7 Smart Reasons to Quit being Busy

I am curious. Are you happy with your work?
And by happy, I mean this.

  • Are you getting the results you want or your business needs?
  • Are you sure that what you do adds value and has meaning for you?
  • Are you making a contribution that makes a difference?
  • Are you fulfilling your responsibilities without stress?
  • Are you able to achieve deadlines, keep promises and complete projects?

If you are 'happy', fantastic! Heartfelt yet envious congratulations to you!
PLEASE share your recipe for the secret happiness-at-work elixir with us in the comments box below.
Tips gratefully received.

Unhappy with your work?

Not necessarily unhappy but unfulfilled?

Then read on.

Feeling the pressure to get everything done seems to be the norm these days. Increasingly, we are feeling the burn – stressed out trying to get more done in less time.

We are conscious of the need to have a powerful impact at work and socially.

Monday morning and Friday afternoon (late) often finds you staring down the abyss-like gloom of the to-do list with no end.

Oh and some of that seemingly mythical work/life balance would be marvellous too if it were not something else to add to my to-do list.  Wishful thinking.

You are needed, important, busy, BUSY! You are the epicentre of stuff happening.

Hands up if you are busy.
I’ve stopped typing. I have raised my left hand – actually both hands are in the air.
It’s a stick up.
NO, it’s a set up.

Being “busy” is…
1. A bubbling stew of misery seasoned with misplaced sense of self-importance.

2. Stressful; which can make you emotionally and physically sick. Burnout is no joke!

3. An emotional state. Check out ‘Why I Stopped Working With Busy People’ by Marissa Bracke to understand the big difference between someone who feels busy and someone who has a lot going on in their business.

4. An obstacle to you making a meaningful contribution to your work or business.

5. Blocking you from being present in your life.

6. Hiding from the real work that needs done to make a difference. The kind of work that throws up hard questions and demands you find solutions off the beaten path.

7. Lazy. “Lazy people are always busy.” – Basque proverb.

There you go. 7 reasons why you need to STOP being ‘busy’ right now.

Let me share with you some of the busy-busting tips I discovered on my own quest to stop being busy.

5 Smart Brainpokes to Cure Busy Minds

1. Ten questions for work that matters by Seth Godin are a great place to start your treatment.  (Psst…There are actually 11 questions – bonus brainpoke!)

“What are you doing that’s difficult?
What are you doing that people believe only you can do?
Who are you connecting?
What do people say when they talk about you?
What are you afraid of?
What’s the scarce resource?
Who are you trying to change?
What does the change look like?
Would we miss your work if you stopped making it?
What do you stand for?
What contribution are you making?
Hints: Any question that’s difficult to answer deserves more thought. Any answers that are meandering, nuanced or complex are probably a symptom of something important.”

2. Don’t believe in busyness as a badge of honour. Busyness means that you are physically present but NOT productive.

Leaders, take care that you are when promoting a culture of busyness.  A ‘dynamic’ culture can quickly degenerate into a ‘manic’ toxic environment, if you take your eye off the ball.

SOME HARD QUESTIONS:  In a busy-centred organisation culture;

  • How productive are your employees?
  • What value are they contributing?
  • What is the impact on their health and well-being in the long term?
  • Are they focused on contributing to the success of their team/business?
  • What does this say about the organisation culture?

Find new and different ways to direct attention and energy towards what’s important for the business and individual employees OR feel the pain and cost of a busy culture on your bottom line and brand.

As Professor Cooper says in an article for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), “create workplaces that people want to go to” and are willing to contribute and gift their best talents.

The time is NOW.  Invest in creating a culture that motivates, inspires, makes people want to do their best work and drives the business forward! Not easy, but necessary.

3. This one is a biggie. How often have you skipped lunch, eaten at your desk, allowed your meal or break to be interrupted in the name of being busy?

You later find yourself frazzled, hungry, lacking in concentration with zero productivity.

The cure. Take heed of advice #2. Eat more consciously in Martha Roberts’ article ‘Five (easy-to-achieve) slow-down tips for busy people’ resonated loudly with guilty me.

4. Nourish your brain and boost your connectivity. You need to know about the current wisdom out there and connect with those are doing cool future-focused stuff that could inspire and help you and your business move forward.

If you are committed to making valuable contribution you must keep up with the latest developments. Saying you can’t find the time just will not cut it. This is a sure-fire way to guarantee your ideas and thinking becoming stale.

Plan and budget to attend at least one conference or workshop away from your workplace per year. Pay for it early – it helps to increase the likelihood of you going and not wasting precious budget funds.

In between, snack on bite-sized brain power boosters. Set aside an hour per week to read something new, listen to a podcast from outside of your discipline or watch a how-to video.

5. Need more convincing to quit being busy? Try 9 comics about the busyness of everyday life, including cat advice (naturally). Laura Willard’s article, with Gemma Correll’s illustrations, is scarily on point.

My favourite illustration is The Awards for the Formerly “Busy” – so funny and real world true.

So if you are not able to quit being busy cold turkey, I recommend you try these 5 busyness cures to kick the habit. The antidote to frantic busyness is absolute focus on doing what has value and is meaningful.

If you are a Leader or HR Lead in your organisation, start with yourself. Then lead the charge to eliminate busyness in your business.

Replace busyness with the healthy habit for consistently creating, connecting and contributing value.

Creating value through humans - the new HR Habit!

Art via @gapingvoid

  • What tips can you share about how to stop being busy and start doing meaningful work?
  • Tell all about your experience and tips in the comments below.

Thank you for stopping by. If you enjoyed this post, please share so other readers can enjoy it too.

This post was originally posted in full in the blog The HR Rabbit Hole on 17th January 2016. It has been tweaked only a little and now freshly served for the Recruiting Blogs community.

Nicole is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Aquarius Human Resources Consulting Ltd. Passionate about HR as Art, she is an advocate of Creative HR and transforming HR. Connect via Twitter @AquariusHRLtd.

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