I hear this all of the time...
- I’m so busy I can’t work on my business.
- I’m so busy I can’t meet with you.
- I’m so busy why can’t you just do it for me.
- I’m so busy I forget to eat... can’t take a vacation... and don’t get any sleep.
Today I’m calling BS on this kind of busy. It’s not productive. It’s unfocused. And quite frankly it’s actually very foolish. Why? Because it is a mindset that says the only thing that matters is doing tasks. And if that is your mentality, then you will not have the kind of success you crave by working yourself into burnout. And you will regret that you didn’t take care of yourself, you lost touch with your friends, and your family will resent your work. That’s not a full life.
To get over the hustle... the I’m so busy... you have to prioritize, and focus on the tasks that matter each week.
Start with Annual / Semi-Annual Goal Setting with High Level Action Plans
I know you have some goals you would like to achieve this year. They really don't have to be elaborate.....just a few simple statements that give your year / half year a focus and a purpose. You can check out mine in this blog post:
When you set your goals....go ahead and write down all of the high-level tasks that need to be done to achieve the goal. This is where you brainstorm, and maybe research, what it will take to achieve your goals. Make sure you understand the order of the tasks and how long you think each one will take. This is your action plan to achieve your goals.
NOTE: I track this in Asana, a great project management system that provides a centralized, organized way of tracking goals, processes, tasks with assignment of responsibilities and deadlines. I have a board where I store and track my goals with plans.... which you can get access to here:
You can do this in Trello as well, or on a google doc, what ever you are most comfortable with.
Each Week Prioritize and Schedule
I start my week off with 30 minutes to an hour of planning on Monday mornings at 9am. You can do this at the end of that day on Friday or Sunday evening so you can hit the ground running on Monday. Whatever makes sense for your own work habits.
Here are the tasks I do to plan my week:
- Select the 1-3 high level topics / goals to focus on that week ... This may include client work and work to accomplish an annual goal. I write these in the top space of the week in my paper planner.
- Assign 2-3 tasks to each day of your week, depending on other things that are already scheduled.
- Assign the prioritized tasks to a time block. I always work in a lunch.... and I typically work from 9/9:30am to 3/4pm.
- Make adjustments as needed each day. Sometimes things come up or tasks take longer than you think and you need to adjust.
- Review your progress on the last day you work each week.... this is a great way to celebrate your accomplishments each week and recognize your progress.
Here's a free tool for you to use to do this productivity planning every week for yourself:
I personally use a Weekly Planner.... and here's what a typical week looks like for me:
BONUS - Don't Do Social Media and Emails All Day
Don't focus on daily tasks like responding to email and social media. These should be assigned to their own blocks of time each day....not intermingled throughout your day....for more on this and other productivity tips see the following blog post:
Personally I don't even acknowledge them on my weekly schedule at all. I always post to social media and do emails while I am drinking mu chai lattes before I officially start my focused work. I also interact on social media and do a few more emails during lunch, and more social in the evenings. I like it to slot into downtimes, especially when I am sitting on the bleachers during my daughter's volleyball practice or waiting outside school to pick up my kids. And I usually finish up my office hours with about 30 minutes of inbox management between 3 and 4pm.
Hope this helps give you a framework to say goodbye to the busy mindset, and really make headway on achieving those goals!