It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less. — Nathan W. Morris
“I’m so busy right now.” This wonderful little phrase has become a status symbol in the world of today. You say it, I say it, my 16 year old niece says it. We’re all too busy for anything other than completing the never-ending tasks we set for ourselves each and every day. Anyone who has spoken to me over the last 3 weeks would have heard me proudly complain about my busyness. You might have listened to me boast about the days where I have so much to do that I needed to cancel plans with friends and family, waking up at 5 am on a Sunday and remaining glued to my laptop until 10pm. Or how I've suffered through a recent bout of exhaustion, trying to keep up all the projects I’m juggling up in the air.
Not too long ago, I wasn’t that busy. There was a period when I had very little income coming in, no emails about collaborations and no one asking to work with me. Now that that has changed, I take pride in wearing my busy behaviour with a badge of honour, competing with my friends over how tired and drained we all are because we’re all working that hard. Constant grinding. Team no days off. A girl’s gotta eat right, so how else is that gonna happen without the ongoing hustle?
The world praises us for this “effort”. We’re commended for the nights spent working late into the early hours of the morning. We receive verbal pat-on-the-backs for waking up before dawn to begin our daily slog through emails. Working lunches are routine - battle scars we like to have on display. We’ve convinced ourselves that if we’re not constantly exhausted, we must be not working hard enough.
Saying “I’m so busy” is fast becoming a rehearsed statement that we throw at each other without any real meaning. Just fluffy nothingness to make us look valuable - a stick to measure one another by. If you’re not busy, what are you even doing with all your time ? I’m all about hard work because honey you’re not getting anywhere without rolling up your sleeves and applying a little elbow grease! But glorifying this constant state of busy is wrong because really and truly, you’re probably not as busy as you think you are. You see, there’s a HUGE difference between being busy and being productive. HUGE!
By holding a mirror up to my own behaviour, I’ve come to realise that when I say I’m super busy, what I’m really saying is I don’t have my shit together. It’s a mask to cover up the fact that I’ve spread myself too thin because I haven’t yet mastered the art of saying no. It hides the fact that maybe my time management isn’t as slick as I think it is. Crossing all those smaller tasks off my to-do-lists keeps my anxieties at bay because it looks like I’m accomplishing a lot. And yeh, multi-tasking makes me feel like a boss. Unfortunately human beings don’t multi-task well, even though we’re too stubborn to accept that truth. So while I may win a lot the small battles each day, it leaves very little time to focus on the main war.
Real productivity is about doing the tasks that will take you to your longer term goals, not just the short term goals that stop you procrastinating.
We all know that saying, “you have as many hours in day as Beyonce”. People use that as the mantra for hustle life, for working until your fingers bleed. But I think most are missing a trick here. Successful people work smart - they don’t tire themselves out by submitting to the rules of busy. They single-task, prioritising two or three things to accomplish each day and focus all their energy on those things alone. Anything else is a distraction so they don’t let it steal their attention until their main tasks are completed. That’s productivity friends. That’s how to free up much more time in our schedules in order to enjoy weekends however we chose because for once, we are actually getting shit done. So next time you hear someone or yourself use the ‘b’ word - call bullshit. Concentrate more on the things that add real value rather than chasing all the teeny things that only get in the way. And please, no more of this 419 behaviour, busy ain't fooling' nobody!