Focus or Flurry – Too Busy

Non-stop from the moment you get up until it’s time to put your head on the pillow.  Personal and professional schedules often overlap.  You spend a good amount of time driving from location to location.  Sometimes you cut activities short in order to rush on to the next one.  When you are ready for bed you are totally exhausted and can’t seem to catch up on rest.

too busyYou probably know someone like this.  You may BE someone like this.  It is tell-tale symptoms of someone who is too busy.

There is nothing wrong with being busy.  Busy keeps us active and keeps us from wasting time focusing on the negatives of our lives.  It’s not being busy that is the issue, it’s HOW we are being busy.  Are we busy with things that are targeted or are we simply busy with activities?  Busyness that is not targeted and purpose-driven can lead to a distinct feeling of emptyness.  We are so busy that we must be getting somewhere, but why does it still feel incomplete.  Our busyness has no real meaning.  We spend our time in flurry.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”   Socrates

“It is not enough to be busy.  Even the ants do that.  The question is: what are we busy about?”
Henry David Thoreau

Not sure if you are one of those who are too busy?  Here are 7 signs that you are too busy:

  1. You are always surviving.  You can’t remember what open time on your calendar looked like or the last time you were ahead of schedule.
  2. Meals coincide or overlap with other events.  If you don’t have time to sit down and simply enjoy a little family meal time or quiet meal time, that’s definitely a sign.
  3. You tend to be tired even in the mornings.  You can get rest from all the flurry.
  4. You can’t remember the last time you read a book.
  5. You have interruptions to your interruptions.
  6. You cannot consistently set aside a time-frame for a specific activity, like exercise.
  7. You do not engage in intentional, daily growth

Focus or Flurry – Making the Change

We must make the transformation from being too busy to being productively busy.  We have to move from flurry to focus.  And it starts with the decision to do so.  You must resolve that you are tired of being tired, you are fed up with not getting where you want to be.  It doesn’t solve your problems, but it helps provide the resolve you are going to need to implement this.

Action Plan

Create calendar blocks.  Each block should be at least an hour preferably but certainly no less than 30 minutes each.  You won’t need to block every waking moment, you are simply trying to make sure that you set aside specific activity blocks.  You will protect these blocks ruthlessly, letting nothing short of real emergencies (spurting blood, sinkholes, hurricanes, earthquakes) get in the way.  You need these blocks labelled on your daily calendar:

  1. Spiritual Time.  I call this devotional time but you can call it what you want.  The point is you need daily time dedicated to developing your spiritual life.  This helps make everything else better, it is THAT critical.  Ideally, this is your first block of the day.  Get up earlier if need be to have time for it.  I find that’s what works best for me, before everyone else gets up to have my devotional time.  If you have kids, it’s even better to let them see you engaged in this daily as it also encourages them to develop the habit.
  2. Hard Time.  This block is set aside for doing things you know you need to do that day but avoid and postpone until it is too late to do them.  Set aside time for it and strictly do not allow yourself to do anything else during that time frame until the hard thing is done.
  3. Personal Growth Time.  A block designed for you to intentionally grow yourself.  Remember my 1% rule:  if you simply grow yourself intentionally by 1% a day you will see exponential results.
  4. Reading Time.  Do nothing but read.  Magazines or trade journals, books, white papers.  Do not spend this time on the newspaper or social media.  We want reading time that feeds us.
  5. Me Time.  A block where no one else but you is your concern.  Do whatever you want as long as it isn’t for someone else.  You need this for your sanity and balance.

Change of Mindset

Driving to a meeting this morning I was listening, as I usually do, to “Automobile University”.  If you haven’t done this, it’s a practice I highly recommend.  Instead of listening to local radio and hearing the same song five times in an hour or tuning in (bleah!) talk radio or the news, try instead taking advantage of that really nice CD player you have and pop in motivational stories or information.  I will alternately listen to audio with John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, and the CD that comes in every issue of Success Magazine.  This is especially great for those who don’t have the time to read constantly (that pretty much covers all of us).  Positive, inspirational, motivational, and informative.  Great way to start off!

