Updated: Jul 23, 2020
The busyness paradox is a vortex that can suck us in every single day. I know this vortex well. Every time I accomplish one task, 3 more tasks magically appear. The worst part of the vortex is that feeling at the end of the day. You know the one… That churning feeling in your gut when you know you did so many things, yet nothing seemed to get done.
Fret no more friend, I’ve got some ideas for you! Here are 4 simple shifts you can incorporate to pull yourself out of the busyness paradox. As a retired queen of busyness and task crushing, I broke out of the busyness cycle. You. Can. Too.
Here we go!
1. Plan your day in advance.
Before you sit down and jump into the work-day, think about the most important task that needs to get done today. I like to do this at the end of my workday. I take 1-2 minutes to write down the most important tasks for tomorrow before walking out the door. It also feels so much better to come into work the following day already knowing what has to be done first.
Fast forward to the next day. You have your most important task, this may be your lesson plans for the following week or turning in a big proposal. FYI…This most important task or two is usually not emails. Get that important task done FIRST. Yup, right away in the morning. The majority of jobs are similar in terms of emails rolling in and other people pulling you in a million directions. Before that happens, finish that large task that will make you feel so much lighter when it’s done.
2. Group your low-value tasks together.
Low-value tasks are those action items that have to get done or you just enjoy doing them more than the most important tasks. They can be more appealing because they require less mental energy. These, my friend, are emails.
I’m a big fan of organizing files and making documents more aesthetically pleasing. These would also be low-value tasks. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with your larger, important tasks.
Low-value tasks can’t necessarily be eliminated, but they do need a time slot in your day. Group these tasks together and bang them out all at once. This is also referred to as batching. Emails suck a lot of my energy, so I give my inbox my full attention during very specific times of the day. When it’s not email time, my inbox is closed. Don’t let these low-value tasks monopolize your day.
3. Plan for non-busy time.
Non-busy time can be extremely difficult to guard, but it’s so crucial. It allows your brain to reset. Is it possible to designate one full day or an afternoon to no work? Maybe this is a Sunday morning. How wonderful would it feel to wake up and know, this is my rest day! Rather than, I’ll just catch up on my emails quick or bang out some laundry.
Can you extend that one step further? Is it possible to give yourself 5, or maybe 15, minutes during your workday to just sit and drink some tea? Start small and manageable in a way that works for you.
4. Have regular check-ins with your brain.
Get real about your time. This step is the most difficult for me. I underestimate how long everything takes me. Get out your cellphone time and start tracking. How long does it actually take you to commute to work, including walking into the building and getting settled? How long does it take you to respond to emails on average each day? How long do your regular meetings last? How long do your regular, important tasks take? Track this!
Now that you know how long things are actually taking, step 1 gets easier. When you’re planning your day in advance you can adjust your plan for the actual time it will take you to complete something. How empowering!!
There you have it! 4 steps to kick busyness in the butt. Before you dive in and start taking action, remember to start slow and stick with it. Changing ingrained habits is extremely difficult. A transformation will not happen overnight, but if you put in the consistent, intentional work you will see a shift. Want to put this technique into place alongside someone? I learned this strategy alongside my partner in crime, Joel on The Marigold Force Podcast in March. Listen to the episode below to do the work alongside us!
The Marigold Force Podcast