Are You Too Busy To Be Great?

You’ve seen the cultural obsession with being busy: people who greet one another with “How are you?” “Sooooooo busy!” Or texts that read “Sorry I never got back to you, I’ve been slammed.” We equate busy with being important, so we flaunt our busy-ness like a badge of honor.


But all that busy could be getting in the way of something truly important.


When we’re so overwhelmed, we may be missing opportunities for excellence. It’s difficult to do our best work when we’re stressed out and busy. If you want to be truly great – at your job, parenting, being a friend, your hobbies, anything – it pays to be less busy and more focused. Here’s why…


This Is Your Brain On Stress


When you get stressed out, your brain floods your body with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Those hormones are great if you’re in battle or fleeing from a predator, but they aren’t so great if you’re just sitting at your desk.


With adrenaline and cortisol flooding through your system, you aren’t very good at higher-order decision making or critical thinking. Unless your career is prehistoric hunter, you probably need higher-order decision-making and critical thinking at your job. When you are busy and stressed, you aren’t capable of making smart decisions, or doing very good work. You may think “I’ll just push through and get this project done, so then I’ll be less stressed.” But if you do a mediocre job, that’s not great for your future career prospects, is it? To be at your smartest and best, get the stress under control.


Are You Even Aiming?


My friend Ruben knew a lot about getting what he wanted in life. Diagnosed with cancer in college, the doctors tried every known cure but couldn’t make his tumor go away. When I met him, he had lived with his cancer for 8 years. With the threat of cancer hanging over his head all that time, he didn’t have your typical 50 item list of priorities he wanted to accomplish in life. He only wanted one thing: to fall in love and get married. Spoiler alert: he did it!


Truly great people aren’t just busy. They’re focused.

Ruben knew something smart: you only hit what you’re aiming for. So often in life, we spend our time, energy and focus on little things, then we’re frustrated when we don’t get the big things we claim we truly desired. But we weren’t working toward them! You can’t aim at 45 different targets at the same time. Do you know what you’re aiming for? Is it what you really want? Or are you spending your precious time on busy work?


Spend time thinking about what motivates you in the “big buckets” of your life: your family, career, etc. If you find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated by a massive To Do List, do what I do! I threw out my regular list and created something for myself called “The Time Targeter,” where I can organize my To Dos based on what’s really important, not just urgent. The Time Targeter helps me fit more into my day without feeling more stressed.


Click here if you’d like a blank copy of the Time Targeter and a free guide to get started using it.


Whatever you do, don’t forget to aim in the right direction.


We may equate busy-ness with importance, but truly great people aren’t just busy. They’re focused. They spend their energy where it matters most. When you’re scattered, stressed, and filled with adrenaline and cortisol, you’ll never reach your full potential. To join the ranks of the truly great, don’t just do more. Do more of what matters.