This morning, I was thinking about the three vendors I am currently working with that have not sent any follow-up like they said they would. In the process of wondering why the heck they haven’t done what they said they would do. I am in the process of sending that email I told one of my clients I would send to them.
My guess is, I will receive an email from those vendors at some time today that says they were so busy and in the email will be what I need. Or, I will receive and email telling me that they have been so busy, and they will send it later today.
And the reason, I haven’t sent that email to my client?
“Because I was so busy!”
I have written on this topic before, because it is one that is near and dear to me. I guess because I have to protect myself against this very thing as well.
Ask anybody today how their day is going, or how things are going in general at work or in life. And my guess is 99% of the time they will say they are just so busy. As in sales though, the first question is only important to get the conversation going, it is the second and third question that are most important.
Ask the follow-up question of: ” “Busy, doing what?”
Their first reaction will be “how dare you ask me that.” You will either see it in their face. Or you will hear it when they start to respond.
I don’t know about you, but when is the last time you actually heard someone say they are so busy making someone else’s life better. Changing the company culture. Leading a major change at work. Innovating the next big idea that could transform their company. Or heard that they were working on the top three priorities of the company’s current year initiatives? Probably never.
I work with leaders and sales people every day and I never hear things such as the ones I mentioned above. Instead, I hear a bunch of small trivial things such as email, meetings, phone calls, and any other task that makes people feel busy, but these busy actions and tasks are the ones preventing them from doing the real work.
A few years ago, I read the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. I will be reading it again this weekend. Because I am just too busy to read it now. Haha. Plus I am traveling and it is at home on my book shelf.
In this book, the author talks about our habits and behaviors. He talks about how triggers that happen in our daily life causes certain behaviors in all of us. He goes in to detail that there we have cues or triggers in our life that force us into certain routines that we continue to follow over and over. Those routines become our behaviors in how we act and react based on these cues. These behaviors become the habit that is formed.
This weekend I was reminded of this concept. The person I was listening to was talking about the same concept as Duhigg does in his book.
They said it this way: They said that all of us know that we should do something and even can do something. Whatever it is. And when we have the opportunity to do what we should do or could do. Depending on what it is, if it is going to require more energy, time, or even effort then it is much easier for us to fall back on the things that are easy to do than to do this more difficult task. Instead of doing the difficult task, we will replace it with the easier task. Such as make the phone call, attend another meeting we shouldn’t attend, or run the report that nobody cares about.
I understand that there are meetings, reports, and other things at work that are required of us. But many times we use these things as excuses for not doing the real work, the work that pushes the company or department forward. We take the busy work instead of the hard work.
After reading Duhiggs book I had one of those aha moments.
At the time I was working really long hours. Not because it was required. I was just doing it. I could have left at a normal time. I was getting my job done. But instead I would stay a little bit later.
On top of it, when I would leave I would think about the stress of work and instead of going home and doing some physical activity or cooking a healthy dinner. I instead would stop and pick something up. I would then go home and eat the 2000 calorie count meal and go to bed and then do it all over again the next day.
After reading this book I learned the concept of triggers and cues. These triggers and cues I had in my head such as working late and the stress of work. Instead of saying I would stop and pick up the unhealthy meal, I instead said I would eat something smaller and would go home and run or walk instead.
I started controlling my behaviors that were being triggered and cued up by the long hours and stress. I stopped allowing the emotion of the moment to push me to keep doing this bad habit.
And this is what happens every single day. The people who say they are so busy, are allowing the triggers and cues of their life drive them to do a bunch of busy work, or this so-called busyness of life is being driven by the fact they are avoiding the bigger and more difficult tasks that they should be doing.
The first step to any change in life is to first become aware of what it is you are doing. I had to become aware of what was causing me to want to stop and pick up the unhealthy meal. Once I figured that out, I could then decide and replace that habit with another one that was better for me.
After you figure that out you then have to decide what are the important things you could do instead of what you have been doing. And then prioritize that list accordingly.
So this week when you go to respond to someone and tell them how busy you are. Ask yourself first. “Busy doing what?” If whatever you say wouldn’t even be noticed if you stopped doing it, then you have to wonder if it is really necessary that you continue to do it.
To your success and your future.