“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
Thomas Edison (Co-founder, General Electric)
“When you work for others, you are at their mercy. They own your work; they own you. Your creative spirit is squashed.”
Robert Greene (Author, The 48 Laws of Power)
“Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is–busy doing what?”
Jim Rohn (Speaker, The Art of Exceptional Living)
This is what my new boss told me.
“But you just hired me” I replied.
I couldn’t believe it.
The guy who recruited me was jumping ship.
I was surprised, but not really.
Within a month after starting my new job, someone else who was new in our department quit.
A few weeks later, another new person quit, then another, and another.
Within 3 months of being hired, 5 people quit.
It was like I was on the Titanic.
I decided to stay at the company even though everyone I knew had left.
For months, none of the open positions were filled.
I came in every day having no idea what to do.
There was no training, no on-boarding process, and now no one to report to in my department.
So I kept busy.
I answered emails and went to meetings.
The more emails I wrote, the more I received.
The more meetings I went to, the more meetings were scheduled.
After a few weeks, I was really busy.
Being busy felt good.
It felt like I was getting something done.
Then the company hired a new team and they started being really busy too.
We were all busy.
The only problem was that no one who was hired had any experience in the field and we weren’t really getting anything done.
We just kept running around like chickens with their heads cut off.
We looked like we were working hard but that’s about it.
Somehow this felt good and bad at the same time.
We all knew nothing important was really getting done, which felt bad, but we stayed really busy, which distracted us from the meaninglessness of what we were doing and felt good.
Eventually I realized that being busy wasn’t the same thing as being effective.
It didn’t matter if I answered hundreds of emails and went to dozens of meetings a day, without a clear measurable goal, it was meaningless.
Are You Busy And Average, Or Effective And Elite?
We’ve all heard that mastering any skill, whether it’s business, surgery, playing the violin, or fencing, requires 10,000 hours of practice.
What you may not have heard is that this practice is best done in short bursts, not in long, drawn out days.
Studies reported in Psychological Review have shown over and over again that the key difference between elite versus average performers is the number of hours these performers spend on deliberate practice–the uncomfortable, methodical work of stretching your ability to execute a skill.
Elite performers deliberately practice three times longer than average performers.
That’s not the surprising part.
The surprising part is that the average performers worked more hours overall.
When researchers compared the average time both sets of performers spent working versus the waking hours of the day, they found that average performers spread their work throughout the day.
The elite performers, however, consolidated their work into short bursts.
These performers’working time versus waking time charts showed two sharp peaks—one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Elite performers spent more time in deliberate practice but only worked an average of 3.5 hours a day.
As a result, the elite performers leverage their brain power more productively.
The rest of their time was spent on leisure, relaxation, and recovery.
Why Busy People Fail And Effective People Succeed
There’s a right way and a wrong way to live.
Feeling constantly rushed and weighed down by other people’s demands and expectations is the wrong way to live.
No one ever sat on their deathbed wishing they would have been busier.
No one ever came to the end of their days begging for more time to do things that didn’t matter.
The only way to live a happy and successful life is to stop being busy.
Busy people have mental breakdowns, become emotionally burnt-out, and die fast.
The reason this happens is because busyness is a gateway to mediocrity.
It’s also a gateway to giving up on your own dreams, following others, and being manipulated by others.
The only way to avoid this fate is to understand what busyness leads to.
Once you understand the pitfalls busy people face, you can adjust your life so you stop being busy all the time.
Here are three reasons why being too busy in life will ultimately lead to your failure in life…
1. Busy people become average.
People who brag about being busy will always be average.
They will never accomplish anything great or leave a legacy behind them.
These people brag about busyness because nothing else in their lives is worth talking about.
Being busy does not lead to achievement or fulfillment.
Just the opposite.
Busyness prevents achievement and fulfillment.
If you’re so busy that you don’t have time to breath, you’re wasting your life.
