Curb the Busyness of Business
“It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself,. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.”
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Work is a big part of life. Most people spend more time working than doing anything else. Whether you work for a big company, small business or work from home (or anywhere), you are likely caught up in the busyness of business.
Do you do more busy work than good work? If you fill up 8 or 9 (or more) hours of your life each day with work, but don’t do anything that really matters, who cares?
There is always work to do. Everyone is looking for more hours in the day and days in the week to get more work done. The easy tasks and mind numbing chores are always done first so there is some sense of accomplishment by noon. Then after a quick bite, usually in a car or behind a desk, the afternoon slump sets in and creative work is put on hold again. By the early evening, there is nothing left for good work or good people. People and families suffer and amazing ideas never see the light of day.
This will only change by putting good work first. The first step to curb the busyness of business is to identify the difference between good work and busy work.
- helping people
- sharing good ideas
- connecting with the right people for you
- spending time with people you love
- checking email every 5 minutes and first thing in the morning
- viewing other people’s vacation photos on Facebook
- attending meetings for things you don’t care about
- organizing your desk
- asking for more input because you are afraid that your work isn’t good enough
- sitting on the board because it looks good on your resume
- connecting with all the people
- weekly reports or call reports with the sole purpose of monitoring activity
- reactionary workflow
- spending time with people you don’t like
Your list of busy work vs. good work might be different depending on what you do for work or how you spend your time. You can find busy work and good work in business and in your everyday life.
Why busy work?
Busy work is what you do when you are afraid of your good work.
Busy work is what you do when you are bored with your good work.
Busy work is what you do when you don’t know what your good work is.
If you love your job but hate the nonsense …
If you work for someone else, you may have less control in terms of how you spend your day, but with awareness and action there is still hope for good work.
Nonsense is the corporate culture, the politics of doing business. Gossip and incessant complaining is nonsense. Responding to interoffice email/google chat/Skype IM and text messages all day long is nonsense. And let’s not leave out weekly meetings with no agenda, weekly reports that are often unread and not particularly useful and competition that kills collaboration. That’s all nonsense too.
The most important thing to know is that you have choices. If you love what you do, but not who you do it for or with, you can do it somewhere else. That is a sure-fire way to leave what or who you don’t like behind. There is no guarantee that you won’t experience new things that you don’t like, but often, you have nothing to lose. Your time is precious. It’s time to love it or leave it.
If you aren’t quite ready to leave, there may be things you can do to make your days more enjoyable. After all, if you are making money doing what you love, a little extra effort to shift attitudes and environment will be worth the investment.
You will have to gently educate your employees, employers and co-workers that there is a difference between good work and busy work. Lead by example for the most dramatic results.
If you hate your job and want to do what you were meant to do or don’t know exactly what you want to do …
The majority of my clients fall into this category and there are two things that I tell all of them.
1. It is possible.
2. You are good enough.
If you knew those two things were true, would you get started? Let’s assume that they are true (because they are). You can start your new business before you quit your job. In most cases, you can start earning money from your new business before you quit your job.
If you’ve thought about doing something new, but words and phrases like: job security, bad economy, uncertainty, and fear of failure keep you holding onto the status quo, think about words and phrases like: do what you love, meaningful work, no more miserable Mondays and anything is possible.
You don’t have to know it all to get started, because until you get started, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Busyness gets in the way of good work and in the way of living a full life. When you do work your love, you’ll notice that you naturally do less busy work. You look forward to the good work, even when it is challenging.
Where you work isn’t any better or worse than where I work, unless you are uninspired, unhappy and wishing you could do something different.
If you are too busy to differentiate the busy work from the good work, just remember that busy work comes from your to-do list and good work comes from your heart.
What small change can you make today to curb the busyness of your life and business?
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