Busyness versus Business: One Letter Makes All the Difference

Twenty four hours in a day. No more, no less. And while every business leader knows it is impossible to add a single minute to the day, we fall into the trap of not using the minutes we have wisely.

Ask yourself: Is your day filled with business that moves your goals forward or is it filled with busyness that keeps you at a standstill? The truth is we live in a culture that celebrates multi-tasking. Being “too busy” has become a status symbol of sorts.

So if you find yourself frustrated that month after month you can’t see progress in your goals, let me encourage and challenge you with these questions:

Do you approach each day with purpose?
Put simply, before your feet hit the floor, do you have specific goals for each day? This means before the day begins, some thought has been given toward what we hope that day will hold and better yet, what we plan to accomplish. This intent goes beyond a to-do list, but instead pushes thinking to a higher level. The tasks I must complete link to a greater goal, strategy or initiative.

Do you have an organization system?
In an age that gives us technology gadgets for every occasion, this question goes deeper than what version of blackberry or I-Phone you have. Instead, it digs deeper to explore how you are keeping status of the chaos of your world. Without some type of system, the urgent will become your priority each day.

Are you keeping score?
This question hurts. It is common to hear people – many professionals in fact – talk about lofty and grandiose plans for the future. Yet, upon closer inspection, you recognize they have talked about those same dreams for months and even years. Keeping score in our business means we have translated the “what I want to do” to “how I plan on getting there” detail. Key milestones along the way help keep us focused and better yet, give us the freedom to say not the involvements that do not lead us to our goal. Which leads us to the last question…

Can you say no?
This question doesn’t mean you are not a helpful resource nor that you are only focused on “your” agenda. Instead, as professionals we are faced daily with many “good” things to be involved in, lend support to, or even engage in conversation. It is important to give. However, busyness creeps into your day (month and year) if you do not learn when and how to pass on those endeavors that do not advance your goals. It’s often called setting healthy boundaries. And let’s face it, that’s a trap that can be too easy to fall in to.

So fast forward with me. It’s the end of another crazy work day. As you reflect on the past 8, 10 or even 12 hours, how did you do? Was the day about business or busyness? Don’t like your answer? Well, there’s good news. Your answer today doesn’t have to be your answer tomorrow.

Would love to hear from you. What other strategies work for you?

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