You’ll never get anywhere in life without taking time for yourself, without taking time to sit down, look ahead, and see where you’re going.
Busy people don’t make things happen.
Things just happen to them.
Life just happens to them.
Effectiveness should be your goal, not busyness.
The problem is being busy feels good.
The human brain loves feeling busy.
You get a dopamine rush every time you cross off an item from your to-do list.
It doesn’t matter if the item you’re crossing off is important or not, you still get a rush.
On top of this, telling others that you’re busy is an ego boost.
Being busy makes you feel important.
Busyness is a drug and the only way to get off of it is to start obsessing with results.
What’s the result of what you’re doing?
What’s the outcome?
Is there any value in spending the next 8 hours on some project your boss wants you to do or 4 hours at some event that your family or friends want you to go to?
Will either of these things bring you closer to your goals?
If the answer is no, then say “no.”
You only have a set amount of mental energy to spend each day so you better start protecting it.
Everyone has work to do.
The key is dividing up this work into discrete units of time.
Divvy up your day into short bursts of extremely focused, result-oriented activities and batch these activities together as much as possible.
Stop feeling obligated to attend every event.
Stop feeling guilty for saying “no” to other people.
Stop craving the dopamine rush of being busy.
Instead, start living outcome-minded.
Start chasing results and a living a life that will take you closer to your real goals.
2. Busy people are followers, not leaders.
You can either set your own agenda for your life or you can follow someone else’s agenda for your life.
The choice is up to you.
The biggest problem with being busy all the time is that it keeps you reliant on other people.
Busyness keeps you dependent on the herd.
This herd mentality is your brain’s default mindset and it’s what you have to actively work against every day if you want to be successful.
The only way to stop blindly following others is to stop blindly doing what others want you to do.
This means setting firm boundaries with people and continuing to express your creativity and individuality no matter how much resistance you get.
The problem is that creativity and individuality are commonly rejected by others.
Studies reported in Psychological Science show that most people have a negative bias towards creativity.
Most people act like they want you to express yourself openly but, in reality, they don’t.
Instead, they just want you to stay busy following their agendas.
Look—the majority of the population is risk adverse.
They’ve created a habit of conforming and will do whatever it takes to avoid shaking things up even if it means rejecting a good idea.
Busyness is the most common strategy others employ to keep you from speaking out.
Busyness is how they control you.
Busyness is how they get you to conform.
3. Busy people are easily manipulated.
Being busy makes you very easy to manipulate.
Busy people are distracted and distracted people get taken advantage of.
When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like you only have one choice.
When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like you need them to be successful.
When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like it’s your duty to take care of them.
Distraction turns people into pushovers.
When grown men and grown women try to make you feel guilty for not spending time with them or not doing what they want, it’s simply a power play.
These people know that you have a thousand other things going on and would rather give in to them instead of feeling guilty.
They use your busyness against you by making silent threats to play the victim or suck you into drama.
As a result, you say “yes” to everything.
You have to say “yes.”
If you don’t, you’ll have to deal with emotional blackmail.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
On and on it goes.
You’re like a “yes” factory.
You roll right over and agree to everything manipulators want you to do.
As the obligations pile up, you become busier and busier.
As you become busier, you become more of a pushover.
It’s a vicious cycle.
The only way to escape the cycle is to start saying “no”.
Start being self-aware enough to reject busy, meaningless activities and to instead, focus on the one or two things that really matter to you.
Staying busy is an easy trap to fall into no matter who you are. If you want to be average, run around all day in a false sense of busyness. Stay unfocused and only half-concentrated on whatever you’re doing at the time. Worry constantly. Plan for the worst. Try to fit in, let others boss you around, and say “yes” to everything. But, if you want to be different, if you want to stand out and achieve worthwhile goals, you need to get focused. Start dividing your day into short bursts. Start being outcome-minded. Do this and you’ll live and more confident and focused life.
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