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  • Sheeba Varghese

Are you "too busy"?

I don’t know about you, but I feel that remote work has left many professionals in a state of busyness. As you know, everybody has the same amount of time: 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour. We can’t save time, accumulate or rearrange it. We can’t turn it off or on and it can’t be replaced. But these days, it seems as if the lament of not having enough time has become a national anthem. Everywhere people find themselves constantly in a rush, over-booked and over-scheduled with no time off. Life is accompanied by the ongoing stress of not enough time. I hear this far too often with the clients that I train and coach in leadership roles.

What has been your experience?

Though it may not always seem so, how we fill our time and how we spend it is our choice. As you review the following statements, discover for yourself if you are caught up in the “too-busy” cycle.

1. I constantly find myself doing “urgent” things and trying to catch up. 2. I allow myself to drift into obligations when I don’t know how much time or energy they’ll require. 3. I find myself running from when I get up in the morning until I go to bed at night. I’m always tired and never feel like I accomplished enough. 4. I seldom schedule a day off for myself and when I do, I tend to fill it with activities. 5. I don’t make time for “self-care” activities: physical exercise, nurturing or “pampering” myself, cultural stimulation, spiritual well-being, learning something new, playing, or simply doing nothing. 6. I seldom have time to do the things I really love. 7. My work and project areas are cluttered with “I’ll look at this later” stacks and “to-do” piles. 8. I often miscalculate how long certain activities will take. 9. I often miss deadlines or work long hours to meet a deadline. 10. I respond to interruptions such as phone calls, texts, email, slack messages, and allow them to take me off track. 11. I try to keep things in my head rather than making lists. If I do make a daily “to-do” list, it’s impossible to complete in a day. 12. I tend to move from one urgent thing to the next, rather than working toward specific goals and objectives. 13. I find myself constantly wishing I had more time or projecting an imaginary future when I have more time, making comments such as “As soon as…” or “Next year…”. 14. I spend time running errands and rushing because I didn’t plan well enough. 15. I spend time doing things I could pay someone else to do. 16. I often do things because I “should,” or continue to do things that no longer fit who I am. 17. Other people complain that my schedule doesn’t allow enough time for them.

I have found a couple of reasons for our busyness while working with my clients over the years:

  • Sometimes clients feel that doing too much and being too busy can be a way of numbing feelings or disguising depression or anger.

  • Some leaders feel much more valuable when they are “busy”.

  • To delegate, leaders would need to get organized, and so the mindset becomes one in which, “I can do this so much faster than someone else. So why bother?”

  • Depending on the personalities of leaders, the management of time can also look very different. While some are quite rigid with their time, others can stick too many things within their day which then leaves them overloaded and stressed.

Regardless of the reasons for your busyness, whenever September comes around in a year, it often begins with a need for a higher level of management due to school schedules, end of the year goals, last quarter push, and holiday commitments. A couple of questions I want you to ask yourself to help manage your time are:

1. What is no longer a good use of my time? 2. What is something that someone else should do that can probably do it better than me? 3. What is something that someone else should learn to do as they consider their career trajectory? 4. What is the unique value that I bring and should concentrate my time on?

As you consider these questions, it’s important to know that you don’t have to work alone when it comes to managing your time. If you want to increase your productivity, delegate efficiently, and manage your time so you can shut down at the end of the day, then schedule a time with me to talk about your goals.