How do you stay grounded and create value in a world that is so busy and impatient?
For many of us, our daily agenda is filled with so many tasks that we feel victorious if we can simply stay on top of it.
Never mind finding time and space for creating something that we feel is of real impact and meaning to us.
We call it The Busy Syndrome.
You might have The Busy Syndrome if:
- You wake up with your head being busy already.
- Your to-do list is directing you and not the other way round.
- You are fighting fires most of the time.
- You long for a time in your diary to just think, eat, pee (fill in the blank).
- You find yourself delaying important things to you.
- After a long day’s work you still feel like you haven’t achieved anything
We are so used to being busy that we very rarely question it.
So how do you break this habit of being busy, and start feeling a sense of achievement and personal satisfaction at the end of the day?
Create a space for meaningful work
You might find yourself running from one video meeting to another. Often without a proper bio or water break in between.
Many of these meetings will add to your “to do” list as you are attending them.
Then, when you are just about to action some of those items from your task list, an e-mail might arrive in your inbox or a message lands via an internal comms channel.
And you are distracted again.
Many companies have an unspoken culture, that e-mail or messages needs to be actioned upon ASAP. Once an e-mail arrives in your mailbox you feel the countdown clock is ticking.
No wonder so many people feel they are fighting fires every day, instead of creating something meaningful.
This is the reality of the 21st century and it will not go away.
You can control it as much as you can control the weather.
So how do you feel like a winner in a world with so much noise, that will not go away?
By creating time and space yourself, for the tasks that you know will make the biggest impact.
Most people I encounter, who have mastered their careers, inevitably create space to focus on what is truly important.
Be very clear about which tasks will strengthen your expertise and help you thrive.
Then make sure you create conditions for immersing yourself in them.
If you’re an early bird, get up early in the morning to read about the topic of your interest.
If not, make sure to block time in your meeting diary as “busy”, to focus on the idea you know would add value to your team during the day
Go away for a couple of days and lock yourself in a hotel room to work on the presentation that you know if done properly will make your heart and mind dance.
Find the way to create space that works with your life. But make sure not to use your life as an excuse for not creating this space.
Clarify Expectations – yours and others
Often we have unrealistic expectations of what good performance at home and at work looks like.
Many of these unspoken rules are handed down to us through society and company culture and we do not even question them.
These expectations are the reason why we have developed such terms as “office politics”, “presenteeism” and “organizational culture” to name a few.
Add all those other expectations you have outside your work as a mother, sister, partner, friend and you see all the navigation of expectations you have to deal with every day. Most of which you have never explicitly agreed to.
And toughest one from them all – is the expectation you have on yourself.
Acknowledging these expectations. Sorting through them. Re-defining and talking about them with others will help you reassess all you take on to your agenda.
It will show you with more clarity what you have to say “no” to.
As your agenda is full already, you should not look to say “yes” to more things, unless you are prepared to say “no” to some others.
In turn, it will create space in your diary for those activities that will hold more meaning and reward to you in the long run.
Talking about expectations. We also need to be aware of the trap we set ourselves up for, when we over/under estimate what can be achieved.
The Power of Tiny Gains
Too often we overestimate what can be achieved in a day or a week, but underestimate what could be achieved in a year.
If you want to master something, your focus should be on how you can find time and space to practice it on a regular basis, so you become better at it 1% every day.
This is one of the reasons why apps like Duolingo, Calm, or Headspace are so successful. It allows people to break down learning a new skill like language or meditation into small manageable bites, so it does not feel overwhelming. As the result – more people stick with these apps as it gives them a sense of small gains every day.
If you want to feel grounded in the world that is always spinning, you will need to take ownership of creating space for tasks, reflection, thinking that will help you to become a master of your chosen field.
In order to do so, you have to become keenly aware of the expectations you put on yourself and your organization puts on you when you are saying “yes” to something. Some of these expectations you will have to let go of, others might need renegotiation with other parties involved.
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Dovile Corrigan from Azkua team