Manage Your Busy-ness or Your Business Will Manage You

For small to mid-sized company owners, “business” is all about “busy”-ness.  Along with the rise of smartphones, we have been bombarded by relentless updates via various mobile apps, emails, and calls every day.  Plus, something always pops up unexpectedly, adding to the already full plate of demands from customers, employees, and suppliers. As such, there’s a never-ending list of To-do’s, not to mention the effort to squeeze in time for your child’s basketball game or stage performance.  Sound familiar?  The fast-paced lifestyle of the 21st century has become almost a norm to those living in developed economies, even if each individual has a different amount of workload.  While technological developments may have pushed the limits on productivity, we may have lost a peace of mind.

According to recent psychology research, busyness is not necessarily an indication of having countless deadlines to meet and jobs to accomplish.  In fact, it can be interpreted as a perception, a “feeling” of being busy.  One study showed that people who were primed to feel busy performed significantly poorly on cognitive tests as compared with those who did not feel busy.  Even given the same amount of workload, people who suppressed the perception of busyness felt less worried and were more focused to complete the given tasks.  The key takeaway from these findings is that people can avoid making mistakes, improve their focus, and generally perform better when they can keep their busyness feelings at bay.

One practical advice to reduce the feeling of busyness is the following.  First is to start out by prioritizing and organizing the work that need to be done.  Then, instead of creating one long (both mental and actual) list of To-Do’s, categorize the tasks into groups, similar to performing mental accounting.  Lastly, when you feel that rush of anxiety from all the upcoming duties, take a deep breath, calm down, and reflect on how you overcame many other obstacles in life.  Surely, you will manage your business better with less busyness occupying your mind.