Busy bee on a sunflower - the important of taking time out to slow down

Busy? Yes, but are you busy doing the right things?

Are you just too busy?

Have you ever:

  • Chased around endlessly?
  • Thought ‘I just don’t seem to stop’?
  • Wondered where the time goes?
  • Felt exhausted from rushing from one thing to another?

If the answer is yes, I can relate to you because that was me some time ago. That’s before someone asked me a simple question.

Before I share the simple question, I’d like to ask, “What happened to good old conversation?”

Many years ago, when someone asked you: “How are things? or What have you been up to?” your likely reply was:

“Great, I’ve just come back from a weekend away, explored the history of the area, tasted some great local cuisine.”

or “Great, I’ve been designing a leadership development programme with a new client to build their leadership capacity, and just off now for a coaching session looking at how to utilise their strengths, the client’s making some great changes.”

Then, this ‘thing’ called ‘busy’ seemed to get in the way!

So, let’s bring things right back up to date, and ask the same question. Somehow the likely conversation goes something like this.

“How are things?”

“What have you been up to?”
“Been really busy”

If you’re feeling really generous, you may add this extra bit. “I don’t seem to have a minute spare at the moment. It would be great to catch up. We need to put something in the diary. Oh well, must rush. Got loads on today. I’m going to be late.”

Sound familiar? 

How did we allow this genuine conversation between two people, to change into a quick, lazy, exchange of words?

My personal response to this was because my life was really busy.

I was busy rushing from one thing to another. With so much rushing around in my head, I had no planned time to stop and think. Distracted by shiny things, I just felt really busy.

Anyway, feeling really busy was good right?

At that time, I have to say, I actually thought being busy was proof I was doing really well.

I’m slightly cringing here writing this, and owning up to actually believing this as true.

That’s right, somehow, I got some form of enjoyment from saying how busy I was. It was like a badge of honour. “Yeah, I’m doing really well, I’m so busy.”

That’s until, someone asked me the killer question:

“Busy doing what? How is your ‘busyness’ helping your business?”

Wow, that really did shoot me down. I was showered with an array of quotes which summed up what I was doing.

The one that stuck with me was by Peter Drucker.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

There I was, feeling very proud of my achievement of being busy, and then in the space of 5 seconds suddenly noticed the patterns on the carpet, and wanted to leave the room.

This question was such a simple question. It made me realise instantly that just because I was busy, didn’t mean I was being productive, effective or successful.

Then, there it was my ‘aha’ moment.

Nearly instantly, I realised I’d got caught up in the trap of spending my time on doing a lot of things, albeit doing them right, but needed to question myself if I was doing the ‘right’ things.

You know the ones which help you reach your goals and not someone else’s.

Part of my reflections was thinking about all the times I’d proudly shared with people how busy I was. More importantly, how many times, I’d dismissed people in my quest for ‘busyness.’ It was also how many times I’d missed out on having genuine conversations with people all for the sake of wearing my ‘busy’ badge of honour.

So if you want to:

  • Throw away your ‘busy’ badge of honour
  • Stop having the lazy exchange of words, and
  • Do the right things …it’s over to you.

What are you going to do to make sure you spend your time doing the right things, the ones that help you achieve your goals?

Are you going to commit to having more genuine conversations? You know the ones where you actually listen intently and ask questions that show you’re engaged?

After all conversations are meant to be interactive, feel natural and flowing – the very nature of conversations is to connect.

Taking time out away from your busy schedule helps you reflect, recharge and refocus on you and your impact as a leader.

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