Friday, October 30, 2009


Don't you hate hearing the excuse from people who say to you, "I'm too busy." When I hear that, I have to consider the fact that this person, like myself and every other person in the world, has 24 hours in any given day to accomplish the tasks set before them. "I'm too busy" may merely be a substitute for other issues that have clogged someone's calendar or interfered with what should be most important in one's calling and vocation. Let's explore some of the reasons why people assume they might be too busy...
  • not organized - the inability to order and prioritze the multiple tasks one has does not mean one is too means they are unorganized!
  • distracted - there are lots of things in life that MIGHT seem more important or more fun. These people are not too busy...they are not focused!
  • inability to say NO - busy people are people who get things done, and will be asked to do more. They are also people who tend to say YES to everything. These people are never too busy...they just have not said NO for awhile!
  • like to complain - it seems good and right to always say one is too busy - they may even wear it as a badge of honor. These people are not too busy...they just want everyone else to think they are important!
  • work in an unhealthy environment - there are places that might demand too much of their people and expect work to be done in unimagineable amounts and timelines. These people are not too busy - they are not in a position to either manage their own work, say NO, or quit!
  • poor processes - if it takes 6 hours to do a job that could be done in 3, it might be that the process one uses is faulty. These people are not too busy...they are slaves to a process that is not a good fit for what they are trying to accomplish.!
  • in the wrong vocation - when people are doing what they either do not have the talent to do or do not love to do, it will always seem to them as if they are overwhelmed. They are not too busy...they are in the wrong position!

As leaders, it is easy to get "too busy" or to put others in a position where they get "too busy." How can we keep from getting "too busy" in our work? A few thoughts:

  • breathe - literally, take a deep breath when you feel this way, or take a quick walk, and then get after the task with a clearer head and mindset.
  • organize - is your desk or file cabinet messy? Does it LOOK like you are too busy? Get rid of the extraneous "stuff" that you no longer need and let your work space reflect a life that is never "too busy."
  • learn to say NO - next time someone asks you to do something, or an opportunity comes across your desk, ask yourself if by doing that project or going to that conference will really help you move forward in your job, mission, or life. If the answer is YES, realize that you may have to let something else go in order to make the new project happen. If NO, then politely say NO or throw the flyer away.
  • turn the sound off on your computer -you do not need to know when every email arrives. What if the post office delivered letters and journals to your office every 20 minutes or so? You would get irritated. Treat your email the same way. Decide at which times of day you are going to answer your emails. (May I suggest early morning and later afternoon?).
  • check you ego - go deep and ask yourself why you feel so busy. If it has to do more with who you are that what you do, then make a decision to engage in a different thought pattern and a different way of answering people when they ask how you are doing. Next time, instead of saying, "I'm too busy," respond with a phrase that talks about the importance of your work or how much you are accomplishing.

This list could go on and on - and there are many books to help one get organized and have more control of thier lives. Leaders need to have control, because so much around them is out of control. While many of us thrive on the compliment "You look so busy," perhaps we should arrange our lives so that people say to us," It looks as if you have nothing to do," while deep inside they know (and so do we) that great things are happening because of us!


Matt Grahn said...

I am a people pleaser. I know this about myself. Saying "No" to things? You got me in this posting. GUILTY! I have an extremely difficult time doing that. Starting on Sunday, it's "No"-vember. I am going to make a concerted effort to simply say "No" to things that aren't already on my plate.

Organization? Agreed! I have been continuously working on maintaining a system that works for me, as well as eliminate clutter. A few years ago I was very guilty of being disorganized. Being a "pack-rat" by nature, this is something that I work at every day. I have found that my stress over being "busy" has decreased with improved organization.

My "busy" stress is truly now from being busy. Work, coaching, finishing my master's degree, trying to be a good husband... It adds up! But I don't feel pressure because I have implemented many of your strategies you have mentioned.

This is a great lesson to young leaders! Thanks for sharing!

Don Christian said...

thanks for the feedback - I like the idea of implementing a "NO-vember" - I may have to do the same. Also guiltyof being a people pleaser - maybe that's why we understand this issue so well:)