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An hour extra a day

17 February 2016

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Why are you so busy?

Back in the olden days, which my kids refer to anytime pre 2000, I was of a generation of women who was told that I could Have It All. I truly believed it. And what’s more, for many years it worked. I was used to getting pretty much what I wanted through hard work, determination and a modicum of talent.

In 2000 that all changed. In quick succession I had 3 babies in 3.5 years. Having It All started to rub a little.

However, I kept up the pace. I was a whirlwind after work each day as I vacuumed the floor; checked my emails; fed the cat; checked my emails; made dinner; checked my emails; bathed the kids; checked my emails; listened to my partner’s day; checked my emails and collapsed into bed… and checked my emails.

I was living the dream…

Something had to give and it did. It was a Monday and miraculously capable of being in 3 places at once, I dropped my preppie at school while juggling a telephone-conference and with the intention of being only slightly late for a team meeting.

As it turned out, it was school cup-cake day – who comes up with these ideas?

After depositing my traumatised son, I dashed to work and on entering my meeting - my mind firmly fixed on my child requiring 20 years of therapy to overcome the cupcake set back - I was greeted with silence. As the eyes of my colleagues looked at me, then slid to their watches, and then back to me, I had the profound realisation that I was the only member of the executive leadership team who didn’t have a full time wife.

So, let’s talk Busy’ness.

Without exception, each day when I greet people - from Time Stylers’ clients, to friends, to the post man - with Hi, how are you, the vast majority respond along the lines of, I am really busy!

But why? Busy’ness isn't a badge of honour - it’s an insidious, soul destroying disease and its time to call it for what it is - a boiling frog.

Now, without having conducted the experiment myself, essentially the story goes that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out, however if you place the frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature the frog won’t perceive the danger and will slowly cook. The boiling frog is a useful metaphor for our inability to react to threats that slowly sneak up on us - like the feeling of overwhelming busy’ness. It’s not like you can pin point the day busy’ness suddenly happened to you, is it?

And yet, like the frog, you are slowly cooking your brain. For example, in 2000 Microsoft surveyed 2,000 people and found our average attention span was 12 seconds. By 2015 this had fallen to 8 seconds - less than a gold fish!. Scottish researchers have coined a new disease to describe this human condition - BLS or Busy Lifestyle Syndrome. I kid you not.

As a busy women you have so many balls in the air that the juggle has become increasingly hard to sustain. Busy’ness represents a significant risk to your ability to maintain the pace, let alone up the ante and grow your success.

It’s time to reject busy’ness with 5 quick strategies you can implement immediately:

Adjust your mindset - When someone asks how you are, don’t respond with busy. Consciously choose a different answer - you are great, really productive, terrific. A positive response will result in a much more engaging conversation.

Stop multi-tasking - When you find yourself tackling more than one job at a time, stop and choose the most important task and focus on that until completion. Why? Because despite common belief that multi-tasking is super efficient, multi-tasking is actually a massive productivity killer. According to Meyer, even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks will result in a productivity loss of up to 40%.

Say No - When someone asks you to do something you really don’t want to do or don’t have time for, say No. This one can be hard. A great strategy is to pause, give your brain time to catch up with your mouth, and try something like ‘I’m sorry I can’t commit to anything right now - but if that changes I will come back to you.’

Time is money - Work out your hourly rate and apply it to the common tasks you perform each day. For example, if you earn $50ph and you spend an hour on Facebook each day, that’s an annual cost of $18,250 of your time. If you spend 3 hours a day working in your business rather than on your business that’s costing you $40,000 of your time plus the opportunity cost of not connecting with new clients. A simple way to test this with each task you perform is to ask ‘Is this the best use of my time?’

Outsource - With your hourly rate in mind, decide what it no longer makes sense for you to do at home. For example, 4 hours spent cleaning is $200 of your time. A cleaner will take 3 hours as an expert, and they cost $25ph. That’s a $75 clean, plus you have regained 4 hours of your time a week.

Make 2016 the year to focus on a little more ‘Me Time’ because, trust me, the water is boiling and it’s time to jump out of the pot.

Kate Christie in white shirt

Time Stylers ( founder Kate Christie (above) is a time management specialist, speaker and the author of best selling book, “Me Time – The Professional Woman’s Guide to Finding 30 Guilt-Free Hours a Month”, which walks readers through a proven 5 step process to find and harness lost time. Connect with Kate to have her speak at your next event or to help you and your team improve your productivity.




  • Amy Roche

    Amy Roche 4 years ago

  • Sandy McDonald

    Sandy McDonald 4 years ago

    Great article Kate, it's engaging and funny, and at the same time has a strong message we should all be listening too. I was rather shocked at the FB analogy. Maybe I will clock out this very minute!