Motivation Monday: Balance Busy with Purposeful Actions

Balance busy to keep time from slipping away. Little bits, distractions, and clutter will steal your time and resources unless you make a purposeful effort to find ways to keep busy in-check.

“I’m so busy doing nothing that the idea of doing anything – which as you know, always leads to something – cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.” – Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld famously made a living writing about nothing. Most of us have to do something or write about something in order to make the living we need. Mondays make the need for doing something abundantly clear.

Mondays provide a chaotic cacophony of to-dos, added to-dos, and must to-dos. Each meeting attended adds to the list until it becomes so heavily weighted it feels impossible to get it done. Add to the impossibility of it all the necessity that it all must get done. 

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Too much something leads to stress, and that often leads to nothing getting done. The real joy of Monday is that each meeting attended seems to add more to the ever-expanding to-do list. 

Keep the busyness from snowballing into stress by finding ways to balance busy with purposeful actions.

The iconic band, Alabama, wrote a song many years ago focusing on the reality that we were all in a hurry. Amazingly, they wrote it before our phones talked to us and followed us everywhere, feeding us entertainment and information (and yes, work!).

We are in a hurry, and we don’t even know why. The busyness of it all makes the hurry happen, and the hurrying of it all keeps the busyness happening. 

Before jumping into the to-do list or tacking that new item on, ask yourself these questions so you can find your way to balance busy:

balance busy

1. Is this a forward move? 

Busy happens when you are running in the hamster wheel. Things are getting done, but those things aren’t moving you anywhere. Be sure the item on your to-do list is helping you get it done.

A policeman stopped at a car on the side of the road. A young man worked hard to loosen the nuts on the back passenger side tire. The man finished and moved on to the front tire. He repeated the process until he moved to the last tire. 

The policeman took the scene in before he asked, “Why are you doing that?” 

The driver looked up from the last tire and smiled. “I didn’t know how to change a tire, so I looked it up on my phone. The first step was to loosen the nuts.” 

The young man had loosened the nuts, but in his busyness, he ended up adding to the work that would have to be done.

2. Is this the right person for it?

The chaos occurs when you pile up things best left to someone else. The to-do list grows out of control with the added struggle of taking away from others what they are passionate about doing. Be sure you are the right person to tackle the to-do.

The young woman had a gift for herding cats, so to speak. If a group of children were getting out of line and she was the nearest adult, she could reign in the group with a simple (but loud and screeching – the sound some moms make that seems to stop the whole world from moving another inch) “Ehnt!”Passion will be enhanced by abilities and not directed by them.

The older leader noticed her ability and encouraged her to take advantage of the gift. “You should work with children.” 

The young woman smiled and shook her head. “That is definitely not my calling.” She recognized that although she could do something, like herd cats, it didn’t mean it was what she should do. Passion will be enhanced by abilities and not directed by them.

3. Is there a tool that can make it easier (or do it all)?

Busy accumulates when you forget the tools (or don’t know they exist). The same technology that allowed for the overwhelming chaos to occur also provides relief. If the tool you want or need doesn’t currently exist, there is a community out there waiting to make it happen. Be sure to invest in learning the tools that can help you get it done.

A couple purchased a home to remodel and flip. They owned two tools: a hammer and a chainsaw. In an attempt to save money, they used those two tools to do all their work. The chainsaw cut up things. The hammer tore down things and later on helped put things back together where needed.

Using the two tools saved them money upfront because they didn’t have to purchase any more tools. The work they did was not as clean, and it took longer to complete, so in the long run, it cost more money to use the two tools than they saved.

Years later, the couple purchased another house. This time they called in a professional that had all the right tools and the experience to use them. An investment today in the right tool or plugin can save your resources down the line. An investment today in the right tool or plugin can save your resources down the line.

Busy happens when you do things outside of your passion (or job description) when you are doing what doesn’t move you to where you need to be, or when you are missing the tool you need to get more done (or to get it done better). Taking time to ask three questions can move you from busy to purposeful actions that get things done and get the better things done.

Dolly Parton has been quoted as saying, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Being busy clouds the focus and derails the train. Build your better life by lassoing busy.

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Are You Too Busy to Build Better?

A dad went to the local ballpark to pick up his son from practice. The dad parked by the field and waited in the car as the coach gathered the players around him. Several minutes later, the group broke up, and most of the players walked out to the other waiting parents. 

Several players continued to rush around the field, around the bases, and in and out of the dugouts. The dad watched as his son joined in the chaotic craziness of the players left behind.

The rest of the fields cleared out, and maintenance began shutting off the lights. Only as the darkness closed in on them did the final players abandon the field.

When the son climbed into the back seat without a word, the dad had to know. “What were you doing out there?” The dad expected an explanation that would include special drills or skill-building activities. There had to be a reason for all of the running.

“We were busy playing ball, of course,” his son replied matter-of-factly. 

Building a successful business (or even a successful baseball team) requires committed investments, but these activities have to be more than movement if things are going to grow into their potential. You need to be invested in purposeful actions and not merely busy playing ball.

Balance Busy By Building Better

Actions become busyness when they aren’t working for you or when they end up working against you. Define your better, pursue your better, and refuse to give in to the good of others and you will balance busy.

  • Define it – you define your better and your success. It will be unique to you because you are the only you out there. Learn from others, but then take what you learn and make it your own. Know you to know your better.
  • Pursue it – the only way to get there is to go (no matter where you determine there to be for you. Take one step. Take another step. Each step and each little bit will move you closer to your better.
  • Refuse it (the it of others) – they don’t know your way because you define your way. It’s okay to listen to others (and we need to listen to learn and grow), but stay firmly planted in your driver’s seat.

Never fear Monday again. Build the habits that give you the power to balance busy with purposeful actions, and Mondays will be one more day for creating your desired success. 

How do you balance busy? Be sure to share your top tips in the comments below.

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