The Hurrier I Go, the Behinder I Get

“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!” Three of my coaching clients in the past two days have been suffering from this condition. One of them is a healthcare provider who feels so crunched for time that he literally gives himself five minutes for lunch—that’s it—so he can take care of other business while ‘on break.’ The second is another life coach who’d been sick for a week, and now that she’s feeling better, is in danger of running herself right back into the ground while playing catch-up in hyper speed. The third is a contractor who’s transitioning into another line of work and finds herself trying to cram 16 hours of work into an 8-hour day. And let’s ‘fess up—who among us hasn’t experienced that at one time or another? I find the trouble lies in whether we’ve actually made that a way of life, rather than a rare occasion. In two of these three cases, it’s become a way of life…and it’s not working!

Freedom from this hurrier/behinder way of life comes from:

  1. Noticing that you’re doing it
  2. Identifying why you’re doing it
  3. Choosing things that make it an unnecessary mode of operation
  4. Practicing those new choices

Noticing creates self-awareness. Once you’re aware you’re doing it, you become aware of the consequences, which often show up as cut corners, missed steps and sub-standard work and performance. And that’s not to mention the effects all that rushing and stressing have on you physically and psychologically. (Believe it or not, even the slightest increase in stress hormones triggers your body to store fat—and who the heck needs that?!  More on that in a future blog entry.)

Identifying why you’ve fallen into that hurry-hurry-busy-busy lifestyle is trickier, because it requires you to be brutally honest with yourself and some times when you do that, you don’t like what you see. (And frankly, that’s just one good reason to work with a coach: You should be able to count on your coach to ask you uncomfortable-but-ultimately-empowering questions. I call that being a ruthless sanctuary for my clients.)  It seems to me more and more these days, people wear ‘busy’ or ‘swamped’ as badges of honor, like they’re some kind of sign of heroism or sacrifice to be rewarded. Being busy can also be a way to protect yourself from being asked to do anything more because, “Excuse me, can’t you see that I’m already totally swamped doing these other things?”  ‘Busy’ is not a virtue. Certainly, you can think of virtues that are more inspiring!

Choosing things that make ‘busy’ an unnecessary M.O. is essential. Often the simplest and smallest things are overlooked because they’re so obvious. Here are a few that have made a big difference for my clients:

  • Plan for tomorrow today. Each night, create a ‘Top 6’ list for tomorrow. These are the top six things you will accomplish tomorrow. This isn’t stuff like picking up the dry cleaning. I’m talking big-ticket items with the highest value that will have the biggest impact on your life, business and relationships.
  • Look for time stealers and start eliminating them. How much time to you spend in front of the television? Or squander at the computer?
  • Learn to delegate and ask for support. I was delighted with the time I gained when I taught my children to do their own laundry and clean their own rooms! What can you give away to someone else—especially something that would serve them in the long run, too?
  • Do nothing. I know it sounds completely counterintuitive and counterproductive, but some times you really do need to do nothing in order to do more. My client who was only taking a five-minute lunch break is a perfect example of this. It only contributed to his sense of overwhelm to eat his sandwich while paying bills and updating patient files. When your body, mind and soul are recharged and refueled, you can be more present, focused and available—and that’s when time seems to expand. You actually become more effective when you take care of yourself.

Practicing those new choices makes perfect, right? Well, I don’t really agree with that—but I do know that practice makes for progress! And when you practice something enough it becomes an ingrained habit.

What will you practice to create a new positive habit in place of ‘busy’? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and let others learn from your example.

3 comments to The Hurrier I Go, the Behinder I Get

  • I find myself falling into this “hurry-hurry-busy-busy” trap all the time. The steps where I fall down are the Choosing and the Practicing ones. I’m going to re-commit to creating a “Top 6” list each night. I’ve done it before, and you’re absolutely right–it works! But the trick is to keep doing it every day until it becomes a habit.

    Thanks for another great post!

  • Heidi Lee

    Thank you for this posting, Denise. These words were exactly what I needed to remind me where I’ve gotten off-track: both with my “Top 6” and recognizing time stealers. Neglecting these two seemingly simple things have been preventing me from accomplishing my recent goals in the time frames I’ve declared I wanted them completed. This was perfect.

  • molli

    first of all, i love u denise…my coach.

    i found myself earlier hurry-ing, busy-what can i do, who can i talk to, who can i connect with.

    when i sat looking and listening, it all waved clear.

    i watched the palm trees sway. a hummingbird flew 10 inches from me hovering.
    i saw the sky and its magnificence.

    tv. not on

    candle lit.

    i’m taking care of me.

    love u and thank you beautiful you

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