Opinion | Busy is the new black, but does it need to be?

BETTER WAY: Brad Ferguson warns that disorganisation can create a type of chaos that people not only mistake for busy-ness, but also become addicted to.
BETTER WAY: Brad Ferguson warns that disorganisation can create a type of chaos that people not only mistake for busy-ness, but also become addicted to.

It seems whenever we ask someone how they have been lately they respond with “busy”, “flat out” or “it’s been crazy”. 

I am not sure when the phenomenon started, but over time we have certainly been conditioned to think that we need to be busy – and if we are not busy, there must be something wrong with our business or us as people. 

Sure, a lot of the people who respond in this manner are indeed busy. But I would also argue that a good portion are also disorganised.

This creates a form of chaos in their lives that they not only mistake for busy-ness, but also become addicted to. 

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to spend time with some great leaders, and not one ever seemed short of time. They were relaxed, engaged in the moment and in control. They spoke of time management, prioritisation and a not to-do list.

This is not to say there are not people out there who thrive on the chaos, but my observation is that this is the exception rather than the rule. And for those who exist in this space and are not thriving, the experience can be very stressful. 

Being organised can take away some of this stress, allow us to be spontaneous and allow time for things to go wrong – as they often do.

As leaders, we would surely inspire more people if we are able to operate with time and efficiency, rather than hopping from one spot fire to the next. Why would someone starting out in the workforce look at their leader stressing out and blowing up because their operation was so hectic and think “I hope I am like that someday”. 

The key to this is being able to take control of our diary/calendar before empowering the people around us to contribute in such a manner that we all benefit. Some key attributes that ensure smooth operation include: 

Being organised can take away some of this stress, allow us to be spontaneous and allow time for things to go wrong.

  • Always start the day, week, month, quarter and year with clear outcomes in mind. What are we here for, what is our purpose in all this? 
  • Finish each day with a to-do list for the next day. Then complete all the tasks
  • Make appointments in advance to provide enough time to be properly prepared. If we need people to help us, give them the tools and time they need
  • Start a not to do list. How is our time best utilised? Where do we add most value? If we are not spending enough time doing this, delegate other tasks. We cannot be good at everything, so we need people to complement our skill set
  • Be on time. If we start our first appointment or task late, we will be late for everything else

Brad Ferguson is the managing director at the Newcastle office of Bell Partners.