Do you keep a ‘to do’ list?

If so, there’s a pretty good chance that you enjoy checking items off of your ‘to do’ list?

In fact, you may even suffer from a certain disorder (I know that I suffer from it) that causes you to add things you’ve already done to your ‘to do’ list so you can check them off.

Tracking activities and marking items off of your list are great habits. However, you need to watch out for the “Busyness Trap”. This trap is where you become addicted to being busy and miss the chance to strive for significance.

Have you fallen into the ‘Busyness Trap”?  Perhaps you can relate to one of these scenarios. If so, your busyness alarm should be going off:

  • Your driving home after a long week at work and think to yourself, I was really busy this week, but what did I accomplish that truly mattered?
  • You are burned out from the tremendous amount of energy it takes just to get through the day. The work is keeping you busy, but it isn’t relighting or refueling your fire.
  • You catch yourself talking a lot about what you are working on, but struggle to identify key things that you have taken over the finish line. Perhaps the line keeps moving…

Busyness can be costly. It consumes time, energy, and motivation with little concern over how these resources are expended. It also steals your ability to invest in four key areas:

1.  Invest in Pondering

Sometimes you need to stop and put things into perspective. Find a quiet spot and take time to reflect on an issue, project, or goal. Ask yourself questions like

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What do we really hope to achieve?
  • What type of leader do I want to be?

2.  Invest in Scuba Diving

When you are constantly busy, you often stay at the surface and waterski over issues. You may occasionally go deeper and snorkel, but you never take the time to really scuba dive on an issue. So, you keep addressing symptoms instead of root causes.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • When is the last time you took the time to scuba dive on an issue?
  • Is there something that keeps resurfacing on your team that you should invest time in problem-solving?
  • What’s the long-term impact of constantly waterskiing?

3.  Invest in Planning

Putting out fires all the time makes it really difficult to invest in planning. However, one of the reasons you may be constantly putting out fires is because you aren’t spending enough time planning. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you spending the appropriate amount of time planning things as opposed to doing them?
  • Have you invested too much time fixing issues that could have been avoided in the first place?
  • How good is your team at planning?

4.  Invest in Relationships

When you are busy, relationships often suffer. You may intend to connect with an employee, but you just “can’t” find the time. At some point, the inability to connect erupts into a situation that could have been avoided. Ask yourself these questions:

  • When was the last time you connected with your people?
  • Is there a relationship that you’ve ignored that you should tend to?
  • What’s your next chance to connect with someone?

 

If you have fallen into the “Busyness Trap”, here are four things you can do today to get yourself moving in the right direction:

  1. Kill 2-3 items on your current ‘to do’ list. Don’t delay them; cancel them.
  2. Don’t fill the space of the 2-3 dead items with more busyness. Instead block the time to invest in one of the four items above. Don’t be general; name it and schedule it.
  3. Hold yourself accountable to do it when you schedule it.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3.

 

This article was originally published on Linked in at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/smart-leaders-make-4-wise-investments-patrick-leddin-ph-d-pmp