I ran into a friend a few days ago and when I asked her how she was doing, she looked at me and said: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”
Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”
How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?
Busy has become a badge of honor, particularly for entrepreneurs and business builders. The more you sell and the more clients you have, the more you are valued, seen as important, and worthy.
For many years, my worth was tied to my BUSY job — who was I if I wasn’t the Director of Sales for the Western Region? I had to wrestle with that question when I decided not to return to the corporate world and chose to start a new business doing something completely different.
But my busyness simply carried over into a new role as an entrepreneur – one where it became even more acceptable to be busy all the time. Working a few evenings a week turned into working a half day on Saturday and then I slowly started finding ways to justify why I was working all the time.
“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”
– Tim Ferriss
The Disease of Being “Busy”
Here’s what I’ve realized. Many of us are afflicted with the disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease). It's spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.
For some of us, the work at home entrepreneurs, the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are connected to work. All. The. Freaking. Time.
One of my own struggles is balancing all of the tasks that I must get done every day while still having a meaningful life, a sense of community, and a balanced existence.
I’m currently challenging my own relationship with work in new ways. Because how else am I going to be able to truly serve my clients unless I’m taking the time to unplug and be at ease?
As entrepreneurs, we have the freedom to create our own schedules and if we are stressed and busy it’s our own damn fault.
To think BIG and have breakthroughs you must create space to think. You have to have time to learn, grow, and recharge properly.
To create great things you need to create space in your schedule to breathe. Just like a writer or an artist has to start with a blank page, you have to create some white space in your life for creativity and your best work to happen.
I’ve recently made a commitment to create space in my life by taking the last week of every month off through the summer. I’ve thought about doing this for the past two years and starting this month, my wife and I have blocked off the last week of every month this summer to travel, enjoy life, and connect to the things that are the most important in our lives.
As my coach Dana Corey just said to me this week, “An important part of any business is creating your ideal business.”
So starting on Sunday, we’ll be taking the Winnebago to Timothy Lake for a few days and then retreating to the Oregon Coast for the rest of the week.
Will I do any work during that time?
I’m a work in progress after all.
The point is that I’m removing myself from my normal environment and creating space to think, to slow down, to just… be.
The RAW Truth About Being “Busy”
I used to work for two of the smartest entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Marc Andreesen and Ben Horowitz.
Last year Marc’s reported net worth was listed at $700M and Ben’s net worth was listed at $500M. Today they run one to the top VC firms in the world with $4.2 billion in assets.
Working for them was like being in advanced business bootcamp every day. Everyone in the company had higher expectations of themselves than others and it was a culture of 100% responsibility. Marc and Ben were two of the smartest, caring and most business savvy people I’ve ever met. And one of the most important things I learned from them is that busy people are not successful, and successful people aren’t busy.
What this means is that there’s a big difference between being productive and being busy. While working for Ben and Marc, there was always a clear definition of what it looked like to be busy and what it looked liked to do “smart work” and the difference between the two. And honestly, I've never been more productive in my life than when I was in that environment.
So if you’re busy, stop fooling yourself.
Being busy is just an excuse for not being disciplined enough to focus on what really matters most.
Do Less, Better
One of the questions that I ask my clients often is “what does your business need from you the most, right now?” Whatever that is, stop working on everything else and focus your time on doing fewer things, better. (And if you’re not sure about what you should be focused on, we should talk.)
The real secret to success is to have the time and energy to focus on the most interesting and important work that can create momentum in your business. Anything else is probably keeping you stuck, frustrated and “busy.”