Are You Focused on Being Busy, Instead of Being Accomplished?

To say we live in the information age is an understatement. Four years ago, I would have followed the Olympics primarily via one method, the television. During the two weeks of coverage earlier this year, that was no longer sufficient. Enter my laptop, which I used while I was watching the television (why settle for 5 channels, when you can have 12 more sport-specific ones streaming live?) And then there was the smartphone app with video that kept me up-to-date while I wasn’t tethered to my television or laptop.

And I realize there’s no turning back. In four years when the games are in Rio, I can see myself with all my devices again and the added tin foil hat to ensure full coverage of the games.

Indeed, it was a feast of sports.

What became evident to me, however, is the risk that I, and may I say “we”, take when it comes to our personal and working lives.

Just because we have an overwhelming buffet of distractions, doesn’t mean we need to consume all of it.

And yet it can be quite addicting, and we can be self-deluding (for more info: bursting the bubble of the multi-tasking myth).

In short, what we’ve gained in information, we’ve lost in focus.

We confuse being busy with being accomplished.

Being busy feels like we’re getting things done, but in many ways, it’s a myth. The important question is: When will we truly learn that, and change accordingly?

In working with leaders and managers, I have seen that the accomplished ones do 3 things:

Step 1
They slow down. Why? See step 2.

Step 2
So they can reflect and focus. It’s one thing if the world around us is swirling around at a million miles an hour, but do we really need to jump in the blender and swim with, or worse, against that torrent?

Use whichever metaphor pleases you the most: merry-go-round, the blender, the whirlpool, etc. At some point, we need to pull ourselves off or out so we can stand apart from the mayhem that we may or may not have inflected upon ourselves.

Being busy does not equate with being accomplished.

Accomplished leaders reflect and focus on the important work. They are zealous about protecting their time, and ensure they focus on the right work. And with the proper focus, they then…

Step 3
Commit to accomplishing the important. The clarity of focus they establish fuels their commitment to achieving their goals, without attending to the distractions that inevitably come.

The distractions will come; they’re unavoidable. But unless one slows down, stands apart from the maelstrom, and establishes the proper focus and ensuing commitment, one can only hope that he/she is somehow carried in the proper direction of one’s goals.

And that’s a lot to hope for.


How do you manage the barrage of distractions? How do you find your focus and establish your commitment?

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you for this timely post. Just this very morning I did NOT check my email until the most important task of the day was complete. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. But, having the rest of the day ahead of me, knowing that deadline is complete – it feels fantastic (and I now have time to comment on a blog post!).

  • Cari, thanks for your comment. I totally hear you. Similarly, I heard from a colleague who noted that after a very busy week last week, she totally unplugged, literally turned off her Blackberry for the weekend for the first time in her 6 years with the company. Although she viewed it as risky, she didn’t regret it at all. She said the change was unbelievable. She DID turn it back on late Sunday afternoon, and did get caught up. But the difference was not having the constant interruption throughout the weekend. And she managed to get all work done without an issue.

  • I’m thankful that I’m a goal oriented person. I get frustrated, disappointed, and anxious when goals aren’t being accomplished. You’re article is exactly why I refuse to get a “smartless” phone. It’s difficult to get tasks done when people send you an email, then walk over after a non-immediate response to talk to you about said email. I’m not ignoring you, just haven’t to item 42 out of 100. So, I once wrote on a t-shirt with big black sharpie “Not here, very busy” on the front and back. It was amazing how the mindless chatting suddenly ceased around my desk! (and to me of course)


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