Following on from Kathy’s recent post on why you might have to be brave to say ‘no’ sometimes, I want to reflect a bit on busy-ness and how it can help if it’s a good kind of busy, or if it isn’t, then it leads us into needing to say ‘no’.
I am nearly always busy, and of course it’s the standard answer these days when you ask someone how they are. They often answer “Oh, busy!” And so we don’t really know what kind of busy they are and it’s impossible to know if it is in fact a cry for help of some kind, or if they are doing just fine. Perhaps we can ask a follow-up question about whether it’s “good busy” or “problem busy”. In this post, I’d like to look at the former type of busy, the kind where there is no problem:
This is when you just seem to be firing on all cylinders. You have lots to do and somehow, this motivates you to get it all done. You read avidly, type super-fast, make the most of every minute and keep knocking things off your to do list: boom, boom, bang and the work is done! You can even squeeze a bit extra in here and there and impress people! You might work late or miss the odd lunch time/coffee break but it’s because you’re just flying through your work. You’re flowing and it’s great. You know it won’t last forever but it’s as if the creative muse has struck and you’re making the most of it
It’s a feeling that I get just after a conference, if I have time to reflect on it. Meeting others who are passionate about related areas of work, and discussing with them really inspires and motivates me, and if I write about it for my blog then that helps me to process all the great stuff I’ve heard about. I find that after such a reflection, I am quicker to respond to emails and I find it easier to focus on my to do list, crossing off one thing after another. Getting the right balance between social activity for inspiration and quiet time to reflect is my pathway to this kind of busy-ness. What about you? Do you know what circumstances lead you into your most productive state and how you can bring that about?
This is most days. Work flows in and work flows out: there’s lots to do, just like always. You can’t get it all done, but on balance, you’re clearing a path through your inbox and crossing things off your to do list at least as fast as items are added to it. Your calendar is manageable, your desk is as tidy as it’s going to get and you’re making headway. You know which meetings you’re going to when, and which things you might need to postpone or send apologies to, in order to get the priority stuff done. You’re busy but it’s fine: you know what needs to be done: you can keep plugging away until you reach an inspirational stage again.
For me, the danger is that if I hang around in “standard busy” mode for too long, I start to lose my motivation. I can’t keep that up so will need to plan a break or, if there are pressing needs, do something to kick start an inspirationally busy stage. Otherwise, my to do list will start to grow too long, and I’ll get into one of the problem busy areas. Which is what I’m going to look at in “part two”.
Next week: two kinds of busy that are a problem.