Activity can be addictive. When you rush, so does adrenalin.
But what about when all that doing doesn’t spell progress? Maybe your team members notice that your results don’t measure up to all that effort. You find yourself making excuses instead of deadlines. Or maybe your mind and body start telling you it’s time to stop pushing and rushing, and you’re ignoring those important signals.
Don’t mistake activity for productivity. Here are some key questions to help you drill down to what makes the real difference to meaningful achievement.
1. Is your busyness a substitute for meaning? “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day,” wrote a New York Times essayist in describing ‘The Busy Trap.’ Anchor this thinking against your personal mission statement, and filter behavior that is not moving toward meaningful goals. Your personal mission statement gets at your essential beliefs and personal story, your true self and your best self.
2. Are you chasing clear goals—or just chasing? The most productive people move toward clearly defined benchmarks on the way to goals that fit in with their personal mission statement. Structure is so important, and the Wildly Important Goals and other hallmarks of Franklin Covey’s 4 Disciplines of Execution.
3. Can you trade excuses for accountability? Getting ahead of the busyness is key, and that’s where accountability comes in. Find a third party (it can even be time management software) to help you track where you spend your time and for what result. Take a hard look at how much wheel spinning is happening v. actually getting to where you need to go, so you can adjust.
4. How does your behavior align with your best story? Small moments of insecurity, if they build up over time, can threaten to cause a major negative outcome— such as job loss or adverse health event. Listen hard to the self-talk that accepts activity instead of demanding accomplishment. Claim a new story that requires you to have more productive rituals and behaviors.
5. What step can you take right now to reinvent your perspective? Your busyness won’t budge without a change in your thinking. Nothing/no one is going to come along and make it happen by magic. Small acts of meaningful work, over time, will make a big dent in all the current activity that means very little when all is said and done (or not done!)
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Become aware around your nonproductive behavior that fills time. By shortening the time and energy that goes into mindless distractions and noncritical activity, you will regain opportunities for meaningful work and restful leisure time. Use the resources that feel right for you: your personal mission statement, methods of accountability, positive self-talk, and more. (You’ll find even more pointers here.) There’s a real difference in there for you!
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach business people the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.