Contributed December 13, 2021 Cheryl Viola, Executive Director/CEO, MBA
Have you ever described your workday as “Crazy busy”? “Crazy-busy” is a significant productivity issue; it drives disengagement, burnout, shrinking attention spans, poor decision-making, and creates a reactive mode instead of a well-thought-out intentional manner.
No matter how much you love what you do, balancing work, physical, mental, and emotional health is essential. I often feel like I am in an endless loop of busyness. We have seasons in our life when we’re super busy. We have careers, family, church, and volunteer commitments. The more work you do does not mean that you are more productive. I am just as guilty as the next person. I am an office, granted I have lovely volunteers who help, and I am known for arriving early, working through lunch, and staying late. Dr. Long, an ER doctor, shared in a TedTalk how to retrain our minds and reactions from crazy busy to ready mode.
Crazy Busy Mode means that you overreact to everything; you are constantly stressed and are in reaction mode. While in reaction mode, you are often unprepared. Whereas Ready Mode, the term used in the Emergency Rooms in hospitals, means that you prioritize by the degree of urgency. You plan for crazy and find ways to reduce your daily decisions. Tools to reduce “crazy” include planning, automating, organizing, and decreasing temptations for distractions.
The best antidote for crazy mode is to serve others. When we focus on someone else, put ourselves in their shoes, it helps you refocus and widens your perception.
Inc.com shared an article with a few things you can do to help you through the busy times:
1. Eliminate electronic distractions
Our society is connected; we have computers, laptops, phones, and every ping or text tone makes you want to stop and answer. We have an unconscious habit of rushing and creating false emergencies because people expect immediate answers. The constant interruptions render you more inefficient. Create a schedule on the time of day you return emails. Silence your notifications for social media and emails on your phone. You have the power to set the terms of engagement and be sure to follow your own rules.
I love the screentime report that Apple iPhone gives. The screen time report allows you to monitor how much screen time you have on your phone, and it will guide you to ways to reduce screen time. Right about now, some of you will be saying, “but I need to check social media all the time for my job.” Your job may require you to watch social media and respond quickly, but the one truth I have learned is that the world will not fall apart if you do not respond immediately. Instead, we are expected to react to each sound on the phone, which is not true.
2. Build in regular breaks
It is essential to step away to give your mind and your body a break. These mental breaks will help you refocus and allow for inspiration and creativity. Over the years, I have heard of a variety of techniques. Some people set a calendar alert on their computers to tell them it is time to get up and take a break. Others use an alarm. You can step away from your desk, visit a colleague, and step outside for fresh air. Building in these regular breaks will increase your productivity.
3. Prioritize your day
The key to being effective at work is organization. As Dr. Long explained in how to be in ‘Ready” mode, you need to prioritize your tasks so you can respond when there are emergencies. Permit yourself not to be perfect. We cannot control every situation. Although, in theory, we want things to go like clockwork, the one inconsistent is the human element. We are imperfect, and things come up all the time. Therefore, it would be best to permit yourself to make errors, learn from them, and not expect perfection. What can you take off your list?
4. Perfection is not necessary
Perfectionism is not healthy, and ultimately it gets in the way of progress. We need to pivot quickly, and perfectionism does not allow you to change and pivot. This does not mean that we accept sloppy work; it means that good is enough. I had an employee who sought perfection, and the cost of their perfection was missed deadlines, which resulted in reducing profits. In my experience, someone who seeks perfection is insecure and is seeking acceptance. As leaders, we need to help build them up and help them see that their best is good. We need to empower others that mistakes and errors are human and normal and provide growth opportunities.
Own the busy but stop calling it crazy. The key is balance.