How to Avoid Being Busy. Be Focused and Increase Your Leadership Impact.

Stacey Ashley Blog

How to Avoid Being Busy. Be Focused and Increase Your Leadership Impact.

The leadership refrain for 2022:

I’m so busy.

I’m too busy.

I can’t believe how busy I am.

The team is very busy.

The problem with being so ‘busy’ is you can forget to take a step back and confirm whether you are ‘so busy’ with the right stuff.

Busy leads to stress, and perhaps long hours. Busy leads to multitasking… which we know is inefficient. Busy leads to lack of focus. Busy leads to responding to urgency only.

Busy does not necessarily mean progress, improvement, or impact.

What I find when I’m working with leaders is that busy is just a symptom, a symptom of not making the right lists. Not being sufficiently focused. Great leaders have a To Do list and they have a To Don’t list. And when you are very busy, too busy, there is a danger that too many of the things on your To Don’t list are getting your time and attention.

Sometimes we choose busy because it seems easier. All those little bits and pieces that we can do without thinking too much about them, seem a lot less daunting than some of those big strategic thinking pieces of work.

The problem with busy work is it doesn’t move the dial. It doesn’t change the way things are. So, in six months’ time if all you have been doing is busy work, you will not have made a difference for yourself, your team, or your organisation.

Every now and then it pays to step back and look at how you make a difference. Ask yourself, how you invest yourself wisely for the greatest impact?

I want you to be a leader of impact, a leader who adds value, has contribution, and makes a difference. This means you need to be doing the right things in the right way and in so doing, become invaluable.

Model_Leadership Impact

So, how do you make more impact and become invaluable?

Firstly, take a step back and have a look at the bigger picture.

I’ve talked previously about great leaders in change and emergency focusing specifically and only on the important, and this is where they make the most difference. And so, how do you figure out what this is for you?

I suggest you use the time management matrix. A really simple way of analysing your work to understand where the value lies. You should consider both urgency and impact in assessing where you can make the biggest contribution. The aim here is to spend as much of your focus and effort as possible in quadrant two, where you have highly impactful work without urgency.

Acknowledging that there will always be some work or contribution that you make in quadrant one. High impact activity with more urgency.

Model_TMM Your Target Focus

The big challenge, and objective, is to get out of quadrant three, the adrenaline quadrant. This is the busy quadrant, where you tick things off your list, but you don’t move the needle on the dial.

Quadrant 3 is your To Don’t list. Your objective is to avoid being sucked into quadrant three, where things really don’t make a difference, where they don’t matter.

You want to focus most of your time, at least 65% of your time, up in quadrant two on the things that are impactful and not yet urgent.

Once you understand what parts of your work portfolio are important, then you need to do some planning. This is about catering in your calendar for these strategic, important, high value pieces of work. Plan to focus on the high value activities.

Model_TMM - Typical Tasks

It comes down to focus.

1. Be clear about where you make the most difference.
2. Plan so that you can spend your effort focused in these areas where you make the most difference.
3. Then coach yourself to show up and be focused on the most important thing right now.

If you want to be having more of an impact and become invaluable, then you need to be doing the right things in the right way.

What is one step forward that you can take?

Make a plan. Put it in your calendar.


I’d love to know your thoughts.

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