Are you busy being busy?

As Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, once said “Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: busy doing what?”

As I travelled in the lift up to my office on the 3rd floor in Minerva House, you make polite conversation and the first question you inevitably ask is “how are you?”  “Busy” came the response from the person next to me and they asked me how I was. As if I needed to somehow outdo them I said “Really busy!”. You know like it was a badge of honour!

The same thing happened in the kitchen while I made a morning cuppa.

As I sat at my desk I couldn’t help but wonder what are we all so busy doing? Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy? Why is busy the first thing you think of when you are asked how you are? Are we scared to say what we are really doing with our time? Are we even conscious about what is taking up all our time?

I set myself a challenge, that every time I was asked how I was I would find another way of responding. I recall on a leadership course I attended, the lecturer described busy people as  “in demand,” I quite liked that term. It certainly sounded a lot more like it was a choice than being busy. I found that sharing with people some great stuff I was working on really changed the conversation from a heavy shouldered one to a much more upbeat and positive interaction.

As I tested out this theory, it made me realise a few things:

  1. The power of 3 – always have two to three big goals you are working on that you know are priorities at any given time. It makes you focus and take you out of reactive and into proactive.
  2. Instead of always focusing on doing more, task yourself each week to focus on what you can do less of. Free up all that busy time.
  3. The art of delegation – am I doing things I shouldn’t be doing? This might be because it’s easier than the really big things I should be doing.

So, I guess the challenge is to think about how busy you are and what you spend your time doing. It can be sobering!

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About Author

Kate Herbert

Kate is Head of People at OMD UK, ensuring the agency's people become the very best they can be. In the last few years, she has overseen the implementation of You@OMD UK, our brand made up of four key pillars: OMD Academy (our Learning and Development programme), OMD Life (our Health and Wellbeing initiative), Licence to Switch (an initiative that enables anyone in the agency to apply for a secondment within another team) and Giving It Large (enabling the agency to give back to the community).

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