Lately, I catch myself saying the words, “I’m busy” when someone asks how I am. And I’m not lying, especially this year. My wife and I have our hands full with our 16 month old daughter, we both work full time jobs (my wife is a school teacher) and in the fall – I coach high school soccer, which is a 4-5 night a week commitment from June through mid-November. Combine all that with managing over 80 clients on my own all over the country, my self-assessment of “I’m busy” is accurate. However, I’m striking that word from my vocabulary for a few reasons.
Busy isn’t an assessment of filled time vs available time. It’s a matter of organizing tasks and getting the best productivity out of your day. I’m tired of being at a networking event or hanging with friends when the conversation starts with “How are you?”, “Busy”, “Oh ya, I’m so busy…”, “Oh that’s nothing, I’m busier because…”.
Being busy is not an accomplishment or something to brag about. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you’re doing well. It just means that your hours are full of tasks. I worked about as many hours as I did early on in my business with 5-10 clients as I do now with 80-90. It’s just a matter of managing the minutes of the day.
Maybe it’s my aversion to hearing the word from friends that work in offices and use the word busy in terms of ‘busy-work’ but to me – busy also implies a level of unhappiness with the quality and/or amount of work that you’re doing. You never hear anyone say “I’m so busy – I’m playing golf every day this week.”
I love what I do. I love nearly every minute of every single day. Even the occasional all nighter or early morning drive to meet a client two hours away. It’s all good. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be doing it. And because of that I’ll never say that I’m busy doing something that I love.
Usually when someone says that they’re busy, they’re complaining about it. And in 2016 there are a lot of people out of work that would love to have your problem of being busy.
Again, it’s not a competition. It’s nothing to brag about. All business owners are doing a massive amount of plate spinning to keep things running smooth. Just because you have one more plate than the next guy doesn’t make you special. Sorry.
And in that same vein – if I have a lot of things going on to the point where my minutes in a day are full? I’d imagine that I’m at least doing something right. If I went from 80 clients to 30 over the next few months, I’d certainly have less to do, which would be great for my golf game and Playstation skills. But so long as that doesn’t happen, I’ll keep making to-do lists and checking off tasks until that day comes.
If I wake up one morning and I’m not ‘busy’ – I need to get to work and assess what happened. Running a business is hard work that takes a lot of patience, balance & task management, among other things. Even on those slow days, there’s plenty of work to do.
So if you need me, I’ll be busy at my desk – but you won’t hear me complaining.