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Being busy is a crime

I used to think that being busy was a good thing, something to aspire to, an achievement. It’s not, though, not really – it suggests that you are not efficient enough to get stuff done quicker. Or maybe you’re a desperate soul, clinging to the belief that your “busyness” will make up for your lack of delivery, or performance.

Stretching a point to make a point, if you can meet your role’s core needs in 10 hrs a week then surely you are more valuable than if you took 35hrs? Ah, “what about the waste” and “the devil makes work for idle hands“, I hear you shout. Poppycock, I say, your best ideas come when you are not grinding away and the “devil” in the idle hands saying is really a form of disruptive thinking – which is good.

Exactly the same applies to calendars. We’ve all met the busy fools who spend their entire time in toxic meetings (not actually delivering anything). That’s all just a recipe to fill your time. Avoid meetings, keep them short and when a real opportunity comes along you’ll be able to spend time on it immediately and not “wait 3 weeks until you’ve got a slot free in your diary”.

Empty space means that YOU control your time, and that you do not have to bend to other people’s schedules and wants. If you want to work from home and play a round of golf at 3pm, you can do so. If you want to spend the morning thinking through a perplexing but promising new strategy, you can. That is power. It’s not about having a million things to do. Everyone has a million things to do. The ultimate sign of success is having a million things to do but only doing a few of them.

So the next time you ask someone how they are doing, and they answer “busy”, take pity on them and offer your sincerest apologies. Being busy, is then, a crime against business, and your family.

POST NOTE: Great article from The Telepgraph, When working all hours takes a terrible toll. Whilst not directly related to the article above, clearly shows that working flat-out for the rest of your life is not a good idea.

by Martin Dower