Growing club of busy managers, always paddling in circles

Heard this before? “I need to meet you, but I am too busy to confirm”. 

Or: “I’ve had a frantic week, but I am not too sure how effective it’s been”. 

How about: “Sorry, I’m late. I was just finishing off my blog – it’s sooo interesting”. 

I am sure you get the drift. How many of us are busy managers, but with no time for what we want or need to do? A few years ago, if found myself admitting that I invariably left for meetings late. Looking for an explanation, I realised that I often tried to cram in one last task before setting out. That way, if I was late, I could explain to others how busy I was – ie, I assumed they would think that I am an important person. 

Was I that convincing to everyone? Did I not miss out on some of the networking prior to the meeting? Did I make a full contribution to the discussion? All those points were non-issues in my mind, back then. 

Time management is often one of those subjects that we believe that we are good at. Quite often, the truth can be otherwise. The number of people I meet who tell me that they are too busy to meet. Why? Because they have to take a kid to the doctor, cannot be sure when a previous meeting will end, are waiting to hear back from others, or need to take the cat for a walk. 

But they are busy. Doing what? Well, a lot of something, with little control nor direction.  

Let’s recall the picture of Israel’s Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, with his kids of holiday a few weeks back. Smiling away, sitting on the back of a kayak, his paddle stroking through the water. Idyllic! Except that all the others were paddling in a different direction! 

Ignoring the obvious satire of Israeli governmental policy going around in circles etc, this is what happens to CEOs. Busy, they are. Working efficiently, they are not. And the result can be readily detected in weak cash flows or awkward meetings with bank managers. 

Michael McLaughlin, writing in Management Consulting News has summed up this pattern  eloquently: 

Often, though, it’s not just that we need more time to address the items on our to-do lists. What we really need is the chance to think, plan the future, and come up with new ideas for our businesses. ….. It takes mental bandwidth so you can focus and think straight. 

To do your best thinking, first and foremost, you’ve got to clear your mind. Of course, you can find tons of advice on quieting your mind through disciplines like yoga or meditation. But here’s a simpler way to get started–and you don’t have to know how to chant. 

If you want to create more mental bandwidth, wherever possible, get rid of the clutter in your life. 

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One Comment on “Growing club of busy managers, always paddling in circles”


  1. […] is less than 2 weeks ago, since I wrote this about busy managers, who paddle in circles. And despite the short space of time, the same scenario […]


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