You’re Only as Busy as You Want Yourself to Be

My task list is empty.

I have nothing to do.

Only a few weeks ago I had a crazy amount of work. If I had dropped it all out of my hands at the same time, you would have been able to register the shock of it on the Richter's scale.

But not anymore.

You see, due to some circumstances (of which I will inform you some other time) I had to clean my task lists and project lists rigorously. I had to stop all parts of my work that were not crucial to running our business. I deleted tasks, postponed projects, killed programs, ignored issues, deferred ideas, and archived initiatives.

And suddenly my agenda is as empty as the European Parliament in Strasbourg on a sunny weekday.

It is proof that I'm only as busy as I want myself to be. I only thought that my job required 80 hours per week to do properly. I only thought that all these tasks, projects, and programs were screaming to be completed. And I only thought that all this work was necessary to keep the business running. But it wasn't.

You're Only as Busy as You Want Yourself to Be

You don't believe it? Well, try this: Pick a random number. Any number between 0 and 20 will do. We will call that number N. Now open your task list, and select the Nth task on that list. Got it? OK. Now, delete it. Just get rid of it. Hit the Del key and forget about it. Done that? Good! Now, look around you. Has anything changed in the office? Did something come crashing down the ceiling? Did some of the machines explode? Has someone died? No, of course not. You simply got rid of some arbitrary work, and the business around you just continued as it did before.

Feels liberating, doesn't it?

Most of the things you do are probably not really needed. So… don't do them.

You might want to keep repeating the same procedure, until you get the hang of it. Keep practicing! Just pick a task, any task, and delete it. You will feel much better when there's so little left on your list that there's hardly any reason at all to come to work. (And if you become really, really good at it, you might even qualify to run for the European Parliament!)

And the best thing about cleaning up your task list is that you're finally able to start working on that great new thing that you never had time for…

Disclaimer: I have been exaggerating a little here, just to get my point across. Don't take this too literally. I know that, in reality, some people in the European Parliament have given themselves way too much work that they think needs to be done. And, to the regret of 450 million Europeans, they haven't yet learned how to clean up their tasks lists.

(image by trymenow)

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