The Crazy Badge of Honor
Busy is a badge of honor in business circles. But, running around like a chicken with its head cut off isn’t a sign of importance. We falsely believe that busyness reflects significance.
“Crazy busy,” – all the time – is crazy.
The “too busy” assessment:
- I remember when I felt on top of things.
- I wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.
- I feel like things are falling through the cracks.
- Time to reflect? What’s that?
- The last time I spent a day unplugged was ____ weeks/months ago.
3 dangers of busy:
- Confusing busy for significance. The opposite may be true. The busier you are the less meaningful your life becomes. Significance, like deep relationships, takes time.
- Investing in trivialities and urgencies. The “fire fighter” leader misses the point. Leaders do what matters. There’s often a difference between urgent and significant.
- Losing yourself, the greatest tragedy of all.
7 ways to overcome crazy busy:
- Stop blaming others for your busyness. When did you become so helpless? Own it.
- Say, “Can it wait until this afternoon,” when someone rushes in with a crisis. Give space for people to solve issues on their own.
- Delegate repeated activities. Successful leaders become less, not more, essential.
- Prioritize. “Crazy busy” is leadership without priorities. What’s important today? Make a list of three must-dos for today.
- Start saying, “No,” based on priorities, values, vision, and mission.
- Schedule a quiet day or weekend.
- Commit to build a legacy not a tragedy.
Bonus: Schedule some form of quiet time every day to reconnect.
Don’t confuse lack of activity with finding sanity. Labor to enter rest. Schedule it. Plan it. Execute on a rest initiative.
3 quick tips:
- Take several short breaks during the day.
- Close the door to your office.
- Answer email at the top of the hour or once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
How might leaders manage crazy busy schedules?
What might you do today to find sanity in a crazy busy world?
You are absolutely right. I remember some days when I used to act ‘crazy busy’. All that happened, was that I ended up being tired, exhausted and bad tempered. I also ended up confusing myself and others around me.
Sometime around the time the first flecks of grey hair appeared on my head, I realised that sometimes it is good to remember that song by Donovan, when he sang “Slow Down World”…
I get frustrated when I hear people talking about “how busy” they are ALL of the time! We ALL are. My feeling is, if you have time to be telling everyone that, then maybe you really aren’t all that busy. We all have the same number of hours in the day and a choice in how we spend them.Honestly, I see frazzled, crazy busy people as a distraction and unorganized. Get control of your life and your schedule. You only have one lifetime to live. It’s our choice how we live it. And I agree with the three quick tips! We all need breaks and will function better if we take them!
What do you do when you don’t walk around saying how busy you are but people approach you and say “I know your busy but…” and proceed to ask for something. Tasks that are enjoyable and meaningful never make you feel “busy”. Its the tasks that you feel ineffective, lack vision for etc. that bring about this daunting feeling of busyness which is often more mental than physical.
This is very valuable information. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the masses 🙂
Delegate, delegate, delegate! Letting go of “comfortable” duties that could be done by staff was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn and one of the most valuable changes I ever made. It showed my trust in them as it liberated me from time consuming rote tasks. I was better able to focus on the significant rather than the urgent. Lots to digest and consider in this post!
Don’t understand ‘I wake up refreshed and ready to face the day’ fitting into the “too busy” assessment??? Either ‘I wake up refreshed and ready to face the day – until I remember what that day is going to be like’ OR ‘ I never wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.’
Super post – as usual, it’s about choices, including stay / change or move on…
So true. Good informational post…
I think personality and emotions may play a role here as well. Some individuals need to feel like they are in control all of the time and therefore cannot delegate, while others are afraid to share responsibilites for fear that they can be replaced. They need to get comfortable with the fact that everyone is replacable and change is something to look forward to rather than fear. Delegation also requires planning and communicating. If you dont do these well, delegating can feel like dumping to your subordinates and in some cases, can set them up to fail. But when done well, delegation can engage employees, and promote personal and professional growth for both parties.
You need to control your direction, there are various stages of busy, learning to control them is the trick. You control the outcome in most cases.
