We wear busyness like a badge of honor: “How are you doing?” “Oh, I’m busy.” But why is “busy” a label you would want? Busy just means occupied. Doing stuff. Some of it purposeful. Some of it not. Some of it necessary. Some of it simply out of habit.
If you find yourself regularly telling people how busy you are, I’d like to suggest you set a new goal: Being able to say instead, “I’m productive.” When you’re busy, you’re less likely to plan your day or your week. Without a clear picture of what’s most important, you take on new tasks without considering whether you even have time to complete them. You are also less likely to delegate. Why? Because delegation takes time to think: “Do I really have to do this myself? Who could do it instead? When can I ask them? How long will it take to explain? Oh never mind, I’ll do it myself.” It doesn’t save you time in the long run, but when you’re already stressed and hurried, doing it yourself is an easy answer.
This week, I invite you to consider that hurrying up is actually slowing you down. If you took just a moment to slow down, you could actually get more of the right things done in less time and be more productive.
My favorite tool for being more productive is simple. Make a list of everything you’d like to accomplish this week (or if you prefer, just make a list for just today). Then put each item into one of four categories: Do it. Delay it. Delegate it. Delete it. The stuff you choose to do is important. It is a priority. The stuff you delay is not urgent and is actually causing you stress because you don’t have time to do it right now, and frankly, it doesn’t yet need to be done. Put it on your schedule for a later date. The stuff you delegate are the things that do not require your personal attention. Someone else can handle it just fine. And the stuff you delete? Well, it serves no important purpose at this time. Give yourself permission to take it off of your to-do list.