Nowadays, society values the idea of being busy. Unfortunately, being busy does not always mean you’re very productive. Those who want to know how to not be so busy are those who want to be productive and accomplish more.
Being “busy and productive does not always come together. If you’re productive, you work effectively (but not so busy as well).
In this post, I will briefly go over how our culture has grown more accustomed to “busyness”. Along with that, I will lay out some suggestions to avoid not being so busy.
What a “Busyness” culture entails
The busyness culture has become more apparent in recent years. The busier we are, the more people are supposed to assume we’re getting things done.
However, that’s not always the case. You can be busy, but doing tasks that don’t mean much to your work. Some common examples include checking email, scrolling through your phone, or even doodling at times.
I could go on and discuss more examples of busyness. But the point is that being busy does not always lead to the best outcomes. Instead, it can cause us to do things that do not move the needle forward.
How to not be so busy
More often than not, society continues to go down a culture of being “busy”. It doesn’t have to be that. The following suggestions may help with avoiding busyness altogether.
- Do Absolutely Nothing For 5-10 Minutes Daily
- Put Your Phone Away
- Make A Simple To-Do List
- Do One Thing At A Time
- Schedule Downtime
- Separate Personal Things From Work
- Know When To Say “No”
Do absolutely nothing for 5-10 minutes daily
That may sound odd, but doing nothing for several minutes a day is not that bad. It seems that we’re living in a time when people need to be doing something every minute.
For example, if you have nothing to do for a few minutes, you may be tempted to check your phone. A lot of people will turn to their phones if they have some downtime (or feel bored).
But I would argue it’s best to just sit quietly and not do anything. Sometimes, it’s best to be mindful of your surroundings and make note of it. Staying present in the present moment is fine.
I tend to do that almost every single day. It’s a way to feel calm and at peace, which can benefit your mental health.
Put your phone away
Unfortunately, many people are glued to their phones most of the time. Don’t get me wrong- I think cell phones (i.e. iPhones) are great tools to do creative things.
But, I think they act more as productivity killers. A lot of people use their phones to mindlessly do unnecessary things; for example, scroll through Facebook or Instagram.
Instead, challenge yourself to put your phone in another area. Lock it up in a drawer, or put it in another room when you need to stay focused.
It may be hard to do. But even doing that for three-four hours a day can help you stay focused and get so much done. You would be surprised to see how much you can get done in a short amount of time.
Make a simple to-do list
When it comes to making to-do lists, a lot of people will make a large laundry list of things to do on a given day. It may be ten or more tasks that they plan on doing, but they don’t finish all of them.
I used to be someone who makes those giant to-do lists, but I’ve boiled it down in the last few years. My list will usually be shorter and more manageable.
A simple to-do list may be just writing down a few tasks to do each day. For instance, I narrow my list down to my top three priorities. So I ask myself:
- What are one-three things I need to get done today? Will these tasks move the needle forward in my business?
If you break it down like that, it will be much easier to get through your to-do list. Whatever else you need to get done, maybe you can work on those after getting your priorities done.
Do one thing at a time
I know it may not be the most exciting thing to do, but doing one thing at a time can help a lot. Whether it’s a small or big task, you have to focus on just doing that one task only.
Many people will turn to multitask; however, I’m not the biggest fan of it because it may slow you down more. Multitasking might sound more time-efficient, but in reality, it can be a productivity killer if you do it often.
It’s why I’m against multitasking altogether, and I don’t recommend practicing it. So focus on doing one task at a time, as it’ll make your work much more effective.
It’s not often we discuss it, but setting aside downtime is vital to rejuvenate. Even if it’s for 10-15 minutes a day, that still helps for getting some relaxation time in.
What you do during your downtime is up to you. My favorite activities include meditation, reading, and journaling.
Separate personal things from work
Separating your personal life from your work can help you establish boundaries between the two. If you cannot do that, it can make life a little more challenging.
Even something as simple as clearing up your home office can help set those boundaries. Mixing work and personal documents may not be a good idea.
A relevant article from notimekillers.com
Read next on “Why is time management important in business? 11 reasons”, and understand why time can be your best resource when managing your day-to-day business activities.
Know when to say “No”
You can’t do everything when it comes to keeping busy. So when it comes to taking on more responsibilities, you can’t always say yes to everything.
That is when you’ll need to get used to saying “No” to some things. Especially if your workload is heavy, you won’t be able to take on more work than you can.
I think it’s important to set those boundaries early on. If you struggle with saying no all the time, it’ll be harder to focus on your top priorities.
Saying “no” can help a lot with avoiding that busyness factor. If you can say “no” more often, then most likely you’ll have more time to do the things that matter the most.
As I mentioned before, being “busy” does not always equate to being super productive. Sometimes, that can be the opposite where we’re not quite as effective.
The tips laid out earlier can help avoid being in that busyness culture. I’ve never been a fan of that culture myself, and it’s something we should try to avoid whenever possible.
With that, it’s time to stop being so busy. Why not do something more meaningful with your time?
Your Turn: Are you someone who stays “busy” all the time?
I would like to get your thoughts on this topic. Do you think staying busy helps with getting more done?
Or, are you like me who thinks it does more of the opposite? What are some ways you avoid not being busy all the time?
Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.
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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.
2 thoughts on “How To Not Be So Busy: 7 Suggestions To Avoid “Busyness””
This one is a great article covering a topic that I find relevant to most business environments, especially the corporate world. Everyone is always saying that they are ‘busy’.
It seems to be the standard reply to how are you? I find myself saying that as well and have made a conscious effort to stop saying it.
Your 7 points are spot on: My favorites are ‘do absolutely nothing for 5-10 minutes’ and simplifying your to-do list. I use to make long lists of things that needed to be done but now I am focusing on a few items that are mission-critical.
Once these are done I add items. Thanks for your insight and I will be bookmarking this site.
The concept of “busyness” stands true in the corporate world, or in any type of business environment. When people say they’re “busy”, they likely are not.
It’s good you’re making an effort at not doing that- in a mindful manner. I think we need to stop and think before we quickly respond to “I’m busy- can’t do that right now”.
What you’re doing right now is a great starting point, especially for anyone struggling with never-ending to-do lists. So you seem to be on the right track.
Thank you very much for sharing your own insights- I greatly appreciate what you had to say.