“I have so much going on, I just can’t keep up! I have a pitch to write, a news release to send out, media contacts to reach out to and an event to manage. I’m drowning in the mountain of paper on my desk and I have meetings all day!”
We’ve all been there. Sometimes we’re so busy we forget to eat. While we often feel like being busy is a hassle, Melissa K. Flynn argues in the recent issue of The Public Relations Strategist that we take pride in being busy because it makes us feel important. As humans, constantly feeling needed gives us a sense of status and rank. On the other hand, we tend to associate leisure time with weakness and unimportance, but history and neuroscience tell us a different story. “At our most idle, our brains are most open to inspiration and creativity,” summarized Bridgid Schulte of The Washington Post.
The busyness of our lives has launched a full takeover of our brains. We talk to others with our heads buried in our smartphones, we’re slaves to email notifications, we micromanage our multiple color-coded calendars, and we’ve generally lost the ability to focus on one thing at a time. As public relations professionals, it’s easy to get wrapped up the cliché fast-paced PR hustle. Are we swapping being effective and successful communicators for the pride of calling ourselves “busy”? Are we still maintaining our responsibilities to our clients and publics or are we burying ourselves in technology and claiming frustration? Are we really doing the best job we can do?
In her article, Flynn mentions that the best PR people are ones who never seem busy. They have meaningful and attentive interactions that make each and every person feel that they’re getting undivided attention. Those PR professionals are able to maintain valuable and mutually beneficial career relationships. While so many people are inattentive these days, being fully focused in conversation has become much more noticeable and appreciated. Though retraining our brains is difficult, consciously choosing “un-busyness” isn’t impossible. Flynn offers five simple tips to get us started:
- Put people first
- Keep technology off the table
- Build in time to think and create
- Celebrate time “off” as much as time “on”
- Take pride in written letters
Consider the infinite possibilities if we give our brains time to decompress from the busyness that we claim consumes our lives. We’ll be more innovative, creative and personable. Communicators, I challenge you to retrain your brains!