Though it certainly extends beyond our world, it seems that entrepreneurs wear busyness as a status symbol throughout every avenue of our lives. We use it as an excuse to get out of volunteering to help others, spending time with our families, eating and exercising poorly, and so much more. When friends ask us how we’re doing, a popular response has become “Busy, but good…” as if the answer will earn us the respect of our peers. This epidemic has become so prevalent that recent research from the University of Chicago has shown that we physically fear inactivity. While reasons for this fear vary in the research, from fear of failure to covering up hidden laziness, what’s clear is that this level of being busy isn’t a sign of your success- in fact, it’s choking the life out of you and your company.
Curing your addiction to being busy doesn’t mean that you won’t go through stretches when you have a lot to do. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be long days and late nights. It also doesn’t mean that you’ll be walking on clouds of stress-free living. What a reduction in your level of being busy can mean though is that you actually have capacity to think about problems that require complex solutions, will have the ability to enjoy the life you’re creating for you and your family, and that you’ll have capacity to grow your business. Being busy means that you have too much to do and are risking working on project with a low return on the time you’re investing and that could be outsourced to someone else.
Being Busy Doesn’t Mean That You’re Making Wise, Profitable Decisions
Inevitably, being busy means that you don’t have time to invest in critical decision making. While there is certainly merit to trusting your instincts and refusing to allow “paralysis by analysis,” making hasty decisions without consulting data or your team can lead to poor decisions. Research even shows that when we make quick decisions under stress, we tend to regret the choice even if it turns out to be a good decision! If you’re too busy as a business owner to invest time into making wise choices, it’s vital that you take some of the time-consuming, task-oriented off your plate. Your key value to your company is your brain power and your insightfulness, which is why some of the most successful churches and businesses invest in having regular time off for their leadership.
Being Busy Doesn’t Mean That You’re Happy
Did you know that it’s ok to be a happy business owner? If your friends doubt you, tell them that your CPA told you that it’s alright! All kidding aside, it seems like worry, busyness, and stress become so pervasive in business ownership that we think that it simply comes with the territory on a daily basis. That just doesn’t have to be the case! A wise man once told me “Being busy is kind of like sitting in a rocking chair- it always gives you something to do, but you’ll never get anywhere.” He’s right- if your constant running back and forth to meetings that you dread with people that you can’t stand, you’ll be miserable and you’ll likely not be doing your best work.
Here’s a practice we like to take our friends through- think of your favorite client. The one you look forward to speaking to and you don’t cringe when you see their number pop up on your phone. You don’t worry when you see an email from them in your inbox. The reason they’re your favorite can vary- maybe it’s simply that they pay in a timely fashion, that they’re quite profitable for you, or that they’re simply a pleasure to do business with. Make explicit business decisions to grow your business toward this type of client, even to the detriment of your other clients.
Being Busy Doesn’t Mean That You’re Growing Your Business
Too often we conflate being busy with business growth, and the reality is that we think that it often starts from a good place. You have confidence in your skillset and know that you can get a job done quickly and to your satisfaction. This can often lead to a boss that is “tripping over dollars to pick up dimes,” meaning your focus is on tasks that produce a lower return on investment than others you could be doing. Business owners do this for a variety of reasons, from pride, a lack of confidence in their team, or a lack of a schedule.
Go back to your vision of your ideal client- imagine if another one just like it become available today. Would you even have the capacity to respond in a timely manner? If you’re too busy doing low ROI tasks, the answer could easily be no.