Why Being “Busy” is Ruining Everything For You

This week, I’ve already had two negative encounters with people and their excuse is simply, “I’m really busy.” No apology for their rude behavior, no acknowledgement that I (like everyone else) am also busy, and no regard for anyone but themselves. This is a problem.

If you Google “the busy epidemic” you’ll find over half a million articles outlining why this has become such a problem, and some suggestions for solutions. You can even hashtag how busy you are #busybragging. People use the excuse “I’m busy” as a way to write others off, act unkindly, and perpetuate a society of “haves” and “have-nots.” Here’s the truth: you’re not busy, you’re alive.

You’re working, studying, taking care of people, running errands, working out, socializing – you’re LIVING. So is everyone else. Your attitude of being too busy is ruining your relationships and your chance at professional success and fulfillment. Don’t believe me? Here’s some evidence. The mindset of busy-ness can lead to:

-Increased stress levels, which can have negative physical and emotional effects, according to the American Psychological Association, among others.

-Decreased work performance

Burn out in personal and professional contexts

-Less satisfaction from interpersonal relationships – it’s a two-way street y’all!

An inability to be present

I know that so many of us actually are really busy, and this post is not to discredit all the hard and amazing work we do. However, we don’t need to use being busy as an excuse for isolating ourselves and treating others poorly. The mindset of being overly busy is a lose-lose scenario for all involved. The evidence above is proof that with the help of others, we can all find more success and happiness. Ask yourself why you’re using the excuse “I’m busy” and address issues head on. After all, if you are really busy, do you even have the time to make excuses?

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Want more on this topic? Here are some of the best articles (in my opinion, of course):

21 Reasons You Should Not be Proud of Being Busy – LifeHack

The Busy Trap – Wall Street Journal

Why Being Busy Can Keep You From Getting Ahead – Forbes

Six Reasons You’d Be Happier if you Stopped Saying “Busy” – Washington Post

 

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Meetings and Millennials

milloffice_600x300So far, I am one week (half-way) into my Plank Center for Leadership educator fellowship at Cox Communications. To date, I have had 19 meetings and one happy hour meet and greet. Tonight, I have a dinner on the docket. Needless to say, Cox is a meeting-centric culture. While some people would find the abundance of meetings unnecessary, it fits so perfectly into Cox’s larger culture. Often named one of the best places to work, Cox provides a community for their employees; a community that is partially cultivated through meetings. People here like to sit face-to-face to brainstorm and collaborate together. They embrace inter-departmental projects and encourage employees to find “passion projects” to work on. The sprawling campus certainly helps – you can have a walking meeting, a coffee chat, or a working lunch together over your choice of shrimp ceviche, a custom salad, or a calzone, to name a few.

I was paired with Cox to help them better understand the Millennial generation. As Jill Campbell, the COO, casually mentioned to me in a meeting, “the people are our secret sauce.” She was referring to the fact that it’s typical to meet Cox employees who have been with the organization for decades, herself included.

That tenure, though, presents challenges for recruiting and retaining a Millennial workforce – my passion project. So it got me thinking about how Cox’s meeting-centric culture might be the key to retaining Millennial employees. What do we know about Millennials? Well, they want to collaborate, they want an abundance of feedback, they want to work on teams, and they want the chance to be heard. What do we know about meetings? You collaborate, you talk, you evaluate, and you ask questions. A match made in heaven, if you ask me.

So before organizations start letting everyone work-from-home, changing all their content to videos and infographics, and doing away with traditional work hours and job titles to please the Millennials, take a step back. Think about the core of what this group wants and how it can integrate into what you’re already doing and who you’re currently doing it with. There’s meaning in meetings for a variety of reasons. More importantly, seasoned professionals have come to expect meetings, and meetings are a great way to bring Millennials into the fold.

That being said, I think it could be extremely overwhelming for a Millennial to enter their first post-grad job in a meeting-centric place, like Cox, without the right advice. As Leigh Woisard explained to me: “you need to realize that you can decline meeting invites. Sometimes people invite everyone for practical and political reasons. You need to remember what your goals are and ask yourself whether this meeting is essential or not. If not, don’t go and get an update later.” Advice like this is critical for Millennials who might be left wondering when they’re actually supposed to get their work done.  But overall, I think contrary to popular belief, both meetings and Millennials provide great benefits to organizations.

Welcome to Cox!

It’s been about five years since I was truly immersed in a corporate culture and it’s funny what happens to your memories over that period of time. The night before my first day as a Plank Educator Fellow at Cox I stayed in a barely air conditioned Hilton eating a complimentary cheese plate for the dirty sheets they left on my bed – memory trigger #1. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on my first day feeling strangely refreshed and got to Cox at 8:15 a.m., just in time to watch everyone strut in from a holiday weekend. In my days leading up to this moment, I reminded myself that I was chosen to do this for a reason, that it should be a mutually beneficial relationship (to take the pressure off of my Type-A self), and that I’m not here on an interview, I’m here to learn! But as everyone walked by me with such purpose and their already key-coded badges, I stood there waiting to get a “visitor” badge feeling less confident every time I saw a perfectly put together outfit– memory trigger #2.

Anticipatory socialization explains how newcomers (i.e. me) use social interactions to try and assimilate to the “in” group or culture within an organization, to help ease the shock of entry and become accepted faster. Cox nailed this for me. I was greeted with IMG_1426enthusiastic smiles and warm welcomes throughout my entire day. It seemed as though my visitor badge was less of a branding and more of a badge of honor, until I actually started talking with everyone – memory trigger #3.

Most of my day consisted of meetings with directors and managers who are undoubtedly excelling at their job and enjoying it. It was so refreshing for me to talk with people who are practicing PR daily and have a passion for the field. However, what I quickly learned was that although I understood their roles even prior to our meetings, most of them do not understand mine. For example, I was asked “how did you learn to teach?” and “tell me about your job, I’m not sure I totally get it” and “what are students like these days?” I am always more than happy to indulge these questions and actually receive questions like this frequently in more casual settings, but in this context, it was a blatant reminder of why this fellowship even exists. For the next ten days at Cox, I am a human bridge between education and practice. The corporate world, in many ways, operates within a vacuum – memory trigger #4. My job here is to educate and be educated on trends, expectations, and future goals.

By the end of the day, I was walking in to a new, air-conditioned, freshly cleaned hotel room, with an official badge ordered – memory trigger #5. It’s amazing how even though corporate culture can feel monotonous, you can really go full-circle in one day. I’m happily remembering the joys of corporate life and embracing the small and meaningless hiccups that occur. I already have a list of ideas for my students this fall (insert semi-evil laugh here). At the end of day one, I think I can say I’ve successfully started to infiltrate the “in” group despite being the random professor roaming around admiring the gym, cafeteria, and blooming lily pads I can see out of my floor-to-ceiling office windows.