Did my colleague Brenna enjoy the conference? I should send a chat message to ask her now.
I was just out of town last weekend but maybe I should hit the road this Friday, too. I’m going to search for last-minute deals.
I just overheard a colleague mention an issue with a project where I might be able to help. I’ll walk over to offer my suggestions.
Sound familiar? None of these thoughts or actions is wrong in and of itself. But if your entire day is filled with this type of self-generated busyness, there’s a problem.
Self-generated busyness can crowd out the important things we need to do in our personal and professional lives. Allowing yourself to be “too busy” can keep you from actually getting things done. As a time management coach, I have found that the only way to get where you want to in life is to stop the self-created swirl of unnecessary tasks.
Letting go of distraction can feel difficult at first because it requires courage and determination. But ultimately, it’s one of the most satisfying and constructive things you can do for your personal life and for your career. Here are five busyness barriers that can hold you back from being productive and how to overcome them.
Keeping up with everything
Today it’s possible to distract yourself 24/7 with a flow of information that never stops and never ends. There’s always more social media, news, movies, and TV to consume.
At work, this could look like incessantly checking LinkedIn, congratulating everyone in your network of thousands on their work anniversaries, or reading every article that pops up related to your industry. Outside of work, this could look like binging social media, news, and Netflix facilitated by an infinite stream of input.
Relaxing with screens isn’t an issue for most people. But if these activities consume hours every day, it’s very likely that you’re generating unnecessary busyness.
Consider deciding which social media or news sources are most meaningful to you. For example, I’m not on Instagram, but I am on LinkedIn. And then decide how much of your time these platforms deserve. Set a limit on your media consumption depending on your true needs. This can range from checking certain apps for 30 minutes a day to potentially only checking them once a week.
In my experience, I’ve found less tends to be a lot more. When you set limits, remind yourself that it is impossible to keep up with the onslaught of information and you deserve to prioritize what is truly important.
Thinking of new ideas—and never seeing them through
Innovation is a good thing. But if every time you sit down to work on a current project, your mind suddenly flits to something else that you could dream up and you follow your fancy, there’s a problem.
Coming up with an idea is typically only a small part of the productivity equation. Seeing things through to the end is what generates results.
For example, in your professional life, maybe you’re halfway through implementing a new CRM system. Or in your personal life, you’re a third of the way through reorganizing your closet. In those situations, you may need to brainstorm less, and execute more.
At work, that could mean implementing the new CRM system that you’re already working on—not starting to do internet searches for an entirely new tool and starting from scratch. And at home, that could mean getting the proper shelving in place and getting your clothes off the floor instead of beginning to scroll through Instagram for bathroom pedestal sink ideas.
When you notice the temptation to avoid the already started for the not yet begun, give yourself permission to write down the idea for future reference and then redirect your attention to the task at hand. If that’s exceptionally hard for you, you may even want to consider app or website blockers such as freedom.to, which you can turn on to keep you focused on the project at hand instead of running down other rabbit holes.
Read the rest of my article on Fast Company to discover solutions to the other three busyness barriers of non-stop socializing, excessive travel, and taking on too many responsibilities: Busyness Barriers That Hold You Back From Being Productive
You don’t need to sabotage yourself anymore. You can be a success.
About Real Life E
Elizabeth Grace Saunders-Lukasik is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She was named one of the World’s Top 30 Time Management Professionals by Global Gurus. The Christian division of her company focuses on a God-centered approach to time management through Divine Time Management.
McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. FaithWords published her third book Divine Time Management: The Joy of Trusting in God’s Loving Plans for You. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Harvard Business Review and Fast Company and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.