Busy Being Busy?
"When we are busy being busy, we create more reasons to be busy. When we are engaged and pursuing priorities, we generate life's key results" - James McPartland
Sometimes being busy is necessary, yet it will never produce a meaningful outcome by itself. While finishing an email during a conference call or texting as you drive home might feel productive, both forms of motion only provide an illusion of progress. Distraction prevents presence, and a lack of presence is fraught with danger. It is impossible to be present in two places at once. When we attempt this impossible feat, we amplify the likelihood of making a minor mistake or worse-- bringing about a consequential disaster.
Why are so many of us busy being busy? Activity is motion, and it is easy to convince ourselves in the midst of constant movement that we are really getting things done. Busyness develops as a pattern that quickly becomes a habit-- something we do repeatedly without giving it much thought. And habits can be very hard to break.
On the upside, you can work to develop good habits-- ones that have you consistently working on high-priority action steps. To be able to trust this truth, we need to have a well-articulated sense of how various activities fit into the whole schematic of our lives. It is well worth regularly returning to a process of asking ourselves several crucial life questions:
Why am I on this planet and what is my life assignment?
What is the vision that I (and the key stakeholders in my life), have for what living into my life assignment looks like, and what's in it for them?
What must I accomplish in the short-term to make this vision happen?
Where am I trying to get to in the long-term and at various points along my journey?
What parts of my life must be nurtured to give me the energy required to arrive at these destinations with a sound mind, fit body, and vibrant spirit?
What key projects must be completed and by when, to fulfill my life assignment?
What specific action items must be scheduled in order to deliver each aforementioned project on time?
This may seem a bit heavy, yet how else will we know if our daily activity is getting us closer to our dreams and goals? We need to stop the busyness from time to time and honestly evaluate our current state, then clarify what we're trying to get to. If we are not connecting our long-term vision to our present activities, we may be busy thinking we're "making it happen", but chances are we're not getting anything truly meaningful accomplished. The decisions we make today get better when we map them out.
I challenge you to take a crack at the following activities and give your to-do list greater meaning:
Get a fresh journal, notebook, or writing pad
Answer the "life questions" outlined above
Capture all of your to-dos, ideas, and recurring tasks
Clarify the required action steps to execute on the items on your "capture" list
Organize the steps by key categories (business, family, health, financial). Assign dates, then pre-load actionable items into your schedule
Reflect and revisit each step, to determine if the proper action is loaded into the proper place on your calendar
Engage, get to work, and review your life's priorities and activities list weekly, so as not to allow major time to be allocated to minor things.
Set a new schedule on Sunday, refine it at the end of each day, review it each morning, and ask yourself what the vital 3 priorities are that must be completed each and every day
Being busy is rarely something to be proud of. Living on purpose through the accomplishment of unique daily priorities means honoring the gifts we've been given and the ultimate treasure we receive when we get to use those gifts to serve our communities. We can be overwhelmed by what we have to do, or we can have an overwhelming impact by what we are able to do. The choice is ours. We can't do both.