What are you going to do about “being busy” this year?
Never mind New Years’ resolutions—that usually adds things to an already full plate. Make 2019 the year to take some things off your “To-do list.”
“Busy” often equates to mediocrity, not to mention it is stressful and soul-sucking. As Guardian reporter, Oliver Burkeman put it in his “10 ways to feel less busy” article, “Being too busy, in short, isn’t a sign of your inadequacy but a mathematical certainty: finite people, attempting to do an infinite amount, will always feel overstretched by definition.”
Being less busy is about giving ourselves the chance to be more than mediocre in all that we do. That’s not to say everyone has the potential to be a genius playwright, an award-winning home-builder, or a nationally-recognized business leader, but how do you know if you never give yourself the head space or allow yourself the focus to find out?
A few ways to take back your time in 2019
Choose your “one thing.” According to Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, authors of The One Thing, the one important question you might ask yourself is “what do you want?”
The best-selling book examines the lies we tell ourselves about our own productivity and unlocks some of the “possibilities for exercising the greatness within that we often ignore in place of being busy with nothing.” Keller suggests that being busy makes us replaceable because we don’t get good at any one thing. “The employees who attempt to be good at everything but master nothing are ultimately replaceable.” For a summary of the book’s message, watch Gary Keller’s animated video, or read an excerpt on Amazon.
Imagine a day without social media. How many minutes of silence or productivity would you add to your day? For most of us who are not on social media for marketing reasons, it is lost time.
Distraction is the number one thief of productivity and focus (whether you are working towards a project deadline, or meditating). You’ve heard it all before. And here it is again:
-Turn off the notifications
-Silence your phone
-Choose specific times of day to check your email for updates.
It’s not an offense to let people know you will respond to their email in due time. Give them a time frame in which you will respond—three business days, 24 hours, or whatever works for you.
Be more selective with social engagement. Everyone talks about spending less time on social media, but what about your social life? Are you feeling the obligation to always say yes to the birthday parties, nights out to watch the game? Are you saying yes, more often than you are saying “Thank you, I’ll pass this time around”?
Actually find out how you spend your time. Time management apps, such as Rescue Time, can be downloaded onto any laptop, desktop, or mobile device and give you detailed reports and data on how you spent your day. Similar to how a FitBit tracks your physical activity, this app tracks online activities, and what applications and websites you visit and are taking up most of your time.
Prioritize. There will always be a list of things awaiting your attention. The key is not to allow the list to rule the day. Oliver Burkeman also suggests “respect your rhythms” when you are creating your schedule—maybe you are more productive and create genius work during two hours of focused work in the late night, rather than six hours in the daylight. Also “build in a buffer”—projects and tasks take longer than you think.
Once you have prioritized, discovered where and how you are spending your time, and found your “one thing”, guard these discoveries with your life. Your schedule is your schedule. Don’t be afraid to protect what you have decided to prioritize. And next time someone asks you, how are you doing, give another response, other than “I’m so busy.”
That tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.