Busy vs. Intentional Action

Busy vs intentional

I did it to myself. After a busy weekend taking care of family responsibilities and having a little R&R, I opened my calendar Monday morning. As I reviewed my day and my week, I looked at a meeting happening Monday evening. It wasn’t my meeting, but I provide some leadership development for this group. I knew there was some homework that wasn’t done to support an important discussion at the meeting, so I set aside my business to do list to work on the assignment.

The cost?

My work is behind.  I was busy, rather than focusing on the intentional action that will move my business forward. No one forced me to do this.  I made the decision to prioritize the urgent over the important work for my business.

I’m Not Alone

There is no doubt I’m not alone. Many systems have been designed…. many books have been written…. all addressing the struggle of busyness vs. intentional action.

Urgent Vs. Important

Stephen Covey, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, refers to this as focusing on the urgent, rather than the important.  A focus on the urgent, such as my task for the meeting, rather than the important work to move my business forward propels me into constant firefighting mode, as nothing important gets done until it becomes urgent.

To be honest, it’s exhausting….and counterproductive.

The 90 Day Year Model

Instead of constantly fighting fires, over the last year I’ve been moving toward a 90 Day Year model of managing projects so I can accomplish my professional and personal goals. It’s still a work in progress, but it allows me to block time for intentional action to accomplish my goals in a strategic way. A big shout out to Teresa McCloy for her ReaLife Productivity Process in helping me develop these habits.

Thinking about my quarter, my month, my week and my day in the framework of accomplishing two to three goals ONLY and then moving on to the next series of projects to reach my goals streamlines decision-making and moves many potential urgent tasks to the “unnecessary/not going to do it” category.

This frees me to determine what is mine to do and what I need to delegate. It helps me focus on my important tasks more often.

Choosing to Move the Needle

Being busy isn’t always doing what matters most. In my experience, being busy often means I’m either addressing someone else’s priority or dealing with a fire drill, because I didn’t take action on an important task earlier. This means I’m not taking action that will really move the needle – whether for my business or in the volunteer roles I choose to assume.

Intentional action, on the other hand, is doing those important, strategic actions that make a bigger impact. These actions get a response from those you are serving.  Your customers know you are talking to them when you take intentional action. In business, serving your customers is what counts. Busy means you’re moving, but are you taking action to serve your customer in those movements?

As you can tell from my story in today’s post, I’m not perfect.  But I’m getting so much better at staying focused on the intentional actions to accomplish my goals.

How do you stay focused on the intentional actions you need to take to accomplish your professional and personal goals?

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