“Busy” isn’t success. Busy is a lack of priority.
For a long time I thought the following about “busy” people:
-they were important
-they were cool
-that had it so rough – poor them! They need sympathy!
Then, after bailing on a career in soccer, dodging medical school and quitting half-way through getting a PhD in Philosophy – I went to work for myself. That’s when being “busy” doing all that busy work ACTUALLY got real for me. It went from “ho hum…” to “YIKES I’m so busy because I need to figure out my life, this new career I want to start – becoming a pro photographer, and I’ve got to pay my rent and put food on the table for my family.” Busy quickly went from a cute thing that felt good to “holy shit, how am I going to get all this done – there’s literally not enough hours in the day.”
That “busy” was real – but mostly because I didn’t have my shit together. That kind of busy is ok, but only temporarily.
And so I rode that line for a while… When I started talking about being busy, people asked, “well what are you doing?” and I got to talk about all the cool stuff I was doing. I got to make that stuff sound important. And I got to cook up that feeling that all the work I was doing was super duper important. And after all, so was I! Busy shifted from a temporary state i was struggling with to a proud label (but still didn’t know it was dumb).
I didn’t have systems for anything. Systems weren’t “creative” – those were things that 9-5 people had. Those were for paper pushers and DAMMIT I’M SELF EMPLOYED NOW SO I DON’T NEED ANY SYSTEMS!
And then I realized that most of what I was doing was just noise…all bark no bite. Lots of action, but few results.
THAT’s when I took a close look at how I was ACTUALLY spending my time. What was I doing that was moving the needle I needed to move? Learning, making great work, getting clients, promoting my work, closing sales. For all those things…the things that MATTERED – it turned out that if I created systems around those things that helped me spend my time on those things more wisely – that my professional OUTCOMES (ie the shit I wanted to get done!) started dramatically accelerating, and – miraculously – I also had so much more personal success as well. In relationships, health, with family, etc. The simple act of putting some basic systems in place made me less “busy” (as in just flailing) and made me way more effective at getting what I wanted out of life. In short – the classic “busy” of important people was a fraud.
So I stopped. Not stopped DOING stuff. Just stopped doing stupid stuff that fronted a false sense of being successful and focused on being effective. It made all the difference. Sure I was living a very full life – from dawn to dusk – but that wasn’t “busy” in the lame sense of the word. I was effective and on point. Not “busy”. And you know what I’ve found out in all my travels and hoity toity elbow rubbing? I’ve found that the most very bad-ass people I know…people who are the best in the world at their craft – whatever it may be – are mostly algined around this principle. Sure there’ some hefty schedules and plenty of jet setting. But no one is running around saying how busy they are.
So can we PLEASE stop celebrating being “so busy”?! Again. Busy isn’t’ a sign of success, it’s a lack of priority.
THAT’s how I came up with structuring my day like I do now.
Enter Tony Schwarz who helped usher in the strategy of “strategic renewal” — the idea that you have moments of intense focus mixed with short scheduled breaks that can rejuvenate you physically and mentally throughout the day – thereby boosting your productivity. I’ve slowly adapted to Tony’s idea.
One of my popular blog posts on the topic was actually the inspiration behind this week’s episode of cjRAW. In the middle of this vlog – ironically where my schedule is getting blown up – I get on the topic of effective schedules and I share a simple, yet crucial, process I’ve lived by for the past several years … breaking down the 100’s of to-dos on the list into like items and then placing those like items into 90 minute work chunks. And whether those chunks are solid blocks dedicated to solving big problems … working on big goals, OR small tactical shit like phone calls and meetings, I can orient my day toward successful chunking of the stuff I want to get done – and voila, I’m 10x more productive than I’ve ever been.
Think I’m crazy or right? Let me know.
In the meantime, here’s a few other things I would add to the above rant:
- REMINDER! – I freakishly protect the first 90 minute block of my day for my morning routine. It’s the one thing I know can make a HUGE difference in the success of my day, week, and life. Sometimes this requires some modifications, but I generally go way beyond reason to keep this block intact.
- I prioritize the next 90 minute block as the most important stuff I need to get done that day — by knocking out the important stuff first, it’s easier to sleep knowing you’ve made great progress.
- I use lunch as either an “eating meeting” or “walking meeting” (sometimes both together) – but generally time to get some headspace before the next 90 minute chunk.
But the video really says it all. So watch that again. And then let me know what you think. Hope this helps you fine tune your day. If you’ve developed some strategies to pump up your productivity, do share in the comments below or somewhere on the web where I can find it.
Wake up call [0:07] Flight’s delayed [0:55] Meet up with Alex [2:06] CreativeLive San Francisco [2:29] DETAILS ON HOW I (LITERALLY) STRUCTURE MY DAY [2:44]
Links from the Episode
If you’re looking for more resources, here are two classes worth checking out:
The Art of Less Doing and Time Management 101
My Morning Routine
Do Less = Do More. The Art of Being Creative + Productive
“You Can Have It” by Fresh Espresso: https://www.facebook.com/FreshEspresso
“Something Elated” by Broke for Free: http://brokeforfree.com/
“Big Because” by Minden: https://soundcloud.com/minden-band
“Viper” by Ray Rude: https://soundcloud.com/rayrudemusic