Does Busy-ness effect the health of your Business?

You know how it goes— quickly eating lunch whilst taking that last minute phone call, doing preparation for the meeting starting in 5 minutes, and at the same time thinking where you will be having dinner this evening.

Busyness Chasing PaperThis behaviour does nothing for your concentration, productivity … or indigestion.

It seems that the speed of technology has also had an effect on the speed in which we attempt to run our lives. It is so fast that activities are running into each other. But as human beings, not computers, our capabilities as “multi-tasking machines” is limited. Research has proven that your memory is considerably reduced by attempting to concentrate on more than one activity or stimulus at a time. Try it yourself—try to memorise a list of numbers or names whilst someone is talking to you about a separate topic.

Trying to be all things to all people at work is not a recipe for career success. On the contrary, continually worrying about schedules and deadlines and multiple projects only makes you rush. And rushing, as you’re bound to find out sooner or later, means more mistakes and lower quality work.

Many people complain that they just don’t have enough hours in the day to meet all the competing demands they face. But the problem is not so much one of time management as one of unrealistic expectations. These people have a bad case of ‘the shoulds’. Their entire focus is on what they should be doing or what they think other people believe they should be doing.

People with ‘busyness disorder’ typically:

  • rush
  • tackle up to 15 to 20 different projects at once
  • work more than 12 hours a day
  • work weekends
  • can’t say no
  • have appalling diets which lead to extremes in body weight

Most don’t even recognise they have a problem. They fail to see the connection between their behaviours and current or potential health problems.

How did we get here?
People plagued with ‘busyness disorder’ basically suffer from the effects of the modern world, with its combination of high technology, materialism and ‘profit at any cost’ mentality.

There is a high focus on achievement gained from external motivators such as salary, car, houses and possessions. But when you rely on external motivators alone you may not reach the happiness you are searching for and keep on striving for the next thing, not knowing that what you are looking for is right in front of you.

The “big picture” focus is a shift to internal motivators such as satisfying values and emotions, gaining a sense of confidence, fulfilment and self worth.

Getting off the merry-go-round
The way to take control of your life and rid yourself of busyness is to say no. There are also techniques such as that developed by US motivational expert Timothy Gallwey, who advises people against knee-jerk reactions to work demands. Gallwey’s STOP technique stands for:

  • Step back
  • Think
  • Organise
  • Proceed

The more you try to squeeze multiple activities in the same time/space, the less productive you will be. Some of you will say that this is easier said than done, and I would agree, but there is one straight-forward response that will go a long way toward keeping you focused on what is important, and give you the time to give each activity its full focus. That response is “No” or Not now”.

The bottom line is really about putting your desire for less ‘busyness’ into action. The real key is that you can read as many articles as you like and you can believe in the principles of change but until you take action it is meaningless.

Try this :

  • Ask yourself what’s the worse thing that can happen. Let go of the notion you must meet every single expectation and for everything to be perfect.
  • Learn to prioritise. Make lists and stick to them.
  • Lower your expectations. Accept that you have limitations and learn to live with them.
  • Focus on one thing at a time. Learn to value quality rather than quantity.
  • Pay attention to your health. Your body could be telling you to slow down.
  • Get professional help if ‘busyness’ is threatening your health.

Busy-ness is a direct result of not understanding our own limitations, and the time we have to allocate and is required by each task. Are you looking for success through doing more ? If so then you may find yourself slowing sinking into a position of fatigue, ineffectiveness and frustration.

Getting Noticed In Meetings

meeting.jpgEver had the feeling that you are invisible in meetings? Maybe you had something useful or important to contribute but the person chairing the meeting just seemed to see right through you. You are not alone.

Recently Lee Wilkinson from Communicate (a New Zealand based communications training consultancy) shared some great tips on Getting Your Share of Air Time in Meetings.

Lee shared tips for both during the meeting and in preparation, including 2 handy tips for getting noticed :

  1. Sit where the meeting leader has to see you!
  2. Speak up early on in the meeting, so that you register a presence. This doesn’t mean that you have to say something startlingly brilliant. You could just ask a question. Really, just say anything that will start your part in the communication.

Next time you are feeling that you’re not being heard in a meeting give these tips a try.

Unconscious Competence Could be Damaging Your Business

If you have done any leadership development you may have comes across the competence continuum that goes something like this –

Conscious and Unconscious Competence

We all seem to want to go reach that stage of Unconscious Competence, when we won’t have to think about what we are doing and the steps to take each time, so it “just happens”.

Learned tasks can drop out of mind. Can you drive and listen to the radio at the same time? Ever arrived at a destination and not known how you got there? Ever been on a conference call, or at a meeting, where you weren’t actively participating and still you managed to clear out your inbox? Some people would call this multi-tasking, others call it mindlessness.

As we repeat certain tasks over and over, on a regular basic, we get better at it. The individual steps of the task move out of our consciousness. Over time we assume that we can do the task even though we don’t know how to do it (try teaching your kids or someone else how to drive a manual car). Repetition (driving the car, typing, communication style, facial expressions …) can lead to mindlessness in almost any situation, in most organisations, and by the most competent experts.

Try this exercise in rhythm –

Q – What do we call the tree that grows from acorns?
A – Oak

Q – What do we call a funny story?
A – Joke

Q – What sounds does a frog make?
A – Croak

Q – What do we call the white of an egg?
A – Yolk (sic)???

Where is mindlessness effecting your organisations efficiency, safety or bottom line?

What Does it Mean to be a Competent Manager?

Competencies – it’s a term that is flung around very broadly in organisations these days. But what are the competencies that makes a good manager into today’s business environment?

In their comprehensive study and report on Competence at Work, Spence and Spencer identified the following generic competency model for managers. These competencies are listed in order of importance (from most to least).

• Impact and Influence
• Achievement Orientation
• Teamwork and Cooperation
• Analytical Thinking
• Initiative
• Developing Others
• Self-Confidence
• Directiveness/Assertiveness
• Information Seeking
• Team Leadership
• Conceptual Thinking

These competencies were in addition to the base requirements of organisational awareness, relationship building and expert/specialised knowledge.

It was shown that the best managers, from front-line through to senior executives, use well socialised impact and influence to improve the functional of the company.

Where would you rate your level of Impact and Influence within your organisation and externally with clients, partners and suppliers?

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