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How to be less busy

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Andy Black

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Step 1) Realise being “busy” is NOT a good thing. It’s not a badge of honor or something to be proud of.

I was on a course given by Blaise Brosnan (I quote him a lot).

He pointed out that when you ask people how things are going in Ireland and the UK then they will often say “Busy!”, to which the standard reply is “Oh, that’s great!”.

Blaise recommended we don’t measure how well we’re doing by how busy we are.

He suggested we stop using the word “busy” when people ask how we’re doing, and to stop thinking busy is good.

Realising being busy isn’t a good thing is the most important step.

Here’s some practical tips:

2) Addicted to social media? Can you lean into it and make this your lead generation channel? Alternatively, see the desire to hop onto social media as your Lizard Brain trying to distract you from important work - so thank your Lizard Brain for letting you know you're about to do important work, and knuckle down.

3) Work less hours. Set strict deadlines to get tasks done. You'll do the task better anyway.

4) Know that perfectionism is the cousin of procrastination, and both are fear of shipping. Just ship already and stop being busy building stuff.

5) Unsubscribe from EVERYTHING that doesn't help you at exactly this stage in your journey. There is far too much content out there trying to turn you into their consumer. You can find what you want later on when you actually need it (the teacher appears when you're ready right?). Set email filters to move everything else into a "To Read" folder so it's not in your inbox. Read them sometime at the weekend, OR if you find you don't even bother, then go ahead and unsubscribe.

6) Burn these Blaise Brosnan lines into your brains:

“You can’t invoice for input.”

“The market doesn’t pay for activity.”
 

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Jsoh

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Step 1) Realise being “busy” is NOT a good thing. It’s not a badge of honor or something to be proud of.
Yeah Andy, I agree here. I realized that most of the things I thought were actually getting me closer to sales was just handicapping my time. Time that I could spend with my family, friends, and loved ones.

3) Work less hours. Set strict deadlines to get tasks done. You'll do the task better anyway.
+1
 

Sheens

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7) Learn When to Say No. Incredibly more difficult than saying yes.

We've all heard it before but it is important to learn and differentiate between the times that serving on another board,
or doing those few extra tasks,
or joining another group is actually for the best.

Not to construe this with an excuse to be selfish,
or not having the guts to put yourself out there to meet people,
or not give back to those you support.

I am 1000% for giving more than you receive.

This pertains more to those that are 'busy' because they truly are giving so much that they don't have the time to receive or work on their own business, family, self...
 

Timmy C

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7) Learn When to Say No. Incredibly more difficult than saying yes.

We've all heard it before but it is important to learn and differentiate between the times that serving on another board,
or doing those few extra tasks,
or joining another group is actually for the best.

Not to construe this with an excuse to be selfish,
or not having the guts to put yourself out there to meet people,
or not give back to those you support.

I am 1000% for giving more than you receive.

This pertains more to those that are 'busy' because they truly are giving so much that they don't have the time to receive or work on their own business, family, self...
Learning when to say no is something I am a fan of these days.
 
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Andy Black

Andy Black

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7) Learn When to Say No. Incredibly more difficult than saying yes.

We've all heard it before but it is important to learn and differentiate between the times that serving on another board,
or doing those few extra tasks,
or joining another group is actually for the best.

Not to construe this with an excuse to be selfish,
or not having the guts to put yourself out there to meet people,
or not give back to those you support.

I am 1000% for giving more than you receive.

This pertains more to those that are 'busy' because they truly are giving so much that they don't have the time to receive or work on their own business, family, self...
Great point! Thanks for adding that one. Saying No can be a very difficult thing to do for many people - due to their personality and/or the way they’ve been brought up.

I’m guilty as charged.

I’ve a really hard time saying No, because I’m so interested in speaking to people, and so curious whether I can help them, and how.

It’s my natural tendency, and I don’t want to totally shut it down, but still get a handle on it.

Instead of having to say No more often I set things in place where the battle is won earlier (much like @MJ DeMarco says your battle against eating crap is won in the supermarket by not adding them to your trolley).

I like chatting to folks, but now push people to book into my calendar - which naturally spreads them out throughout the week.

I like helping folks, but point people to threads I’ve written that should help, rather than keep repeating myself.

I shutdown a forum and Facebook group that I’d setup - so that I’m not so available. I can now pop into TFLF and various Facebook groups, engage for a short period of time, then pop out again.

What else do I do:

I have a consultancy/agency where I can personally help up to 30 clients in various verticals. I know I can’t take on any more and personally manage them all (and 30 feels a bit too much when I occasionally hit it). It becomes easy to say No when I know I would be doing them a disservice by saying Yes.

Ahem... I don’t advertise and try and get any more people asking me to help them. The way I’m setup means I can’t cope with dealing with more prospects and having more clients. I’m working on this because it means I can’t grow with my current business model.
 

astr0

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Totally agree that being "busy" is not a good a thing.

But what to do if I'm busy with really important tasks?
Zero social media, news, tv, friends and other distractions already.
No perfectionism, get sh1t done asap mode.
Zero priority subscriptions to anything even left the current project's telegram group to not get distracted reading chats there (was on mute before).
The only two things I can cut are this forum, which I'm visiting more to get at least some relax and my 9-5. I don't mind not getting paid the last salary on 9-5 and even burn bridges, but only one week left...

And the tasks that I'm busy with are
  • Fix bugs and build monitoring & notifications that something's wrong to reduce churn and refunds.
  • A couple of small features that would increase product usage for existing clients, and we micro-charge per usage, not SaaS or anything.
  • A major feature that would probably bring us 30% more users since they were looking for this, and also significantly increase the usage for existing users.
There are a couple of more, but everything's like that and are pretty urgent. For example the last task worth almost 50% of my current salary in my share of recurring revenue...

