Is Being Busy a Good Thing?

by Yen Uy


[photo credits] Photo by Rodnae Productions on Pexels

I don’t have enough time for myself. I am too busy to work on my goals. Every time I hear these words uttered during a coaching conversation, I use the Eisenhower Matrix to help my clients see where their time goes. There’s an "aha" moment for each client every single time.

I first learned about this tool in Stephen Covey’s book: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and I’ve been a fan of it ever since. We all have many things going on in our lives and if we are not intentional with how we spend our finite time, life feels overwhelming. I’m not going to discuss the tool here, but you can learn more about the Eisenhower Matrix by clicking here.

The fundamental genius of this tool lies in the definition of "important". Important is what is most valuable and contributory to your long-term goals and life values. As soon as I give this definition to my clients, they get their first "aha" moment. Because, yes, we’re going to give a lot of weight to what’s important to you in the long term and separate those activities that just fill up your schedule. Once we map out which tasks belong to which quadrant, Q2 (not urgent/important) has the least activities, while in many cases, a lot of tasks fall into Q3 (urgent/not important). Once the client visually sees where their time goes, there’s the second "aha" moment.

We want to live mostly in Q2, where we take action towards our long-term goals. To do that, we need to schedule time for these things, such as exercising and spending quality time with family. It’s easier said than done, especially when we spend a lot of time in Q3.

Activities in Q3 are those that keep us busy, but can be delegated to others because they are not important to our long-term goals, but have consequences if not accomplished on time. We don’t really need to do the tasks ourselves, even if we think we need to. But when it’s not done right or not done the way we want, trouble ensues. So, if we want to accomplish more of our long-term goals, we need to be masters of delegation. Delegation has two components: the people in our system and the system itself.

You need to surround yourself with people you can trust and rely on. You must also be willing to let go. Yes, you read that right--and I know there's a little part of you that said "ouch"! But even if you think you can do the task better and faster, it’s really about multiplying/cloning yourself, so to speak. It’s about investing time in teaching others believing that, with feedback and practice, they can do the task just as good as you, and eventually, even better.

You need to have a system for the repetitive things in your life. To be able to schedule and do Q2 tasks, you must have a good system for running Q3 tasks. What’s your system for grocery shopping/meal planning, for keeping the house clean, and for being on top of work updates? When you have effective systems in place, you get to create more time for what is important.

Is being busy a good thing? I believe it’s more about being intentional with how you spend your time. Imagine having all the time you need, being able to do what you want to do, while having mundane tasks done well and on time. Yes, it’s possible and you can do it!