If you are familiar with even some business development concepts, you may have heard people discuss the difference between being busy and being productive. It can be described as doing lots of things versus doing fewer of the right things.
I’ve also heard it said that people who are constantly “busy” really are just pointing out their lack of organization and control over their time and priorities. In fact, whenever people constantly tell me in an exasperated manner, “I can’t believe how busy I am!” I find myself just wanting to say, “then get organized! You’re just telling me you are unorganized and that you have no idea how to control your day and say “no” sometimes.” I hate to sound like a grumpy old man, but it seems like people are constantly attempting to validate themselves by acting busy. I have much respect for those who get so much accomplished with an air of peacefulness and confidence as they move through their days and weeks.
I have committed to becoming more and more productive for many years now. At this point, I can’t stand the word “busy” and see no need for it unless we are describing a marketing piece with too much crammed into too little space.
But what about being “present”? This is an interesting comparison I have recently been thinking about.
Here is one personal example. One night each week my wife and I park ourselves on the couch to catch up on The Bachelor. It’s mind-numbing, yes. And I’ll admit it isn’t only her that enjoys it. But regularly she will call me out on having my iPad open at the same time, catching up on Facebook or the latest news. She gets frustrated when I can’t seem to just be “present” with her watching the show. For some reason, I am keeping myself overly “busy” but I am missing an opportunity to be present.
Here is an annoying work example that we all can relate to. How many times have you been sitting in a meeting with someone and they have their phone out on the table? While you are attempting to engage in a conversation, the texts, alerts, and calls keep their phone buzzing throughout your lunch appointment. Even worse, the person stops in mid-sentence to look down at the phone, gauge who the message is from, and then put it back down. This is the essence of being so “busy” you can’t take the time to be “present” with the person you have blocked out time for. And let’s be real – how often is this person I’m describing…you?
Looking back over the past week or so, how many times can you think of that you have not been fully present with your kids, your spouse, your friends, your employees, your team, your clients, etc.?
Consider that every time you or I check our phone while in a meeting, we are telling the other person that they are less important than whoever might be interrupting our conversation.
In this day of being constantly connected with our devices everywhere we go, it is up to us to make a conscious decision to be present with others. Stop telling people how busy you are. Think of ways you can be more productive, getting more of the right things done with less chaos and stress. Say “no” to more things so you can say “yes” to the right things. This isn’t easy for you or me, but I am committed to improving dramatically going forward! How about you?