Ask a lot of people how they are, and they’ll shoot you a single word answer: Busy.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that’s a pet peeve of mine. I hate it when people tell me they’re busy.
What does that really accomplish in the first place? Nothing.
How does it help the person you’re talking to? Right, it doesn’t.
But deeper than my social aggravation is this issue: I’ve noticed that people who usually tell you they’re busy are often bad leaders.
Or flip that. Talk to highly effective leaders and you’ll notice they rarely tell you they’re busy.
In fact, some of the finest leaders I know almost never emit a sense of busyness or overwhelm, yet they’re often juggling 100x more responsibility and weight than the retired person who tells you they’re busier than when they used to work, or the leader of a small organization who is running around like a headless chicken.
So, why do busy leaders make bad leaders?
Here are five reasons bad leaders can’t get their time under control.Busy leaders make bad leaders. Click To Tweet
1. Busy Leaders Have No Plan
Busy leaders often lack a plan. There’s no structure to their day, or if there is, they don’t stick to it.
By contrast, highly productive and effective leaders have a plan and they stick to it.
If you find yourself too busy, ask yourself, what’s your plan not to be?
Can’t answer that?
That’s why you’re always so busy.If you find yourself too busy, ask yourself, what's your plan NOT to be? Click To Tweet
2. Busy Leaders Live in Reactive Mode
There are really only two ways to live life: reactively or proactively.
Proactive leaders make things happen. Reactive leaders merely respond to what’s happening.
The vast majority of people live reactively.
Reactive leaders often wait to see what happens and then respond accordingly, or they get diverted from crisis to crisis, issue to issue.
As a result, their most important tasks and responsibilities get pushed to the side.
Hours become days. Days become weeks. Weeks become years. And years become your legacy.
At the end of your life, you accomplished few significant things because all you did was react to what was happening around you.
Leaders who react to what’s happening rarely make things happen.Leaders who react to what's happening rarely make things happen. Click To Tweet
3. Busy Leaders Let Other People Control Their Time
If you listen closely to the vocabulary of a person who is always telling you that they’re busy, you’ll notice they say things like “I had to” or “I just had no choice.”
Which is exactly their problem.
No, you didn’t have to. Actually, you had a choice.
You could have laid in bed all day if you wanted to. You could have said no. You could have decided how you would spend your day.
You have plenty of choices.
But a busy person never sees that choice.
Constantly complaining that you have no time is a sure sign you let other people control it.Constantly complaining that you have no time is a sure sign you let other people control your time. Click To Tweet
4. Busy Leaders Don’t Tune Out Distractions
You know what every phone call is, as well as every email, every text message and every knock on the door?
It’s someone trying to superimpose their priorities on you.
I know that sounds harsh…but think about it.
You know you have to get certain priorities accomplished, but my guess is no one ever texts you to ask you whether it’s getting done.
Why is that?
Think about it. People never ask you to accomplish your priorities. They ask you to accomplish theirs.
That’s exactly why you text email and call people, isn’t it?
Effective leaders know how to tune out those minute-by-minute distractions. They check email periodically, not every minute. They silence their devices and focus.
Because no one asks you to accomplish your priorities. They only ask you to accomplish theirs. Effective leaders know that.No one asks you to accomplish your priorities. They only ask you to accomplish theirs. Click To Tweet
5. Busy Leaders Waste More Time Than They Admit
Busy people love to act like they have no choice and they’re oh-so-slammed.
Until you catch them binge watching Netflix, or lingering over an iced coffee checking Instagram, or talking for 30 minutes at a workmate’s desk about nothing in particular.
I’m not trying to be judgmental. I’m all for iced coffees and Instagram.
It’s just there’s a cognitive dissonance in many of us between what we believe and what’s true.
You have the time for what matters. After all, every leader gets the same 24 hours in a day.
You have the time to get the most important things done. You just didn’t make the time—you spent it doing something else.It's not that you don't have the time. You just chose not to make the time. Click To Tweet
The Antidote to Busy
So is there a way out of chronic busyness, unproductiveness and that dreaded feeling of overwhelm?
There definitely is.
A lot of people think the solution is a new attitude or a few quick tips.
I promise you it’s much deeper than that.
You need a new strategy.
And that’s why I wrote At Your Best: How to Get Your Time, Energy, & Priorities Working in Your Favor.