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I came across the quote above this week on Instagram and it struck a cord with me. One of the most common phrase I hear when I am out and about is “I’m busy” or “I’m too busy”. It is used so often now I wonder if the English language has morphed “hello, how are you?” Into a reply “I’m busy”. Ridiculous yes, but it certainly does feel like it.

And yet I wonder; are these people really busy? Or is it they just feel busy because of all the distractions they receive every few minutes. Their devices are a constant source of pings and dings and vibrations. How many people turn off notifications on their phones? Indeed how many people know how to turn off notifications on their devices? You don’t need Facebook or Snap Chat telling you every few minutes (seconds for some) that your friend has posted a picture, and you don’t need your email set to push notifications. Asking your phone to check your email every hour is good enough.

I also wonder how many people actually just turn everything off for an hour or so every day and just get on with some real work. When I walk round my clients’ offices it doesn’t seem people really do much work. Sure they look busy, but it’s just that — ‘busy work’. At the end of the day, when they finish work, what have they actually done? Replied to a few emails, answered some telephone calls, done a teleconference where they said nothing, thus contributing zero and shuffled a few files around on their desk. That’s not work! That’s faux work. You will never achieve very much in your life if that is what you do all day every day. I’m sorry to say it, but your life will be meaningless.

Having recently done some research into people who have achieved amazing things in their professional life by following their passions for a book I am writing, I noted that these achievers put their passions first. Their social life, and now their social media life, has always come very far down their list of priorities. Sure they interacted with their friends and family, but when they are working, they are working. They are not checking their social media feeds or email every few minutes. To them life is about creating something great. And that is their priority.

You don’t have to quit social media or stop going out with your friends and family to achieve things. You just need to set your daily priorities better. You don’t even have to spend eight hours a day working on your projects. One or two hours a day on the project you really want to work on will drive you forward. This could be writing a book, getting fit and losing weight, learning to play a musical instrument or anything else you feel passionate about. All it takes is one or two hours a day. But for those one or two hours a day you need to be focussed. Your phone and other devices should off and it should be complete focus. It’s not hard and I can promise you from my own experience you really do not miss anything by being off the grid for a while. Your messages will still be there, your friends social media posts will still be there to view and the world is not going to end.

The truth is you are not really busy. Of course you may feel like you are busy, and there will be times when many things need finishing at the same time. But giving yourself one or two hours a day of focussed, uninterrupted time will allow you to get the things that are important to you done. And when you do that, you will be focussed on your priorities and not on meaningless tasks that give you the impression you are busy, but don’t go anywhere to help you achieve anything.

Carl Pullein is the author of Your Digital Life: Everything you need to know to get your life organised and put technology to work for you, a book about how to get yourself organised in the twenty-first century.

I help people learn to manage their lives and their time so they can experience joy and build a life they are truly proud of.

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