Busy Now or Busy Forever?

busy decision delegation discipline efficient lazy leader leadership live2lead productive productivity servant Aug 29, 2020

Before closing the loop on the busyness issue we’ve looked at through the last few messages, here’s a quick reminder that registration is now open for the LIVE virtual LIVE2LEAD:Harrisonburg experience on Friday, October 9. Not only will you get immediate access to some special material from the 2019 Live2Lead speakers, we will also be providing everyone who participates at any point in the 2020 LIVE2LEAD:Harrisonburg SEASON with a code for complimentary access to our digital course on Build a Reputation as a Servant Leader!

Now, on with the show!

We started down this path by looking how most of us are Busier Than We’ve Ever Been and I referenced the quote from Tim Ferris in The 4-Hour Workweek I had previously shared in a my LinkedIn article called Busy, Lazy, or Undisciplined? where Ferris stated that “being perpetually busy is akin to being sloppy with your time and is ultimately a form of laziness.” As I pointed out in the two messages since, Are You Making The HARD Decisions and Doing It and Making Sure It’s Done Are Two Very Different Things, I really struggle associating laziness with being so busy that we feel like every day we’re alive we fall a little further behind. That kind of busyness requires an incredible amount of effort day in and day out!

As I closed the last message, I suggested when we have the opportunity to delegate certain tasks we can really begin being more effective with those things only we can do. While being intentional about what we’re delegating to each team member can also have a tremendous long term impact on the overall strength of our department or organization as a whole, that’s a topic for another day. The challenge with delegating is that it requires us to place trust in the person we’re handing each task off to and it takes intentionality to ensure we’ve done it in a way that the end result is still meeting expectations. Regardless of who performs the task, we’re still likely the one who’s responsible…

And guess what! Every step of that delegation process requires a chunk of that time we already have so little of… So the question we each need to answer in those situations is do we want to be busy now or busy forever?

If we only assign the task to another team member without providing very specific detail and instruction on how they can achieve the top quality results we’re after, we can’t reasonably expect them to do it just like we would. After all, most of us who find ourselves in those crazy-busy situations typically have a ton of expertise that allows us to deliver a great end product even under the tightest deadlines. Many of our team members aren’t likely to have that same experience, and they may never get there unless we’re willing to invest some time into passing on our knowledge.

When we don’t provide that level of detailed instruction, we often end up with a less than stellar result. That takes even more of our time and it lowers the trust we have in that team member’s performance, which usually eats up our time in other ways moving forward.

So what’s the solution? At the risk of you hitting the delete button or closing the tab as soon as you see this, I have to tell you that I’ve never found a magic pill or silver bullet. Carving out the time to delegate intentionally and effectively is absolutely going to require more of the time and energy that you’re already stretched so thin on. It’s ridiculously hard when you’re doing it. But when we do this well, the results get a little better each time and our load begins to get a bit lighter! After a while, we can actually begin to focus on the things that only we can do - and those are the things that usually produce our best results! So even though it will be tough to turn the corner, we need to continue asking ourselves whether we’d rather be really busy now or really busy forever?