So I guess being busy with these circumstances is the only way, right?
 
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Andy Black

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Totally agree that being "busy" is not a good a thing.

But what to do if I'm busy with really important tasks?
Zero social media, news, tv, friends and other distractions already.
No perfectionism, get sh1t done asap mode.
Zero priority subscriptions to anything even left the current project's telegram group to not get distracted reading chats there (was on mute before).
The only two things I can cut are this forum, which I'm visiting more to get at least some relax and my 9-5. I don't mind not getting paid the last salary on 9-5 and even burn bridges, but only one week left...

And the tasks that I'm busy with are
  • Fix bugs and build monitoring & notifications that something's wrong to reduce churn and refunds.
  • A couple of small features that would increase product usage for existing clients, and we micro-charge per usage, not SaaS or anything.
  • A major feature that would probably bring us 30% more users since they were looking for this, and also significantly increase the usage for existing users.
There are a couple of more, but everything's like that and are pretty urgent. For example the last task worth almost 50% of my current salary in my share of recurring revenue...

So I guess being busy with these circumstances is the only way, right?
Sounds like you’re busy serving clients/customers in ways that will add more value and get you paid more. I’d say that’s better than most (including me as I seem to have spent today on Facebook and in the forum ... albeit it is a Saturday).

A good book I recommend that takes this much further is “Work Less. Earn More” by James Schramko.
 

Sheens

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So I guess being busy with these circumstances is the only way, right?
Andy stated it so well!

I went back to read through your outside progress thread and it is readily apparent that you are in the heat of a grind! This is a different level of 'busy.'

Software is by far not my dominant language. Even so, I know you are doing awesome $hit to move you and yours up and out. At this point, work really is all of your time.

Is it the only way? No.

Is it going to get you farther? Quite likely.

How about other changes? I sincerely hope you can give up the energy drinks! (As a dentist and because I care about more than your teeth. (Heh, should this be a commercial? :)))

Your family time has also come up in your thread. For some, that can give the most joy and the strongest 'why.'

The next "Now" might be to not even glance at your phone or computer while spending a couple of hours completely with them instead of troubleshooting your NDA.


For any of us:


Step 8) Define boundaries. With business partners, family, and friends. Any and all of them that apply to your time. (Some may need stronger legal contracts!)

At the risk of sounding cold-hearted, it's actually to keep time out of every day or week precious and irrevocable to those that matter.

If doing 'it' gets you to the next level, then it absolutely matters.

And if 'it' gets you to the next level at the cost of those you love or respect, can you do better?
 

astr0

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I went back to read through your outside progress thread and it is readily apparent that you are in the heat of a grind! This is a different level of 'busy.'

Software is by far not my dominant language. Even so, I know you are doing awesome $hit to move you and yours up and out. At this point, work really is all of your time.

Is it the only way? No.

Is it going to get you farther? Quite likely.

How about other changes? I sincerely hope you can give up the energy drinks! (As a dentist and because I care about more than your teeth. (Heh, should this be a commercial? :)))

Your family time has also come up in your thread. For some, that can give the most joy and the strongest 'why.'

The next "Now" might be to not even glance at your phone or computer while spending a couple of hours completely with them instead of troubleshooting your NDA.
*** Offtopic
Thanks for reading, you're probably the only one who got to the end :).

Definitely could do it differently, without getting myself into this situation. Although, quite likely the results would be different then too.

I'm almost done with the energy drinks already, only drinking them when I really have to or at least don't know another way to get focused really fast.

Sure, no distractions with business and no distractions for the family. They are more important and my why matters only with them. I try to allocate at least an hour a day to spend with them, even if I'm really busy and an hour more for taking my daughter to the kindergarten and back. That's not much, but things should change after I quit the job giving me 8.5 hours more in a day.

Step 8) Define boundaries. With business partners, family, and friends. Any and all of them that apply to your time. (Some may need stronger legal contracts!)

At the risk of sounding cold-hearted, it's actually to keep time out of every day or week precious and irrevocable to those that matter.

If doing 'it' gets you to the next level, then it absolutely matters.

And if 'it' gets you to the next level at the cost of those you love or respect, can you do better?
^^ this is uber important. Not doing it can really destroy relationships, especially with people who don't understand what's you're doing and why. Or if it's "temporary", but lasts for half a year already.

Same with business partners/clients. You're already working with them probably more than spending time with friends and family, so they shouldn't have a right to interrupt you from everything else that's more important to you.

Update:
@Andy Black I've noticed that you're listening to a lot of podcasts. It that only something that might help you with the current stage of the journey or you feel it falls to #5 Unsubscribe? That's really good content though. Are you listening to them while doing something else?
 
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Andy Black

Andy Black

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@Andy Black I've noticed that you're listening to a lot of podcasts. It that only something that might help you with the current stage of the journey or you feel it falls to #5 Unsubscribe? That's really good content though. Are you listening to them while doing something else?
I go through stages of not consuming but putting my head down and taking action. Then I seem to naturally come up for air and need to take a break, have a think, adjust, then put my head down again.

At the minute I'm listening to podcasts when I'm travelling to the UK to visit my mum. It's a 5-6 hour trip door to door. I don't always listen to stuff then though. Sometimes I like to just let my brain think.
 

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Matt Hunt

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I love this! You're right, it seems like it's the popular thing these days to be "busy" and to work long hours. I think sometimes we feel like we're being productive if we give ourselves a lot of tasks to complete, but this is not often the most valuable use of our time.
 
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Andy Black

Andy Black

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Next time someone asks you how you're doing, don't reply with "Busy" thinking that's a good thing.

Being busy is not the goal, and being busy isn't automatically a good thing.
 

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