Flight Path Change

plane-taking-off Anyway, I was listening to Zig Ziglar tell an old familiar story, which I’ll retell from my perspective.

I boarded a plane at Orlando International Airport that was bound for Seattle, Washington with no stops.  The plane took off and after being in the air for about a half hour, it was no longer heading directly for Seattle.  The earth rotates, winds blow, all kinds of physical forces work against the plane heading straight for Seattle.  Don’t know where we are going, but it ain’t Seattle.  

So the pilot, wise man that he is, turns the plane around and heads back to Orlando, lands and starts all over again.


Of course he doesn’t!  He and the co-pilot simply make navigational adjustments to re-direct the plane back towards Seattle in mid-flight.  It would be silly and waste of time to head back and start all over again.

That’s the story of you and me.  When we attempt to get somewhere in life and accomplish something a monkey wrench gets thrown into the works.  It is inevitable that things will not go according to plan.  Too many times, the way that a person will try to solve that problem is by tossing the whole plan out the window and making a new; starting all over again.  It tends to be either/or; a change in the plan doesn’t enter our mind.

Change Your Plan

change the path to get to your destinationStop!  Think!

It’s not necessarily the whole plan, just parts of it.  Sometimes even it’s not the plan at all, just outside forces that interfere and cause a problem.  Instead of throwing out the whole plan, just make adjustments.  Don’t change where you want to go, simply change the path you will follow to get there.  Keep yourself directed, don’t lose sight of where you want to be!  The rocky path in front of us can distract us, but you need tunnel vision so you don’t accept anything other than the goal you wish to accomplish.

Action Plan

  1. Take a look at your goals and think about one that recently had a setback.  Did you toss out the plan?  Have you made a new one or abandoned the goal altogether?
  2. Re-focus.  Do you still want that goal?  What can you do differently to get there?  Is there something you can try that no one has tried before?  This is especially good when conventional methods aren’t working.
  3. Take the first step NOW!  When we take an immediate action, no matter how small, we increase the likelihood of success.
Every one of us has a dream.   Believe it or not, this is mine.  Early on, I distinguished myself as a speaker and trainer.  I also developed a passion for how people who become leaders, how groups work together, and how people grow.  Combining those two into what I do now creates that perfect avenue for me.  Am I totally there?  No, but I am moving forward in that direction.
What about you?  What’s your dream?  What’s that thing you have always wanted to be or always wanted to do? What’s the thing that keeps you up at night with a vision of how things will be when you get there?  Even more to the point, what are doing to get there?  Do you have a plan in place?  bigstock-Businessman-showing-the-way-to-33703298
If you are like most people you are saying “Oh, yeah, I got it all right up here up in my head!”  Unfortunately, that almost never works.  You need to get it down on paper.  A plan on paper has a higher level of commitment to it that just keeping it in your mind doesn’t have.  In addition, putting your plan down in print (or web) gives you the opportunity to sort it out and arrange it.  Your plan has more than just an idea, it has structure and a timeline and deadlines.  Without that plan you are going to have a very hard time getting to where you want to go.  Yeah, you are special and maybe you are that one in a million that will actually do it; but do you want to risk your dream on the extremely remote chance that you might become successful without a written plan?
The funny, almost ironic thing about it is that you will likely not reach that goal following that plan precisely.  Things get in the way that make plans change.  Dwight D. Eisenhower once said “plans are useless, but planning is essential!”  So the plan changes, but your decision to get there never does.  So your plan is going to change, it’s going to evolve.  But it’s a start.  So, you have to get that plan down on paper (or on the computer).
So how do you get there?  How do you get that plan down on paper and get yourself that good start?  Start by thinking backwards.  Look forward to about 2-5 years from now.  Where do you want to be, what do you want be, what do you want to be doing?  Now backtrack from that.  Where should you be four years from now to be on track.  Three years from now?  Two years from now?  Within the next year?  Backtrack all the way.  And when you get down to a granular level, then you are looking at what you have to do on a weekly and daily basis to reach your goal.  John Maxwell says that your real success will be found in your daily activities.  Plan your daily activities to be working towards your goals and accept nothing less.  And that’s how you plan out your success.