Monday, March 22, 2010 | 9:52 a.m.
There is an old adage, “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” It certainly seems true that busy people do get things done, but I wanted to know why. I decided to poll a few people I know who are very effective in their work to find out.
Before I describe my findings, I want to establish a common definition of what I mean by a busy person. For the purposes of this article, a busy person is one who is sought after for his specific specialty because he does it well. He is the one who always has something to do and he is the one everyone chooses to help them when a task needs to be accomplished. He is not the unorganized, multi-tasker who swoops in with a flurry of activity but never really accomplishes much beyond creating chaos. The busy person I refer to is a performer and, because of his ability, is busy. He works on important things, not just busywork!
With that said, here are my findings:
Busy people are organized. It didn’t come as a surprise to that the people with whom I spoke, those who were busy and accomplished, were also very organized. Although there were a few exceptions to this rule, in most cases these busy people knew what they were working on, how long it would take, what resources they needed, when they needed resources, and they had a path to follow including contingencies. They spent the time necessary to plan an appropriate course of action. At times, these people didn’t appear to be as busy as the person next to them with the overflowing desk, but their workload and accomplishments indicated otherwise.
Busy people delegate. One of the ways top performers get things done is through timely and appropriate delegation. They have mastered the art of what and to whom tasks should be delegated. They also are accomplished in keeping track of the delegated work and provide support to their team. This keeps them from putting their team members in a panic or crisis mode and eliminates the need for micromanaging. I was told that when delegating, it is important to keep in touch with what the entire team is working on and ensure that all involved are communicating effectively among themselves.
Busy people spend time planning. The busiest people with whom I spoke were also the calmest. It was explained to me that one is not nervous working a well-thought-out plan. Busy people spend the time it takes to develop a solid work plan. When I asked how they were able to find the extra time it takes to plan, I was told that it didn’t require additional time to plan. The time it takes to plan is more than offset by the more effective use of time executing the plan. The high performers also explained that without a well-thought-out plan, people begin working on tasks that may or may not be relevant to the overall goals of the project. The plan is the key. Spending the appropriate time planning will ensure that the work meets its objectives, that tasks are sequenced well, and time is use effectively.
Busy people are driven. The busy people with whom I spoke were all very successful. I already knew that; they didn’t need to tell me. In fact, the busy people acted with a cool confidence that clearly told me that they knew they were successful and didn’t need outside recognition of that fact. They are driven by a need to succeed and to do a great job, and internal satisfaction is their reward.
The conclusion I draw to the adage, “if you want something done, ask a busy person,” is that busy people get things done because they are organized, driven and the are effective delegators. Most importantly, busy people get things done because they plan their work well to ensure its success.
Until next time…