How often are you asked “How are you?” and you reply “Busy.” We make “busy” a state of being for ourselves. Or you are asked to take on a new task and have to say you are busy or take the task on knowing you don’t have time. We need to stop saying we are busy and fix it.
I am guilty of doing this. It makes me feel bad when I say or feel I am busy because I feel that I am not in control of my time. I think that either I am wasting time on non-meaningful things or I am overbooking myself.
Some simple techniques I have found helpful to help get myself get less “busy”. I will share these with you so they can help you to get out of the feeling of busy.
Figuring out Where Time Goes
The first step to getting out of the “busy” state of being is to figure where you are spending your time. If you don’t know where the time goes you can’t solve the busy problem.
One way to do this is make a log of your typical day and record how much time you spend on every activity. If you have distractions that occur while you are working on tasks record those.
One thing to take note of is how much time we spend on screens. I have installed an app called Moment on my phone. It records how often I use my phone, and has a feature where it can record how long you use each app. This feature is useful because some apps and phone usage is productive for me. With this app I can see how much time I spend on productive and non productive on my phone.
Since I started using this app I found I spend 2-3 hours a day on my phone. Most time is spent playing games while I ride public transit or when I need a break. As you can see I have identified a spot where I can reclaim time.
Besides phone usage TV usage tends to be high among Americans. The average American spends over 4 hours a day watching TV. So make sure to monitor your screen usage.
These are good places to start to see where your time goes, but make sure to check everything. Maybe you are taking hour long showers or spend 2 hours cooking dinner every night. There may be spots where you are using an excess of time.
After you know where your time is going you need to eliminate or reduce activities not important to you. A couple ways I have found effective for reducing.
- Throttle yourself – Setting time limits for how much time you will give an activity can work well. If you currently watch 3 hours of TV a night you can switch that to either one or two hours a night. With that simple elimination you would have gained 5-10 hours a week. Setting a timer when you start doing the activity you are trying to reduce will remind you when it is time to stop so you don’t get caught up in an activity.
- Carrot at the end of the stick – Another technique is delay the wasteful/fun activities until after the important activities. They will act as a reward for when you complete your important activity. If you can’t finish your important activity you don’t get your reward activity.
Sometimes you need to eliminate an activity. Either you are unable to throttle or reduce the activity. You are unable to control yourself and are unable to stop the activity you want to reduce. Being honest with yourself is key here. For myself I know if I start watching an addicting show I may not be able to stop watching it. I won’t start watching TV on the weekdays.
Because I don’t want to get to the end of the week and realize I didn’t get anything done because I couldn’t stop binge-watching Game of Thrones. On days when I am ahead of my goals for the week I will allow myself to watch TV.
You may need to prioritize what is important to you. Get rid of activities that are not important can free up time for meaningful activities. Take time to review all the activities you do and decide which ones you can get rid of.
It’s hard to say no to people. You are asked to do so many things every day and you want to make others happy. Remember though how valuable your time is and not to say yes to things that are not important to you. Being able to say no will help get rid of busyness.
I have been trying to get better at saying no to things. It can be difficult and you want to do it so you don’t hurt the person asking feelings. One way to do this is:
- Compliment the project or activity they are asking you to do.
- Explain you will not be able to the project the attention it needs.
- Thank them for thinking of you.
You have a bunch of activities you want to say yes to. If you say yes to all of them you will run out of time. A couple of rules to think about before saying yes to something.
- Is this activity a 8-10 on your yes scale. Meaning you should say no to anything that is 1-7 on your yes scale.
- Consider the consequences of saying no on your rating. If you tell your boss no there could be consequences.
In the end we need to remember that busy is not a state of being. There are ways to save our time and become unbusy. First by recognizing where your time is going and reducing or eliminating time wasters. Second we decide what we will say yes or no and to make sure to give the decision of taking on a task or activity seriously.
Author Bio: Ryan Snow is a software tester living in Chicago. In his spare time he enjoys playing sports, reading, and playing guitar. He is the founder of the blog randomstuffido.com.