Podcast Episode 26: The Myth of Busyness

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Busy is not the same as being productive. Busy is a buffer. In the episode, we’ll discuss the root cause of busyness and the solution to fix it. 

Genius doesn’t come from busyness. That’s why clients always tell me that they have their best thoughts in the car, shower or after meditation. 

Read the Transcript
Hey friends. Welcome back to this week’s episode. This week I want to talk about the difference between being busy and being productive. 

It may seem obvious to some of you, but it wasn’t always obvious to me. And I spent many years in the busyness trap. 

So many of us are masters at being busy. But we tell others too. 

I am so busy. 

I’d love to meet up with you but finding a date is going to be hard. I am so busy. 

A very smart woman taught me that you have time for what you prioritize. Are you prioritizing your endless to-do list or are you prioritizing the experiences and results you want to create in your career?

There is a difference between busy and being productive. 

Many of us are drawn towards busyness because we have equated our value with doing. 

The more we do, the more valuable we are. I see busyness stem from two main thoughts 

We think being busy increases our worthiness, so we can feel better about ourselves
Or we think that busyness makes us feel and look Important, needed. So we can try to control what others think of us. 

Both busyness thoughts deliver stress and ineffective results. 

The first kind of busy is when we think our value and self worth are tied to busyness. 
 
I used to say yes to everything. Seriously, I think people knew I was almost incapable of saying no, which was all fear-based…fear I wouldnt get ahead, be successful, get noticed, be passed over, fear that if I said no, I wouldn’t be in the know, I would miss out on the opportunity to make connections, build relationships and alliances, and I just wouldn’t know the information I would need to do my job.  
 
I worked in agencies, media, and Heath Tech start-ups. My remit was often strategy, innovation, emerging technologies, and connecting with others to cull and shape thought leadership was a huge part of the job. If I said no, and then didn’t know, how would that impact my output?
 
 
And because my brain loves to go global quickly, I would then be thinking if I didn’t volunteer, how would this impact my knowledge, a future promotion or raise, or overall professional reputation? 
 
I said yes often because I believed that it gave me more exposure and experience. The Jury is still out on that one, meaning would I have gotten to the same level of success if I didn’t do more, didn’t volunteer? I’m guessing based on my competency, resourcefulness, and results, yesI would have gotten there without all the busyness extras.  But my mind told me that I had to keep showing up ALL the time and take every opportunity to do more to get ahead. 
 
When my friends and colleagues also told me how busy they were I decided that this was the norm. I just accepted that this is what it meant to work. So many of us believe busyness and stress are mandatory in order to have a successful career. 
 
You believe your stress is caused by the amount of things you have to do, versus a thought that you are having. Stress about your busyness is a state of mind. It doesn’t come from your calendar. 
 
For years, I prided myself on the belief that I accomplished more by 9a then most people can accomplish in a day. 
 
Some days I would start with a conference call as early as 6am. Then exercise, shower and be ready for my second call at 8a.
 
My days would be long. Add on a west coast client and teammates and my day could stretch to 10pm.
 
An 18-hour day was common.
 
And to be clear, that was what I created. I was over packing my days. That was not what was demanded of me. And while I was well compensated, it wasn’t like cash and prizes. I wasn’t investment banker or private equity compensated. So what was I doing?
 
And I was drowning in the busy Olympics like I was winning some imaginary competition. 
 
I used to equate busyness with importance and being needed. I was trading my labor for love or appreciation. 
 
Looking for external validation to feel good about yourself will never work. Plus it’s exhausting. 
 
There’s never enough approval. You’ll keep chasing the situation in order to feel good. And the next one. And when the approval wanes, you will be heat seeking missile searching for your next hit, your next compliment.  
 
We were deriving our value and worthiness from being busy. Like waiting for a worthiness trophy.
 
Woof. 
 
For others being busy is synonymous with being of service, being generous with your time, being resourceful and at times it’s pure people-pleasing. We think we have to keep doing it because we believe it makes us a good person, or because we want the other party to like us.  

Looking back, what is so interesting now is that if I knew how to leverage and amplify my strengths, if I had known how to help create a strengths-based culture, more people, including myself would shift from busy to productive. 
 
I would have known how to work within time management, my strengths, skills, and my own energy levels and structure my day so that I solely focused on productivity. I realized that if you are an employee there are often tasks that burn us or deplete our energy. Working those tasks for times that our brain is at its best enables us to move into productivity. 
 
Busy often in the mind. It’s a thought. Seriously, It’s your mindset. You may even want to look busy to others. Busy means the day owes you.There’s a ton of mental clutter and It means that there’s little time for space to think. 
 
Genius doesn’t come from busyness. That’s why clients always tell me that they have their best thoughts in the car, shower or after meditation. 
 
Your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Your body can only do one thing at a time, even if you are multitasking. 
 
According to Psychology Today, Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought and hoped it might. 
 
All we are doing is switching tasks quickly. Like musical chairs. 
 
This switching and busyness is really hard on your productivity because instead of saving time it costs you time, even if it’s nanoseconds. Multitasking depletes our energy, we’re distracted, we’re less creative and we make mistakes. 
 
Busyness means frantic work. Overwhelm. Working harder. A desire to be good at everything. Perfectionism and multitasking takes over. 
If you want to go deeper on perfectionism check out episode 13 of this podcast. 
 
Productive means results. Impact. Its growth. It’s getting it done. It’s focused. We work smarter, we amplify our strengths and get clear in what skills give us energy and what burns us out. 
 
There are moments when life is busy. Totally understand that. But this is about breaking the cycle of you being busy because you think you will be more valued or you’ll feel needed or important. 
 
When we focus on results we will end up working differently. and that may mean we have to work differently. 
 
We have to get really good at asking better questions. We need to provide solutions, not just solve problems. Eat the frog first–do the tough task when you are freshest. Schedule in space to think and rest just like you would do any other appointment. 
 
Next you want to choose how you want to feel and then think about what thoughts will create that feeling inside of you? 
 
Step one is learning that your thoughts are creating your feelings. 
 
This is the first step in freedom.
 
When you realize that your thoughts are creating your feelings you get to choose a different feeling.  
 
So step two is practicing the thoughts that generate the feeling you want. 
 
So if you want to feel worthy and valued, ask yourself what thoughts do you need to think in order to create those feelings? 
 
Then you have to practice those thoughts every day. 
Give this some thought. Do the thought work. Busy is a buffer. You stop feeling and thinking. Are you attached to being busy? What are you afraid of feeling?
What does busyness do for you? 
 
Where are you waiting for others to validate you and give you self worth?

Ok my friends,  Thanks for joining me this week. Until next time.