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Are You Fake Busy?

Are you really as busy as you claim to be?

When people ask you: “how’s business,” how do you respond? I’m often told:

“it’s crazy busy!”

Busy is cool. Busy is socially acceptable. Busy suggests ambition, courage, and striving. Nothing says ‘I’m giving it some’ like busy.

So, I’m going to ask you straight out: are you genuinely busy or are you fake busy?

The subject of fake busy came from a chat I had a few months ago with an adviser who was working through the process of letting some clients go. This adviser had started saying ‘no‘ to any new enquiries that didn’t meet his new minimum criteria.

He told me:

“I’ve just turned away a client that, up until yesterday, I would have taken. I know they would have generated £1,000 of income, but I said no.”

We then discussed how he felt about his decision to decline the job. ‘Uncomfortable’ is the best descriptor. It would have been more comfortable for him to jump back into old habits and say ‘yes’…but he knew that wasn’t going to get him and his business where he wanted to go.

So, he felt uncomfortable doing less work that week, but at least he was uncomfortable for the right reasons.

What’s the real issue here?

Because the adviser turned down the job, he was free to contemplate:

How do I attract more of the right types of clients that meet my new minimum criteria?

I’m sure you’ll agree that that’s a much more productive and courageous way to spend the week, rather than just doing more of the same old stuff for not enough reward. Or, as I call it, being fake busy.

How many of the jobs that you work on each week would fall into the ‘fake busy’ category?

I’m pretty sure we’ve all got at least some of those jobs – nobody’s perfect. However, the business owners that get ahead and become successful do less fake busy and more productive, high-priority work than those that don’t. Unless you’re really looking closely at what you do every day, it’s easy to think that busy equals progress. It ain’t necessarily so.

Week to week it’s easy to believe that these choices don’t matter too much. Yet, added up over time they become the difference between achieving your dreams and not achieving them.

Think about this for a second: If you could only work 50% of the hours you currently work (say, due to a serious illness), how much of your current revenue do you think you could generate?

I’m guessing the answer is not 50%. It’s probably more like 70% or 80% or even higher. This begs the question:

“What are you working on that takes up the rest of your time?”

Get rid of the fake busy-ness in your business by setting limits. Business owners often think:

“I’ll work less / take more time off / change my priorities when x is all sorted out.”

In fact, the opposite is true.

If you set strict time limits at work and commit to your time off, you’re far more likely to manage your time more efficiently and become more productive. So give it a go. Keep notes on what you are working on this week and see if you can spot any fake busy signs or issues.

Getting rid of the busy is one of the keys to really creating the life that you went into business for.


My experience

Before Deb and I got married (14 years ago in Australia), my business partner and I were hard workers. We started early, finished late and often worked weekends.

When I got married, Deb wanted time limits for my working hours!

It was only when these limits were in place that I was forced to work more creatively and actually solve business problems. Prior to that my business partner and I would just do whatever it took to get the job done; we worked hard, but not smart.

Setting limits made me more productive, efficient and made the fake busy days a thing of the past.


Tweet: Nothing says 'I'm giving it some' like busy. #areyoufakebusy? @BrettDavidson

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