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Are you busy or are you making a significant progress?

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If you live in a big city and particularly deal with the corporate world, you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s almost become the default response when you ask someone how they’re doing: “Busy!”, “O’ I’m very busy”, “My schedule is crazy brother”.

Since I started my professional career and especially in last 10 years, the most common thing I have observed is our obsession with “busyness”. While many of us know modern world is addicted to busyness, and there are random conversations about it, we’ve grown accustomed to our “busy” ways and not much has changed. We are still so inclined to be busy, busy, and busy that we almost feel guilty when we’re not busy.

This standard response is a show off disguised as a complaint. And yet, upon close inspection, you realize that though busy these people don’t seem to make any significant progress towards something truly meaningful. You ask them why they don’t do the things they say they want to do and they always answer, “I’ve been very busy and unable to find enough time to do them.”

Busy doing what?


Did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings? Being busy does not equal to making meaningful progress. Human beings need time for human-to-human interactions. We need time for sitting with the people we love and have slow conversations about the state of our hearts and souls. We need time for self reflection and more meaningful self conversations to see where the life is heading to.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with how “busy” you are, and you don’t seem to make any headway, you need to slow down a bit. Our insistence on staying busy has damaging effects on our overall well-being: exhaustion, burnout, more stress and an inability to focus. Just stop being too busy as Allah (swt) also wants us to have some time for reflection and pondering (tadabbur & taffakur in Arabic).

Here are some ways you can use to avoid being so busy all the time.

1. Stop using the word “busy”


Words are powerful tools. What we repeatedly say and think gets carved in our minds and manifests in our actions. If you keep using the word “busy,” it becomes what you focus on, whether consciously or sub-consciously. Remove the word “busy” out of your vocabulary today. Instead, find more positive and constructive ways to express yourself.

For example, when people ask you how you are doing, you could say: “I’m making leaps and bounds over some obstacles, but alhumdulillah making progress towards my goal. How about you?” or simply, “I’m working on some exciting projects at the moment which are aligned to my ultimate vision. How about you?”

2. Delegate, outsource or postpone


It is one thing to say you are busy when you aren’t and another when you truly are busy. Sometimes we are indeed busy networking and meeting people, as well as running several projects and other routine. You can have a lot going on, but it doesn’t mean you are going anywhere. I’ve met many people who want to do many things, but after years of effort, I find them without a significant progress in any of those many things. The issue is keeping yourself busy in too many things and destroy the focus.

Examine your life and determine what you can cut out to increase your focus and time margins. You want to be great at a few things, rather than mediocre at many. Choose few things to focus on each day. Delegate, outsource or postpone the rest. This will help to de-clutter your life.

3. Say NO to a lot of things ‘you want to do’


The advice, “Learn to say no,” is such a cliché these days, and easy to assume it only means saying no to tedious, distracting, unfulfilling tasks and people. But, “the biggest, trickiest lesson,” author Elizabeth Gilbert says, “is learning how to say no to things you do want to do.” One of my teacher once said to me, “The efficiency of your life depends on how many things you want to leave and not how many things you want to do.

There are many things you would want to do, but you need to learn to say no to them so that you can focus on few things that really matter the most. For example, you need to say “No” to work e-mails when you’re planning to have quality time with your family in the evening after work.

In the modern rat race of corporate world, this never ending race is destroying millions of people globally. Limiting yourself and your willingness to beat busyness by giving fair enough focus to your other roles can help you improve. Do not compromise on the role of Abdullah, self and family relationships.

4. Surround yourself with visionary and like-minded people


Jim Ron correctly observed that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. The people we spend the most time with influence our thinking, self-esteem, priorities and decisions. They even influence our productivity and “busyness.”

If you surround yourself with people who view busyness as a status symbol—a sign that you in high demand and thus important—as most people do, it’s easy to default to a “busy” lifestyle in order to fit in, but without any meaning.

Get rid of all the “busy” people in your life where possible and surrounded yourself with more visionary people who share your visions and values. Surround yourself with people who are better than you. They’re the only people who will make you better. People who have opposite views and unproductive habits will drag you down with them

5. Schedule time for rest and relaxation


Rest and relaxation are essential in our lives. I have recently read that when Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, sat on the bench – he rested. It did not matter if his team was down by 50 points and the team needed him, he rested.

He says he focused 100 percent on resting and relaxing during time out. He did not think about the shot he missed or the shots he would need to make when he got back out. Jordan valued his rest-time and made the most of it. He knew that making the most of his rest-time was the only way he would be at his optimal performance when he got back into the game.

Jordan’s practice of mindfulness during resting can be applied to our lives. Set aside some time for rest and relaxation every day. This should also include your time for your adkhkar, tilawat and the rememberance of Allah (swt), which is a great means of reviving your energy.

Schedule it on your calendar, and guard it seriously, just like catching a flight. If there are activities that require you to step outside the office like getting you a mid-day snack or go for prayer, you must do it. It will allow you to take a break, get some fresh air and connecting with your Creator. If you don’t get enough time for rest and rejuvenating your soul, you will burnout and ultimately fail.

6. Unplug from technology


For many of us, the “privileged” ones, the boundaries between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices all the time. Laptops and smart phones mean that there is no division between the office and home. When the kids go to bed, we are back online, punching the keyboard late into the night. And the flood of e-mails never stops.

Shut off the computer. Disconnect from the internet. Unplug from all the other gadgets and step away from work for a period of time every day. Take as many walking breaks as you can. Be alone with yourself and your thoughts. Examine your own heart; explore your soul.

You don’t have to be bogged down by the uncontrollable. The hundreds and hundreds of e-mails in your inbox can wait. Your “Busyness” does not have to define you. You have to define what you really want to be busy in and is it taking you towards developing meaningful existence or not.

I pray to Allah (swt) to give us wisdom to use our time wisely and save us from being busy in meaningless things. Aameen.


 


Yameenuddin Ahmed has been associated with Timelenders since 2004 as one of its key leaders in the area of life transforming trainings, coaching, and counseling. To date, Ahmed has helped thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations in developing worthy and powerful visions and in bringing order, enhancing character, and improving performance in personal and professional living. (Read more)


 

 


 

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