug
A big part of learning how to be engaged in the world outside of my work has been to commit to other activities and to hold myself accountable, so I'm spending time unplugged - my phone is not allowed to come with me on a hike, a dinner, or any other activity.
During that time, I just can't work. My goal is to eventually be in a place where I don't actually need to schedule that time and to learn how to push work completely out of my mind when there's nothing I can do about it.
3. Learn to change the way you talk to yourself
The biggest struggle I have is feeling guilty whenever I take time for myself. I have a hard time focusing on activities that are important to non-work-related parts of my life. My first goal was to get a coach to help with it. We discussed where this feeling came from, and how to change , "You're being lazy and wasting time." into "No one can work 24 hours a day. You are not being lazy by letting your mind rest." One of the most important things to remember is that taking real breaks actually helps me be more productive when I am working.
Messages Are At An All-Time High
Last month, I counted up my inboxes. I have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, two email accounts, text messages, Whats Up chats – all of these are channels people can use to message me. This means that whenever I look at my phone, someone is messaging me.
The thing about technology is that messages are always sent at the convenience of the sender, not at the convenience of the recipient, which deepens the sense of overwhelm you have because there’s rarely a time when someone isn’t trying to get your attention or ask you about something.
It also meant deciding if I will respond right way or not. Obviously, for a few people, I do respond right away.
Here’s my rule: The depth of the relationship should determine the speed of your response. What does that mean? It means my family, team, and perhaps very closest friends get a near-immediate response. Others get a response later when I am finished downtime.
Too Much Task-Switching
Constantly checking email, switching between the project you’re working on, and pausing to answer texts and take phone calls distracts you to the point where you can’t really focus enough to accomplish deep work.
I know on days when I’m juggling between many things, I can often put in eight or ten hours and feel like I’ve accomplished nothing at all.
The antidote to constant task-switching is to create deep periods of uninterrupted focus in your work.
Your brain needs to focus to produce quality work and, ultimately, a good quantity of work over time.
A concept I teach is called “Appointments with Self”… that is when you turn a moment in your calendar into an “Appointment” with a task or project and just like when you are in other appointments you do not check your phone or email – you focus. Long have I taught, and lived by a principle, and one I sincerely try and make it happen in my daily life – ONE PERSON, ONE PROBLEM, ONE PROMISE…. That is how I strive to #makeitso
Busyness Is a Choice
This is a hard one for me, but the truth is that busyness is a choice.
Over the years I have tried to remove the word from my vocabulary and instead insert “productive”…. I try and make that my focus instead. I do not look at tasks as “burdens to get done” but opportunities to move the needle forward to live in a way today that will help me to thrive tomorrow.
You’re as busy as you want to be. No more, no less.
Most days, this is hard to remember. The vortex of busyness draws you in deeply and regularly.
The chaos I feel is, for the most part, internally generated. It is the pressure I put on myself. The same would be true for you. Without a new strategy and approach, it's easy to continue to:
Overcommit and underdeliver
Have no time for what you actually want to do
Struggle to get time off to refuel and relax
Worst of all, other people—other tasks, jobs, and projects—will continue to hijack your life and that of those you love.
It’s time to change that by implementing a strategy that works.
This Fall, I am dedicating our Mancave – which is our Group Coaching – to sharing a proven strategy to get your time, energy, and priorities working in your favor.
If you are not familiar with Mancave – check out details – but I want to invite you to join me on September 28, 2022 for a free live preview of Mancave and what this Fall will be all about – check out the details
It's a step-by-step series with tools, tips, and lessons that help you break the stress spiral and turn Busy into Productive so you can —grow your organizations, advance your careers, launch new ventures, be far more present at home, and take regular time off.
Whatever you choose to do with it is up to you. But I encourage you to sign up for the access on September 28, 2022 and consider joining Mancave for instant access.
And to encourage you – for those who participate in Mancave this Fall – a copy of my new book - Made for Monday - is yours as a bonous. SIGN UP for the September 28, 2022 Free preview of Mancave.
Let's get after it - #makeitso