Too Busy?

Six ways to get things done when you have too much to do.

  • Marilyn Tam, global speaker, best selling author (The Happiness Choice), business leader and humanitarian. Formerly the CEO of Aveda, President Reebok, VP Nike

As a middle child and a girl in a male favoring family, I used to believe that if I did more, I would be accepted and loved. Being overextended and busy was a regular state. I never got more love from trying harder, but I’ve learned how to manage heavy time demands well. This skill has helped me balance my hectic business and personal life. There is a reward for the years of relentless striving.

In the 21st century it seems like everyone has too much to do. It’s actually fashionable in some circles to be able to claim that you are overwhelmingly busy. But is it productive? Does it make you happy? How we deal with the demands and the distractions effectively is the key to success and happiness. Relax, you can get what you need to get done, done. How?

1. By relaxing. When we are too anxious and tense with pressing deadlines, it is easy to get bound up in details. Take a little time to give the mind, space to integrate and process the priorities and you will be more able to indentify and handle the most important things first. A short 10 or 15 minutes of quiet time or meditation will realign the brain to a more centered and focused space.

2. Do something physical — a short walk, jumping jacks, tai chi, or squats for example changes your frame of reference. A few minutes of acknowledging that we also have a body instead of just a head will shift our attention and perspective. New ideas and energy will start flowing again, refreshing us and helping us to work more creatively.

3. Reflect on your priorities. Are you busy just doing instead of taking time to sort out what is important instead of urgent? The same 24 hours we have each day can be allocated to different things. It is up to us to decide which ones are more crucial to accomplish and to do them first.

4. Ask for help. Forget the martyr complex. Drop the “only you can do it” belief. Engage others in the task and find ways to make the work meaningful for them too. Will you help them in another project in return? How can their supporting you help them in the bigger picture? Establish common ground so that others choose to assist you.

5. Say no. Sometimes what is asked of you cannot or should not be done by you. You may have other priorities or someone is better suited to doing the task or it could be that you just have little interest/reason to doing it. When you determine that is the case, explain why you are suggesting someone else do the work, or gracefully say no to the request(s) depending on the situation.

6. Focus. Minimize multitasking. Our minds are not capable of multitasking no matter how efficient the concept may seem to be. The human mind just switches back and forth quickly between the tasks, and ultimately all of them will be done less effectively than if we gave full attention to each item at a time.

Mozart, Michelangelo, Grandma Moses. Mozart created a lasting legacy living a short 35 years. Michelangelo lived 88 years and left a memorable body of work for the ages. Grandma Moses started painting at age 78 and lived to 101. She didn’t even start painting seriously until many years past the age most people would have retired. The message is: you can use the time you have to fulfill your life purpose. Allocate the time you have each day to doing what is important for you. Now get busy.

My best selling book, The Happiness Choice, the 5 decisions that will take you from where you are to where you want to be http://www.marilyntam.com/books.html was written to help you define what is most important for you