“Just do it” was the slogan that made Nike a household name. While at the time it was just a simple saying plastered all over t-shirts and promotional materials, I now understand it in a completely different light. These words held true for so many people and resonated all over the globe for a reason: at some point, you have to look past your to-do list and just get it done.
I remember watching my dad run a successful business completely on his own, with little more help than a secretary, while also taking care of my family without any help. He got us up for school, packed our lunches and on the bus, then took off for a 12-hour day of dealing with customers, and finished all in time to coach our basketball teams in the evening. As a contractor and sole business owner, he was on the hook for just about everything. I wanted to emulate him in every aspect of my professional life; to get it done, no fuss about it. Just as he was the strongest asset of my house, my dad was the entire backbone of his business.
Yet, never once did I ever hear him utter “I am so stressed out” or “I’m so busy.” An immediate killer of productivity and morale, these words simply remained unsaid in our home. We took what came and handled it without lamenting how much we had on our plates. I’m not saying that we never complained or took time for ourselves; I’m merely saying that these statements have power, and we were aware of it.
Using either of these expressions does three things: reduces your credibility to whomever you’re speaking with, undercuts your efficiency, and negatively impacts your mental health.
As a working woman in commercial property management, I have never valued this lesson more. This industry will take everything you have and give you very little if you fall victim to its challenges. High-stress and fast-paced, property management is not for the faint of heart. “I’m so busy” holds absolutely no weight, because everyone is busy, and even saying this just makes it look like you’re wasting time. Which you are.
In a world where everyone feels the need to broadcast what they’re doing in their lives, it’s easy to imagine “busy-ness” as a virtue. It’s good to be productive and accomplished at work, but going into a self-aggrandizing speech only undermines the effort you’ve been putting in. Let your actions impress people and your work speak for itself.
Moreover, your brain listens to what you tell it. If you are constantly wrestling with thoughts like “I’m so stressed,” believe me, you will be stressed. When you say things like this, you get wrapped up in thinking about what needs to get done before you actually start. Thinking this way only wastes time and exponentially increases your stress levels. Anytime I’ve ever started to tell myself that I have too much going on, I start to crumble under the pressure. I know this is true, because I make more mistakes and am off my game.
I started taking a lap or two around my office or going downstairs away from everyone, taking a few deep breaths, and visiting thoughts that make me happy. Instead of ruminating over my to-do list, I choose to consider what truly makes me who I am, and remember what I can handle and where I want to be one day. If I’m really overwhelmed, I tell myself to do what I can for the rest of the day and then take a break to recharge my batteries. Whenever I feel myself falling into the rhetoric trap and I can’t take a break, I think of my dad or my boss, both of whom handle more on a daily basis than I can imagine. Then, I think of how they never once lament how difficult their positions are. Fresh off of this visual, I envision making them and myself proud.
Being oh-so busy or stressed is a self-fulfilling prophecy that will ultimately come true if you let it. We are all busy and stressed: take breaks when you need to, and if it’s too much, form a plan to make your life more manageable. Take pride in the fact that you bite off more than you can chew, and don’t discredit your work by showing your fatigue or heralding your schedule. As Barbara Corcoran says, taking on more than you can handle is the first step to success. Furthermore, understanding how to be your own advocate will take you far in the workplace, and handling pressure professionally is vital to doing it effectively.
So start today: knock out your most difficult task, and ask for no favors. Dictate your image, dictate your career, and don’t discredit yourself by saying the words “I’m so busy.”
Paige is a Millennial resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin working full-time at a commercial real estate firm. She believes that your financial health can be approached much like your physical health: you get out what you put in. She wants to help others navigate this learning curve and motivate people to take their health as seriously as their credit score.
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