Seven traps that keep you busy and kill productivity

by MPA20 Aug 2013

Mortgage professionals are busy people. But there are some types of 'busy' that do nothing more than sap your time. Business consultant Emma Gray identifies seven kinds of bad busy - and shares how you can go from 'being busy' to getting things done.

Everyone’s busy, but that doesn’t always equate to being productive. Identifying which kind of busy you are – and implementing some simple changes to your approach – can help stop the cycle of going nowhere, fast.

‘Badge of honor’ Busy

You believe that being busy equals being significant. Keeping your schedule jam-packed makes you as important as everyone else – it’s how you create your worth.

This can be a trap for solo entrepreneurs, particularly if, early on, your feel you need to ‘justify’ your new business to VIPs, such as partners, friends or family. Don’t fall for it. Instead, stand back and ask ‘what is the purpose of this task?’ before taking it on. Be ruthless and only commit to activities that will propel your small business (or family) forward.

‘Nobody does this as well as I do’ Busy

“You believe that being busy equals being significant. Keeping your schedule jam-packed makes you as important as everyone else. ”

You’d like to cut things out of your schedule, but you’d probably end up doing them anyway, because nobody else does things ‘properly’. You believe you’re the only one who can complete everything to your exacting standards. One of your most-used phrases is ‘Here – let me do it!’

Delegating parts of your business is vital to success. If someone else can do it more easily than you, better than you or in a shorter time frame than you can, let them. Free your time for the aspects of your work and family that really matter.

‘Running away’ Busy

There is something big that you really should attend to: something tricky in your work or personal life that you’ve been avoiding. Instead of tackling what should be first on your list, you fill your diary with less necessary tasks so that you ‘don't have time’ to face the important stuff.  

It’s a trap! Stop running and start slashing through your top priorities.

‘Comfort zone’ Busy

You want to launch something ultra exciting in your business – but it’s a big step and you’re scared. What if it doesn’t work out?

Staying busy keeps you in your comfort zone and protects you from taking risks. The busier you are, the longer you’re ‘off the hook’ and safe from potential failure.

The discomfort zone is where the action happens. It’s where you’ll meet success. It’s where your competitors hang out... so go and get uncomfortable.

'People pleaser' Busy

You have a need to be liked. ‘Yes’ comes out of your mouth before you even consider an alternative response. What if you say ‘no’ and they don’t like you as much? What if there’s conflict? It’s easier and safer just to take the request on and say yes, you’ll do it, even if you’re exhausted.

Whether it’s business networking, advertising, ‘coffee chats’ or meetings with potential affiliates, business owners need to become savvy with the invitations they do and don’t accept. Be polite, honest and assertive in saying ‘this is not for me right now.’

‘Flapping’ Busy

You’re disorganized. You spend a huge amount of time looking for things that you’ve misplaced. You’re regularly late for appointments. You leave everything till the last minute. The first thing you do when you’re overwhelmed is write a Facebook status about it.

Your lack of organization creates chaos and manufactures extra work. It takes you much longer to accomplish things than it could, because you’re focused almost entirely on flapping.

What is one task that you can do today to move you further ahead than you are now? Starting small is preferable to not starting at all.

‘Scared to ask’ Busy

You feel like a fraud. You’re not sure you understand what you’re really doing. Rather than seek clarification from a mentor or friend, you go to enormous lengths to try to work it out yourself.

You’re scared of asking ‘silly questions’ and choose to complicate your life in an effort to avoid these. You’ll send emails rather than call, then waste time waiting for a response.

Time. Is. Money. Successful business people dive into vulnerability and splash around in it, asking silly question after silly question. So strip off and jump in!

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