I was recently thinking about my friends in New York City who are always so busy, busy, busy. The phrase “in a New York minute” implies that everything there runs faster. Well, yes, to a degree, that’s true. But I worked in NYC for a time as well and I’d be willing to bet that a lot of that so-called busyness is a combination of make-work and humble-brag.
To assume that being “busy” (at this point it has totally lost its meaning) is brag-worthy, is ridiculous. By endlessly puffing our shoulders about how “up to my neck” we are, we’re missing out on important connections with family and friends, as well as personal time. In addition to having entire conversations about how busy we are, we fail to share feelings with friends and family, ask about important matters, and realize that the “busy” is something that can be put on hold for a little while.
Anyone who works in Project Management in Corporate America knows that a lot of our time is spent in meetings, meetings and yes, more meetings. Even though the value of many meetings can be called into question, that’s not something that we can always be avoided. Stakeholders need to be updated. Team members have to be kept on task. Deadlines must be reiterated. You schedule a one-hour meeting and if you’re efficient, it will last 15-20 minutes. Or your meeting becomes inefficient and lasts the full hour while the true purpose only takes 5 minutes. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable even in the most efficiently-run, well-planned projects.
The importance of project planning and execution, managing scope & stakeholders and the like can rarely be understated. Even so, sometimes busy-work cannot be avoided in project life. However, it’s important to must avoid the pratfall of letting it creep into our personal lives.
You may not be able to control the number of useless meetings you must attend but that makes it all the more imperative to schedule your down-time constructively. ‘Constructive’ doesn’t have to mean productive, busy, frazzled and as over-scheduled outside of work as you are inside of it. Your career should not swallow you so much that you lose sight of why you go to work in the first place. If you cannot always control your busy-work, then control your life outside of work.
The minute you step out of the job – exhale. Relax. Appreciate your friends, your family, your kids. They’re the reason you go to work, right?
Do not keep as busy at home as you do at work. Pick 1 hobby, perhaps 2. Make sure you actually enjoy them; not just that you’re doing them because you feel you should. Get at them consistently.
Family Life Critical Path
Soccer practices and dance recitals and homework and summer camps. All important. Look to your ancestors though. If you’re not too young, look to your childhood. Chances are that if you’re 30+, your childhood wasn’t that complicated. Your children’s lives don’t have to be either. I know that is easier said than done.
But think about it this way. If your kids are over-scheduled now, how will they ever relax and enjoy their lives later on. They’ll never even have had a vision of a simple life.
Here’s where some PMP knowledge comes in handy. Use the Critical Path. Figure out the schedule and activities and how you go about trying to accomplish all the tasks you’ve set yourself. Then crash it. Focus on a small handful of the most important things. Simplify and/or eliminate the superfluous.