That Will Cost You!
4 Ways Being Too Busy Costs You and Your Business
It is 2 in the afternoon. I’m tired. I can’t focus. There are still important things that I need to get done. They are going to end up getting pushed off until tomorrow when I can give them the attention they deserve. Again. We are all busy. Most of us are too busy – and some of us wear it as a badge of honor. But what does being too busy really cost us? And what is it costing the people and projects we manage?
Here are four ways being too busy costs us too much:
Why didn’t we…? Since you may be too busy to even read all four we’ll start with the biggest cost. There you are running through your day, knocking projects off your list, attending meetings, and dialing into conference calls. Your week is jam-packed fighting fires and keeping things moving. But while you have your head down, there they go – missed opportunities – whoosh. We get so focused on fitting it all in we let great opportunities slip by. ‘Why didn’t I ask about his new project?’ ‘Why didn’t I ask for her testimonial or referral?’ ‘Why didn’t we take him to lunch after the meeting?’ Look over your calendar, lists, and notes for last week and you’ll find at least several ‘why didn’t we’ opportunities that were missed.
Kill it before it breeds. A minor but important issue crops up…you receive an email from IT requesting you download a security patch, your spouse’s tire looks a little low on air, but you are too busy to deal with it right now. If your week is too packed with louder priorities, these get pushed down the list. They would only take a little while to address but…not today. Two weeks later your laptop seizes up because you didn’t install the IT update. Your spouse calls for you to come pick up the kids because they are in a parking lot with a flat tire and will be late for soccer practice. Now the minor issue has morphed into a mini-emergency, requiring way more of your time and attention than if it had been addressed in the first place. Now that it takes more time it bumps some other task off the list for the day as well. Being too busy causes even more busyness…kill it before it breeds.
Some thing versus the right thing. We are so pressed for time and want to move someone or something forward. We get so focused on making progress, on making something happen, that we lose focus of making the right thing happen. We’ve all been there – we’ve hit a wall with a challenging individual or run out of time so we try to go around or short cut to get to the end result. Just so we can cross it off our list. But it does not go unnoticed. Our clients, coworkers, and family feel it. The costs of doing some thing instead of the right thing include harming hard earned relationships and setting unspoken (bad) examples for those we work with. When we are too busy to do the right thing we are ripping up as much track as we are laying down.
Full day, empty tank (or the NASCAR effect). When we are too busy we feel like we are making progress because there is motion. We are jamming through a full day from the time we get up until we collapse on the sofa with an empty tank. Busyness is addictive because it makes us feel important and needed. It makes us feel productive, like we are adding value. But all that activity masks that we really are not moving forward on our biggest goals – we are just driving in circles burning gas. It keeps us from slowing down and making time to identify where we are trying to go (our goals and objectives).
In the last month, what is the ratio of hours spent focused on where you are going versus hours spent trying to get there? If the ratio is less than 1:50… what, exactly, are we busy doing? Where are we really trying to take the assignment, the project, the relationship? Doing too much costs us the time we could be spending determining what we should be doing.
Being too busy costs you and your people too much whether it be from missed opportunities, not having time to keep small issues from growing into big problems, sacrificing the right thing to just get some thing done, or not being able to make time to focus on what all the activity is actually for.
The world isn’t going to slow down for us. But by being aware of how costly being too busy is, we can start to regain command of our time and attention. What should you stop doing? Who is really in charge of your time? Reserve an hour this week to do nothing. Computer closed, phone and tablet off, TV off, radio off. Stare at the wall and see what great discoveries come bubbling to the surface…when you aren’t too busy.
By Jonathan Walters with Crux Consulting Inc.
Crux Consulting is an independent consulting firm providing practical growth and success tools for general contractors and subcontractors in the construction industry.