Busyness is not a physical state it’s an emotional state. Everyone has a lot of things to do each day and that list will never end. Every day we have to make breakfast, make our beds, brush our teeth, prepare our kids for school and choose the clothes we will wear for the day and then go and do a day’s work. Millions of people around the world have the same or similar routine every day seven days a week. Yet some people say they are busy while others have everything under control and feel calm and relaxed. Why?
In this week’s article, I give you five reasons why you feel busy and five ways to fix them.
1 You don’t write things down
This is the number one reason so many people feel busy. Not writing down what you have to do means you are relying on your brain to manage the things you have to do. Our brains are terrible at being a to-do list manager. Our brain does not compartmentalise what needs doing. So it reminds you to reply to an email while you are brushing your teeth just before going to bed. It reminds you to wash your daughter’s sports kit while you are in the middle of an important presentation.
Your brain is just not designed to be a to-do list manager.
Get yourself a simple ring-binder notebook and carry it with you everywhere. Whenever you think of something that needs doing write it down. Alternatively, if you prefer a digital notebook or list manager, then get yourself an app. There are thousands of them in your App Store. It doesn’t have to be a complex app with a steep learning curve. You just need a trusted place to collect everything you have to do.
2 Your ‘system’ is too complicated.
Another common mistake. An effective to-do list is simple. It does not have a complex hierarchy of projects and sub-projects. It is just a list of the projects you have on at the moment with the tasks you have to do to complete those projects nested nicely and simply inside those projects.
I often get questions about dependent tasks, tasks that should recur every 3.5 days and tasks that may or may not be a task because the way it has been written is not very clear. Stop! A to-do list does not need all that complexity. All you need to know is what should be done today. That’s all you need to see. You do not need to be messing around with complex organisation structures. It’s just a list of things to do.
3 You’re not using your calendar properly
Your calendar never lies. It has 24 hours each day and you get to choose what you do with those 24 hours. Most people delegate responsibility for their time at work to their colleagues by allowing them to schedule meetings on their calendar. If you want to get control of your time start blocking time out each day on your calendar so you can get on with the important work in your life instead of being at the beck and call of your colleagues who love nothing more than to have another meeting to discuss a problem they are incapable of taking responsibility for.
Do you have four hours in the evening? Then schedule an hour or two for self-development every evening instead of watching pointless TV shows that are doing nothing for you except making you fat and lazy. Read a book, go out for an evening stroll or learn something on YouTube.
With your calendar, anything you decide to put on there gets done. No excuses. It gets done. This is to golden rule of any calendar. This is your time. Sure you may have contracted out eight hours of your day to the company you work for, but that still leaves you eight hours for sleep and eight hours for whatever you want to do. Use that time constructively. Don’t waste it.
4 You can’t say “no”
Here’s an interesting thought. For every “yes” you say to a commitment or event, you are saying “no” to doing something else with that time. If you fill your days with other people’s work and requests how much time do you have left for what you want to do?
People often see any free time on their calendar as time to fill. But that’s not true. If you have free time on your calendar, schedule that time for your family, or taking a gentle walk in the park. You don’t have to fill every available time on your calendar. Part of the reason people feel overwhelmed and busy is they are not allowing any time for themselves and that’s because they can’t say “no”.
Every day you need at least one hour for quiet time. To read, to do your hobby or to get some exercise. This is your time and you should never ever give it up for anyone else. Learning to say “no” gives you complete control over your time. When you have control over your time you feel less stressed and less overwhelmed and busy.
5 You Don’t have a plan
If you are not planning the day, you are giving responsibility to someone else to plan your day. Whether you like it or not, every day you live is planned. Either it is planned by you, your company, your partner your school or your clients and customers. Every day is planned. In my experience, the people who feel less busy are the ones who plan their own day and do not leave it to fate to plan it for them.
And planning your day does not mean spending hours thinking about what you want to do. Planning your day should only take around ten to fifteen minutes and the best time to plan your day is the evening before.
When you take ten to fifteen minutes to look at your calendar for the next day, review the tasks you have scheduled for the day and add or subtract tasks where necessary, you sleep better and you start the day with the things that you want to get done. When you plan in the morning — when you arrive at work — you waste time and energy deciding what to do. You will get a lot more done and feel a lot less busy when you start the day knowing exactly what it is you want to get done.
So there you go, five reasons why you feel busy and five fixes so you no longer need to feel busy. We all have enough time to get the important things in our life done. We do not have to spend every day feeling busy and overwhelmed. When you stop and write everything that needs doing down, keep your system simple and have a plan for the day, you will feel more relaxed and in control, have more energy and find that all the work that used to make you feel busy just gets done when it needs to get done.
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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.
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