Are you addicted to being busy?
Do you find yourself constantly busy, never being able to catch up on your to-do list? You may even wear busyness as a badge of honor.
Whenever you’re asked how you’re doing, your one and only response has become, “Oh my goodness, crazy busy!” Looking at your calendar, which is booked out three months in advance, anxiety starts to creep in, and you have no idea how to tackle all of the meetings and responsibilities. You find yourself rarely accomplishing the tasks you set out to do for the day, so you try to cram them into tomorrow’s calendar. You’re frustrated because you became an entrepreneur to have freedom and create life on your own terms, but now you’re working 24/7.
Being ridiculously busy is actually a choice. It’s self-imposed and totally unnecessary. In fact, working fewer hours with more focus and clarity can have a higher impact than unorganized, endless “doing,” which doesn’t get you anywhere.
So why is it that most people, especially the ones who choose entrepreneurship as their lifestyle, have some kind of busyness addiction? Why do they make themselves suffer, going the way of burnout, stress and frustration? Here are two reasons:
• They don’t know any better and believe that the more they do, the more productive they are. People addicted to busyness have no systems in place that help them automate processes, and they have a team that relies on their constant guidance and presence. They believe that being busy is inevitable and actually a good thing. They don’t know how to manage their time efficiently, delegate roles or responsibilities or use systems that create freedom for them to work on important things and have a life.
• There is a true desire for busyness. Most often, this is the real reason people slam themselves with work. It’s a simple distraction technique to numb oneself in order not to face uncomfortable truths. Busyness addiction is exactly like any other addiction or comforting habit: It helps us relax and feel good in the moment, but once we stop, we’re forced to face whatever discomfort comes up.
Instead of just treating the symptoms of busyness (still very important), you want to address the root cause of why you’re uncontrollably busy in order to achieve long-term results. What pain or discomfort are you trying to protect yourself from?
There’s an internal and external approach to this.
1. Know where to focus.
First, understand exactly what needs to be done. Become crystal clear on what daily activities have the biggest impact on your business and can’t be delegated. Make a list of things that fall into the following categories and only practice these tasks:
• Big picture and strategy/decision making
• Marketing and sales
• Content creation
• Delivery of services
• Building relationships
• Speaking and public relations
After making your list, decide which activities have the highest impact. Those should be the only activities that remain on your to-do list. For the others, hire an assistant, outsource to freelancers or erase it from your life for good. After getting clear on what needs to get done, set a strict schedule that you’ll follow no matter what.
One important thing when running your own business is to take time off from doing work or even thinking about work. This simple change will make a huge difference in your productivity and how you optimize your time. Time works like money. When you don’t budget it, you will use it all.
When you know exactly how much time you have available, you’ll make things happen within that time frame. For example, set a rule to never work before 10 a.m., after 7 p.m., or on the weekends, etc. Don’t even check your inbox during that off-time.
To really become aware of how you’re currently spending your time, track all of your activities for 7 to 14 days, then align them with your new list and schedule.
2. Explore where your desire for busyness is coming from.
Once you take care of the external circumstances of busyness, address the root cause of why you’re drawn to always slamming yourself and never having enough time. Often, we feel like we have to prove our self-worth through overachieving and constant doing. Are you making yourself feel important and desirable by being in demand? Ask yourself where your obsession with being busy is coming from. What are you not willing to face that will eventually come up when you’re taking too long of a break? Maybe you feel guilty about not spending any time with your loved ones and don’t want to face the reality that you’re sacrificing your entire life for your business.
There are endless reasons that you might fall into the pattern of busyness. Find out by taking time for yourself and letting them come up. Practice meditation and work through whatever painful feelings you’re facing.
The fact is, you are not your accomplishments. When you attach your confidence to your goals, you set yourself up to always be on the run from “not doing enough.” Busyness may make you feel like you’re winning at life, but at the same time, it takes away your life without you even noticing.
There is nothing worth achieving when you’re not expanding and developing yourself in the process. Understand that the amount of hours you spend on something doesn’t equal your success. What truly determines accomplishment is your level of performance and productivity during those (set) hours.
Balancing your life and business is one of the hardest challenges entrepreneurs have to face. Some never do. But it is the key to sustainable performance, success and a scalable business.