The danger of always being too busy

| November 1, 2018

Leaders have a lot to manage with the increasing pace of change and not having enough hours in the day is one of the biggest challenges they’re faced with.

How do you make the time to overcome being too busy? Are you always running late from meeting to meeting with no time to catch your breath? How often has a loved one or close friend looked at you in frustration because you were checking your mobile phone–again?

With the constant barrage of digital information and numerous tasks hitting us 24/7 it is easy to get caught up in the danger of being too busy, however leaders can take a few steps to stay in front.

Here are three dangers directors and leaders need to be aware of and 3 hacks you can take before it is too late.

Danger #1 No time to Think

One of the challenges for a leader being too busy is that you don’t have the time to think strategically.  This results in you often missing opportunities to identify shortcuts that will allow you to get more things done in less time.

Think of a time when you were driving somewhere and an accident had backed traffic up.  If you would have taken 2 minutes to find another route, you could have bypassed it and saved you time – especially in rush hour traffic!.

At work we get into the unconscious habit of just randomly doing tasks to fill our day–however many of these tasks are not important they are just time fillers.  This results in a large loss of productive time that could have been spent on more important tasks or allowing time for family rather than working until 7 or 8pm.

Hack: Identify the Activities Your Should NOT be doing

We often get into a habit of doing activities that are time fillers. They don’t add any value and often are not important. Start tracking when you get into this habit and stop doing the things that don’t matter

Danger #2 No time to Recharge

When leaders are busy all the time they start to loose their spark of enthusiasm.  This is a worrying trend backed up by research by the Australian Future Leaders Index that shows many of us are feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do.  This also starts to impact us physically and psychologically when we reach a breaking point with the tasks piling up and the stress reaching ceiling level.

This gets amplified at home with a common family complaint that you are too busy and that you are always tired and don’t want to do the things that you normally would—not a good sign!

Hack: Take Time to Recharge

This can be something as simple as taking a 15 minute walk outside in the fresh air to clear your head. By moving around you can shift your energy and help to recharge and refocus. In addition take time to diarise when you will take a day off or go on family holiday to recharge—don’t wait until you have already burnt out!

Danger #3 No Time to Connect

One of the challenges of being too busy is that you forget to take the time to connect to the people around you.  If you are constantly busy, when you interact with staff are you taking the time to listen and engage them–or do you fall into the pattern of just telling them what to do because it is quicker?

Being busy all the time can also take it’s toll on your home life.  When you are over committed, you start to prioritise work activity over family. You start working longer and longer hours and after a while your partner and kids start mentioning this and often will want to spend quality time with you.  When you are “too busy” that means you can start sacrificing what is important in the long term for immediate need of being busy.

Hack: Be Present

Take the time to really connect with your people. Ask and show genuine interest in them as people—not just staff. Also make sure that you do the same at home. Turn your mobile phone off or put it onto the counter to keep you from constantly glancing to check your email. Your family will thank you!

 

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Scott Stein

Scott Stein is a leadership pathfinder and author of Leadership Hacks: Clever shortcuts to boost your impact and results (Wiley). For more information visit www.scottstein.com or contact support@scottstein.com.