Person 1: How’s it going?
Person 2: Busy!
Person 1: Me too!
Above is the typical script I hear, and say, in the various settings I find myself. Often, I find myself surrounded by inspiring people working on audacious projects, and they are maxed out. The more tools we have to produce, the more we are expected to produce. This paradox is a bit perverse, and it is a common reality.
As we are well into the second half of 2019, I can’t help but see the impact the current pace has on our intended impacts. It seems that the more we do, the less time we have to think deeply about what we are doing. The problems we are working on are challenging - they require innovative solutions, out of the box approaches, adaptive strategies...all things that are far harder to access and implement when our days are packed and our minds are racing.
How does your calendar look? I assume it is impacted, like everyone else. We literally bounce between meetings, appointments, obligations, errands and tasks. This busy-ness of our physiology is mirrored in our psychology. The more events on the calendar, the more occupied our minds are with logistics and timeframes, leaving little time to access, consistently, the deeper cognition needed to be even more strategic, creative and impactful.
So how can we reduce the busy-ness and still go about our business? I am taking Naval Ravikant’s advice and following his decluttering method:
Turn meetings into calls: Many times, we meet out of habit. Face-to-face is so much better than any other form of communication, and if a relationship is solid than I can buy back a few hours by conducting meetings as a call. Many video call services exist and they are getting better every day. In-person meetings are very important, and when needed make them short, actionable and active.
Turn calls into emails: How much time is wasted on conference calls? Protect that precious time and request the information, context or request written/shared via the email (or whatever other great digital communication tools you use).
Schedule Yourself First: It is too easy to prioritize work above self. Put yourself on the calendar first and schedule everything else around that!
Managing our time to increase our impact using the above filters requires us to be more concise, precise, clear and a more present listener - all important communication practices. The world needs us operating at a higher capacity, especially at this historic moment. The stakes are high and the urgency alarms are sounding with their bright red lights flashing.
If we are too damn busy, we will never build great things. As we strive to bring about positive systems and culture change, our busy-ness undermines our ability to imagine and implement the impacts we are efforting to bring about. Protecting our time is vital to sustaining our mental, physical and emotional powers as we set forth to create healthy communities, build the unimaginable, and discover the astonishing.