The Busyness Curse: Are you busy or are you faking it?
Busyness in business is becoming increasingly popular. We’ve defined ourselves so much by productivity, we’re even putting our physical and mental health at risk. But under that cloak of activity can lie a deeper problem.
And that problem is confusing having things to do with the things we should actually be putting our energy into.
Here’s a guide to seeing if you are actually busy or if you are being suckered by busyness. And what you can do to break the cycle if busyness is ruling your working days.
Death by busyness meeting
I’ve written about how meeting face to face can kill your business before. Nothing chews up valuable time in busyness more than superfluous meetings.
So when is a meeting not useful?
The basic rule of thumb- if you don’t need a meeting in order to take the next step, and you don’t action something as a result of a meeting, you’re engaging in meeting related busyness.
It isn’t sexy or glamorous or proving you are in demand to have a bunch of meetings. It’s procrastinating of the highest luxury order. And it’s a sure-fire way to send the wrong message about how seriously you should be taken.
Break the meeting busyness cycle by:
- Ensuring ALL meetings are defined by their actionable outcomes
- Learn to say no to meetings that will have no direct action resulting from them
- Placing a dollar value on each meeting and tracking this as a financial cost
Busyness by phone
While picking up the phone to help clarify a situation quickly is a great idea, you need to ensure you’re not on the phone for the sake of it.
Talking about what you need to do doesn’t mean you are taking action.
Any talking about an idea tricks your brain into thinking you are taking action, so it’s best to keep it to an absolute minimum.
Attending to something quickly doesn’t mean it’s important.
We’ve trained ourselves to think non-essential items need our immediate attention simply by the speed in which they are delivered. And the phone and email are the very worst culprits. People won’t implode if you don’t take their call.
Hang up on busyness by phone by:
- Time boxing your calls. Set specific times for making and talking calls, and let voicemail do the rest
- Turning your phone and the app notifications on silent
- Treat Skype like you would a physical meeting. Only book a call that will produce results
Well planned busyness
Over planning is a magnificent way of fooling yourself into thinking you are making progress when you are not. A very close second is when progress is made by you or someone else, you are looking backwards to critique the completed work instead of planning the next stage.
Research and proper planning is extremely important, however spending time in an endless moment of contemplation and criticism can (and will) hamstring your production efforts.
Brass tacks, nobody gets it right first time. Yes, you could potentially fix that copy or re-write that sales page until the end of time, but it doesn’t mean you are any closer to testing your idea with customers.
Build your products to a standard, but allow the customer (not your navel gazing and fluff picking) to define the outcome.
Remove the well planned busyness by-
- Setting parameters to your research around key questions. And stopping when you get the answers
- Choosing a start point for your project, applying practical work, and using customer interaction inform the next level
- Stop looking backwards at what you have done, and instead look at what to do next
Networked busyness, online and off
There is no denying meeting the right people, making connections and spending time fostering new relationships is part of a successful business. But when does networking via social media or physical events turn to busyness?
It’s right about the time when it becomes a case of needing to be there to be seen as opposed to participating to satisfy a specific aim.
Spend six months attending networking events in Sydney or Melbourne, and you’ll start seeing the same faces. Catching up with a room full of 60% to 80% of people you have already met is fine if you simply want to touch base every so often. But if the aim is to expand your network for business, it’s time to call it to a halt.
There’s a huge difference between knowing someone and growing a relationship. If work, leads, sales and opportunities come from your social media and event networking efforts, go to town on that bad boy.
But if it’s increasingly becoming an excuse to get away from the desk, have a night away from the kids, a chance to have a cheeky mid-week wine, or a way of killing time on a boring day, it’s time to step off the networking busyness train.
Halt networking busyness by-
- Saying yes to opportunities where there is a specific goal or person you wish to meet
- Saying no to repeat opportunities where the relationships are not maturing
- Looking critically at why you need business peer approval to validate your social life
The bottom line on busyness
There’s no need to fluff this. You are busy. The people you interact with are busy. So identifying your moments of busyness is vital to ensuring that you make optimum use of the time you have available.
So stop blocking yourself from reaching the next level by cutting out the crappy little bits of busyness and give that time, energy and verve to something else that matters.
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