I was having a cup of coffee with a friend of mine. He was the CMD of an organization. One of the GM’s came to meet him about some crisis that had cropped up. They discussed it quickly and my friend told him, “You give this assignment to so and so!”. The GM said that the suggested person was very busy so he will give it to another person. But the boss told him to give such assignments to the busiest person. Busy persons are very organized and efficient hence will finish the assignment in a jiffy! Half an hour later the GM informed him that the issue was resolved. He said, “This fellow came up with a unique solution and everything is back to normal!”
It is always said that the busiest person has the maximum time with him. We should not take literal meaning of the statement. What it means is that the person who is busy is generally well organized. That person knows the importance of work-life balance. My classmate Hemant Nerurkar was MD of Tata Steel and was a very busy person. He and I used to keep in touch on phone a few times in a year. He handled it this way. Generally, I would call; he would pick the phone if possible but if he were busy, which was by default, whenever he got some free time, he would text a message to me, “Pramod, I will call you on Thursday, 7.30 pm if it is ok with you”. He would call 100% of the times on the day and time given. It was simple, he probably just put it in his calendar and be done with it! He had to be well organized with so much work to do; at the same time, he also understood the importance of “me time”.
Being busy is a state of mind. People do get busy and many times they get overloaded. Many people have a lot of work. The situation becomes complex in the case of modern families. Along with ladies, some men have also started taking home responsibilities. Office work, home chores, socializing, holidays can be a handful for everybody. But then that is modern life. We should learn to handle modern life and its pressures, things do get busy. But there are pitfalls in this situation. How can we avoid them?
Stop showing off
Some of us have the habit of showing how busy we are. But probably there are more people who are equally busy or busier. Showing off does not really help because only a few others are really concerned about you. Nobody is really bothered about your being busy. In your profession, you may be very good but there are equally competent people around. If you become famous for not being available, people simply stop coming to you. I know of a professional who used to go to foreign countries for a couple of months at a time for some assignments. Over a period, he reduced such assignments but his reputation had spread that he is not available most of the times. He took a few years to establish that he is readily available for consultations.
Prioritize the work but don’t procrastinate
Above two messages show the importance of not being too busy!
Everybody has a list of “To Do” things. Everybody makes his or her list as per their method. But we should remember what must be done and what may be done on that day. Everything cannot be in the must do list. In office situation there can be routine replies to communications; all are not must do! There are some things which can be done the next day but at the same time do not procrastinate and push things forward. In this list, there are some occasional events which are a must. We need to budget for these. For example, birthdays of colleagues. In some offices, birthdays are celebrated with a small get together. One must budget for these events. Never skip such events as these are absolute must-do events. At home, you have decided to do spring cleaning. But somehow on that day many other things have popped up and you cannot do it; your child may fall sick so going to the doctor is a must. Some guests arrive uninformed, they need to be attended to! Its ok do spring cleaning some other day. Don’t fret over not being able to do the spring cleaning. But mind you, cleaning has to be done at some stage. Don’t procrastinate!
Declog your schedules
Sometimes we make our schedules so complex that we are not able to give justice to any assignment or a chore. Our mind is clogged and this reduces our ability to think properly and we tend to make errors. Errors put more pressure on your time and our schedules are further clogged. There is, of course, a side effect, a lecture from the boss or the wife! Make sure that you keep sufficient time between events (sometimes it is not in our hands) so that you get a break from the hectic schedule as well as time to prepare for the next event.
Don’t give too much importance to being busy
Keep your life simple. Do your work seriously but do not take yourself seriously. Everybody has a lot of things to do at the office as well as at home. But never check your emails while having food. Look at the food while eating. This will create good gastric juices and your digestion will be good. Always keep a bit of free time for your coffee break and enjoy banter with colleagues. Keep free time at home for family members including spouse, kids and parents. TV, FB and WA can always wait. Make the rule of no work in the bedroom. Social media is the main killer of your free time and reducing social media usage will increase your free time. This free time can be used for declogging your schedules and enjoy the banter!
I will share one more story of how busy people find the time. One of our family friends was a personal friend of Narayan Murthy. The friend had called Murthy’s PA to find when Murthy could be available. Luckily both were in the same city. The PA called and said, ” Mr Murthy can meet you around 6.30 pm at xyz location. Then he can have half an hour of gupshup time with you in the car, as he is going to the airport. The car will drop you back to your hotel.”
Let me say Sayonara with a lovely message.
I will attempt to translate this Marathi message.
I would have so much loved to write
But you don’t have time to read
We could have chatted for hours together
But you have no time to listen
We could have walked into the horizon
But you have no time to walk
My ears are very eager to listen to you
But you have no time to talk