Is Being Busy a Disease?

I may have a disease. According to this article, it’s called being busy.

According to my priest, being busy allows me to hide from my real life – the things that truly matter. According to my kids, DC headshot 2013being busy means mom “has to” check her phone way too often. I don’t know if it’s a disease or not, but I do know I’m trying to stop. Really. I’m taking very specific steps (albeit baby steps) to stop being so busy, stop feeling overwhelmed and find a way to bring some balance to my life.

This article from CNBC says if you are working over 55 hours per week, you’re so unproductive you might as well not be working at all. If this is true, it means I’ve been wasting lots of time being busy for years. You?

The article also says there are many reasons many of us succumb to the disease of being busy. One, the need to feel important and prove our worth, was so true early in my career. With maturity and necessity, this is no longer the case. But it’s become a difficult habit to break and with advances in technology, it’s just so darn easy. Once I had children, I ensured my personal life was just as busy as my professional life – and its not a behavior I consciously wanted to model.

For the last several years, KNN has hosted an annual retreat for nonprofit CEO’s and executive directors. As a result of last year’s retreat led by leadership and organization consultant, Lisa Williams, I took some very specific action steps. I turned off email notifications on my desktop and my phone – so when I’m working, I can focus and I’m not interrupted. It was tough, but I’ve survived and I do feel more productive. I also made a commitment each morning when I reach for my phone to first spend a few minutes reading from a daily devotional app – before I check my calendar or my email. This small step is an attempt to get my mind right before I start my day and it has definitely helped put things into perspective. I also attempted to change the way I make to do lists.  This has been a complete failure – I’m still a work in progress on this one!

At this year’s executive retreat, we’ll be learning how to sharpen our negotiating skills with Stoll Keenon Ogden attorney, Tom Williams, and Lisa Williams (no relation that I know of) will help us revisit the goals many of us set at last year’s retreat or in other settings. I’m anxious to hear from my colleagues on what’s working for them – and what’s not. Even if you didn’t attend last year, there will be much to learn this Friday. And if you aren’t a nonprofit CEO, Lisa will be presenting on this topic at the Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Forum – if you are seeking a better work-life balance, her session is one you will not want to miss.

Now a confession: I am wrapping up this blog at 11:29pm. So much for my efforts to achieve a work-life balance! In fact, as part of my journey, I’m not sure I believe a complete work-life balance is possible any more. But I do believe I can do better because I deserve better, my family deserves better, my organization deserves better and so does my community. I’m a work in progress on many things and of all of them, setting boundaries between work and home is one of the most important things on my less than perfectly organized to do list.

I share my story on this blog because I know lots of you might have this disease too. And I know many young nonprofit leaders who want to avoid it. I hope you will break away from being busy and join us at Friday’s retreat or the Forum. And if you’ve conquered this disease and somehow have it all figure out, please let us hear from you – there are many of us who’d like to learn from you!

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