Good morning Dan;
Prioritising ‘effectivley’ is a large important respondsability of every leader. Micro-managing leaders place priority on everything. My perception and experience lead me to strongly believe this is due to the leader believeing that without his involvemen, “thing’s would fall apart.” When we place priority on ‘everything’, NOTHING HAS PRIORITY.
Above my desk at home hangs the following mantra; “The most important thing to do, is the most important thing to do.”
The larger the organization the more damaging the effects are of over-prioritising. Organization that do over-priorities find their most important ‘suffer most’.
Effective, ‘efficiant’ leaders get to know their people, their skills & talents and place them in a position/job that fit’s those skill’s. More importantly, they empower these people with the power of decision making authority. Peak performers do not need you looking over their shoulder, Nor do leaders have the time to do so and accomplish their own responbsabilities.
No one said leadership is easy. Don’t make it harder on yourself. Heaven know’s, solid leadership is not easy to attain on it’s own. Let alone trying to do everyonelses job.
“Don’t confuse Activity for Accomplishment…” John Wooden
Dan, here in America leaders pride themselves on working an entire 8-hour day, and often more. Throughout the world, however, everyone takes a “nap break” between 1 in the afternoon and 3pm. This has been commonplace for centuries, and for good reason. A 45-minute mid-afternoon nap has been scientifically proven to increase alertness, enhance performance, improve decision-making, reduce risk of heart attack and stroke, decrease risk of diabetes, improve stamina, elevate mood, boost creativity, help memory—and some of the fun stuff like improve sex life, preserve youthful looks, lose weight, and simply just feel good. People around the world seem to work hard, play hard, and nap hard.
While a 45-minute or even a 15-minute nap may not be feasible, surely your identification of “crazy busy” is not healthy. There was this great management thinker back in the 1930s by the name of Orison Swett Marden who spoke of managers as “developers of value.” He claimed these leaders do not work frantically, rather they work with purpose for a reason, making plans and executing them, learning from actions, and then redirecting them as needed. Ultimately, he said everything they do fall under Mapping + Making + Meshing which then Equals Developing.
Mapping is having a clear vision of what you’re up to. Knowing your mission and choosing your priorities wisely—as well as seeing success points.
Making is actually doing the work—with diligence every day. And it is also enjoying successful process.
Meshing is developing and refining your skills so you’re always growing, and having fun seeing progress.
With respect to “crazy busy,” I see Marden’s perspective as a way of arresting scattered energy and categorizing it to be productive action.
Spopt on. “Good comment.”
One of the most insane views I ever heard on this subject was the following:
“If you’ve got time to think, you aren’t busy enough!”
If you don’t make time to think, you’ll definitely be busy: re-doing all the things you could have done right first time if you’d taken time to think about them.
Whenever I see something like this, i’m reminded of the description of “Busy Backons” from the Tao of Pooh.
I used to be forced to have conversations that went like this: Is it more important than X, because that’s where I’ll have to pull resources from.
I think that we need to schedule time in our day to plan vs execute.
Just yesterday I was working with an executive women’s group and we were talking about ways to explore our own perceptions and challenge thinking. To change your thinking you need to make time to think! Amazing how jumping from task to task without carving out thinking time each day can create stinger feelings of busyness and a narrower field of view.
I’m also on a personal mission to answer questions when people ask how I am or how business is to refrain from using the work busy and telling a story. When I hear the busy answer from someone else, I ask them what they’ve been enjoying!
Activity is not necessarily an indication of progress. Sometimes it is just motion. It’s like going out to drive your car with no destination and no plan. On a Sunday afternoon it may be a good way to relax. But, if that constitutes the bulk of our existence, we will come to the end of our days and look back with very little accomplished and a lot of time and energy squandered. One of the biggest things I see missing from our lives today is intentional reflection. What is our purpose? What are we trying to accomplish? What is the plan? What are the next steps? Who do I need to engage in my journey? Without time to reflect on the goals we have and the daily activities we take part in, I’m afraid that we will walk through life without the awareness required to reach those goals. In the end we will come to the end office lives and realize we missed the chance to have an impact.
Good article. This is one of the key things we are working on tackling. I’ve seen that a good management system (collection of habits and regular daily structure) can help with some of the craziness. I like your point about prioritization. Would this be the tie-back to your strategic goals?