4 July 2019

Lawrence Jones MBE on stage - how to stop being busy and be effectiveI can’t, I am too busy.

How often have you said or heard that phrase at work or at home? In this day and age, “I am busy” has become a badge of honour but is it really something to be proud of?

I have to wonder how staying late, working all night and eating lunch at your desk became achievements to be proud of. I really don’t think are.

Being busy in this way often equates to being about to burnout. Busyness certainly doesn’t equate to productivity. Often believing and saying that you’re busy can lead to what researchers call ‘tunnelling’ – only being able to focus on immediate tasks which are usually the least vital jobs to complete.

Constantly being on the go and ticking things off your to-do list, doesn’t mean that you’re busy in a productive or effective way. You may be missing the most important thing you need to do that day.

It is not easy to break that cycle when you’re passionate about your role and driven to achieve more. However, when you pause and look at all of the opportunities that you’ve missed because you were too busy, you realise just how much more you could have achieved if you’d been less busy and more effective.

Busyness also inevitably has an impact on your home life, allowing work to spread into the time for leisure, friends and family.

So, when your to-do list becomes overwhelming, pause. Here are my tips to break the busyness cycle to become more effective in the time you have in the office.

Lunch away from your desk

No matter what you have on your list, take a moment away from your desk to switch off. Lunchtime is the perfect reminder to take a break. We are all tempted to sit at our desks and eat lunch there, while cracking on with whatever needs doing, but by 3pm, you’re burnt out. Instead, by taking a moment for yourself, you return to your desk refreshed, remotivated and able to have an effective afternoon.

Do the most important task first

Whether it is the job you want to complete the least or not, complete the most important task on your list as soon you log in for the day. It’s all too easy to become distracted by other, possibly easier or more enjoyable, tasks on your list and lose track of the time. Instead tick that off of your list first thing in the morning and no matter how your day runs away with you, you have achieved the essential tasks and that weight is off your shoulders.


Do you really need to complete that task first? What would have the greatest impact on the business? Take a moment to run through your task list to establish which the most important actions to complete that day are. Which are time-sensitive? For which are people relying on you? Which are most mission-critical?

Once you establish your priorities, you’re more easily able ensure that the tasks that you spend your time completing are the ones that have the most impact on the business overall.

What are your tips for not just being busy but being effective? Share yours in the comments below.

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