Too busy is a symptom of something.

Have you ever been told by a colleague ‘Sorry, I haven’t done that, I’ve been too busy’? Have you ever used this as an excuse for not getting something done that you may have been asked to do?

In my previous job, there was this one professional who was always too busy to do the tasks assigned to him.

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Photo by Kevin on Unsplash

He had been with the company for some years and was one of the engineers whose time was in demand by many projects. So why was he not doing the work? We were under pressure from management to deliver the projects on time and too frequently all depended on this one person.

Its been over ten years since I left that job, and I still think about this engineer and how he was able to control the progress of all of the projects he worked on by merely saying that he was too busy to do specific tasks.

The lack of progress in our projects was frustrating, and only years after leaving the company, I was able to reflect on why people say they are too busy to do things.

I concluded that there were two possible scenarios at play.

  1. The project management was terrible as unexpected things emerged and we had not planned for adequate resources.
  2. The leadership was lacking because communication inside the organization didn’t work and people could not decide on their priorities.

But not until I saw Tim Ferriss visit the #askgaryvee show yesterday, I realized I had been wrong all these years.

The problem was that this guy didn’t have the skill to decline, to say a firm and concise NO to the requests every new project made to him. The avalanche was ready to roll.

I was that guy who was always late, and I blamed the colleagues, managers, organization and our plans. And not even once did I look into the mirror asking “What’s the most common denominator in all these projects?” because the answer would have pointed back to me.

Just yesterday I caught myself doing the same thing again. A telemarketer called me, and I dismissed the call by saying this is not a current topic for us. He promised to call me in three months to follow up, and I agreed.

Can you imagine what happens when most telemarketers do their job well and follow up on their calls? It will become a landslide of requests in few months and I’ll be too busy once more.

Learn so say a solid NO and the rest will be history.

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