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It is difficult to ask anyone ‘How are you doing?’ without hearing the word ‘busy’ at some point in the answer. All around the world I meet people who are over-whelmed; who are exhausted; who feel helpless in the face of the machine. These people aren’t serial moaners; they’re the life blood of any business: the committed employees, the leaders, the high potentials. These people are you and me. We’re striving and striving to keep up, using all the efficiency we can squeeze out of our technology, and we’re falling behind; but that is only half the story.
The other half of the story is the nagging sense of failure that we try and ignore: failing to live the life we dreamed of; to be the parent, partner or friend we want to be; to be as happy as we might be. Stretched tighter than a wire, something has to give. Unfortunately, often the things that give are what we value most.
It’s unsustainable commercially; draining professionally; depressing personally. It’s not much fun.
It doesn’t have to be that way; but we do need to radically change how we respond to our world of too much. For example, we should:
Stop managing your time!
We are now at a point where it is no longer possible to do it all, or to get on top: there is just too much to do. Time management makes us splinter time into ever smaller fragments; it makes us cram and squeeze activity into every second of our wakefulness; it makes us busier. In doing so, it stops us thinking and breathing. As a result, time management is part of the problem, not the solution!
Stop being so productive!
It used to be that the biggest management challenge was how to get people to work hard. Now that problem is solved; everyone works hard. Yet, for some reason we persist in playing the ‘more game’: assuming that if we produce more than others, if we respond more quickly, we will succeed. We won’t. In fact, rampant productivity is a weak substitute for genuine impact and differentiation; the things that matter in the information economy.
Stop justifying busy
Busy is self-defeating. We tell ourselves that we are busy so we can succeed, either for our loved ones or for our happiness. But as we get caught up in endless busyness, we disconnect from the relationships and the activities that matter most to us. As we disconnect, more and more, we damage the very relationships and happiness we were trying to improve.
Stop having so many friends!
Social media is wonderful and helps us maintain distant relationships that would otherwise wither; but there is also a downside: it is yet another demand to manage. In simple terms, the greatest psychological benefit from relationships doesn’t come from the many but the few. In actual fact, aiming to be popular is bad for you, from a health and happiness perspective!
A practical toolkit
‘Busy’ takes great new psychological research and applies it, practically to the challenges we face in the modern world, to provide a new set of tools, a new set of skills for responding to too much; practical strategies that will help you thrive no matter how full your inbox is!
L&MB Magazine 6 - Q2, 2016
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