When did this become an acceptable excuse?
July 17th, 2019
We are all busy. Frankly, we are probably busier than we have ever been. For many, the 40-hour week is a thing of the past, 45 or even 50-plus hours is the new normal. Even kids are busier with scheduled play dates, sports team practices and games, dance competitions, academic tutoring, Boys and Girls Scouts, 4H… the list is endless. One town in Massachusetts is having an issue with the pressures being put on kindergartners. There is concern that kindergartners are spending so much time learning to read well and become proficient in academics that they are no longer spending enough time being able to learn through play. These 5- and 6-year-old kids are telling their parents that they don’t want to go to school and that they, in fact, hate school.
Work, for many, is no better. So many of us are being asked to do more and more in our jobs. Talk to a lot of people and they will tell you the expectations at their workplace are off the charts. With modern technology, many are permanently tethered to their place of employment. When I was a kid, it was rare that my mom or dad would receive a call from their employer, or a co-worker, needing something on a weekend. In those days, there were no computers or laptops, so when you went on vacation you were truly unplugged. That ship has sailed for a lot of us.
Suffice it to say, I understand that we are all busy. What I fail to understand is… when did this become an acceptable excuse for not doing your job or being unresponsive to clients or vendors? Lately, this has become the excuse of the day for many people. At FUN Enterprises we have seen a rash of it in recent months. You would be shocked at the number of emails or phone calls that we receive where the opening statement is, I’m really sorry that I didn’t respond but I have been so busy with Spring Week, Orientation, the end of our fiscal year, we have had a ton of events going on, or my boss just dumped a bunch of projects on me. This issue is crossing all our markets. It is not restricted to just one or two, but all of them. Some of these people that are too busy to respond, are asking us to donate things to them. Sorry guys, this is not an acceptable excuse. You simply need to be better and to figure this out.
Here is really where I need to watch myself. There is great temptation for me to say, “I understand you are busy, we, on the other hand, are simply sitting here twiddling our thumbs watching countless episodes of Ellen.” In other words, we are busy, too. Don’t get me wrong, I make mistakes and there are times when I take too long to get back to a client or respond to an email, but that is on me and I never reply that I’ve been too busy to respond. Often, I allow myself to get distracted, perhaps I take poor notes or don’t set a reminder that I need to get back to them. Regardless of the reason, it is not that I am too busy (although it often feels that way), it is that I am poorly organized. If we are being brutally honest, we all make time for what is important. For me, it is going to the gym. Regardless of what I am doing or how late I am in the office, I go to the gym. This is a choice I am making. This choice has an impact because I choose this over doing something else. One of the consequences of my choice is that I am painfully unaware of many of the hit TV shows or movies. I can live with that.
Here is what people don’t seem to realize, others can’t really do their jobs until you provide the information that they are waiting for. I can’t really send you a contract if I have no idea of the date, time, location, or even the program that you want. Mark can’t do the graphics for your event that includes your logo when you haven’t sent him your logo. If we must email or call you countless times to get the information we need, it makes our jobs so much harder and frankly, that much busier. These issues are not unique to us. Whether it is in our field or a totally unrelated field, if you don’t have the information you need to proceed, the process comes to a grinding halt. Imagine going to a pizza place and telling them you want a pizza but giving them no additional information as to size or toppings and then yelling at them 15 minutes later when you do not have a pizza in front of you. Most of us would realize that is not the fault of the chef, that responsibility lies with you.
So, what is the solution? Start each day with a SMALL list of tasks that you must accomplish. Prioritize your emails and try not to touch an email multiple times; read it, respond to it, file it. Try keeping a notepad or a checklist on your desk and update it frequently. If you are mobile, keep it in your car or on your phone. Remember, as my mother always said, “Poor prior planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” All of us want to do a good job, we just need people to be more organized and respectful of the fact that we are all busy.
Ken Abrahams is the Co-Owner, President and VP for Client Relations of FUN Enterprises. He has been in the entertainment field for over 30 years. As a matter of fact, he predates common use of cell phones, the Internet and home delivery of McDonald’s Big Macs. He is an avid watcher of people and enjoys writing his blogs on business and social commentary. By the way, he is never too busy for you.
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