Why Being Busy Isn’t Your Best Success Strategy

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Have you ever found yourself so busy that you are dropping balls, feeling overwhelmed and unable to keep up with everything?

Listen, I get it, being busy is a lot better than twiddling your thumbs, hoping to drum up some action. As an entrepreneur, however, there’s a success myth that you may have fallen for — that being busy is the key to success. We here it in statements like, “get your hustle on” or “you can sleep when you are dead.” I don’t know about you but I need my sleep and I don’t function at my best when I am busy all the time.

Actually, most busy people THINK they are accomplishing a lot when in fact they just have way too much on their plate. Often there is a lot of energy going out but not very much actual results coming in. And that’s NOT a success strategy, its a “be busy” strategy.

Busy is a mindset that creates a paradigm where you feel like you have to keep yourself in motion all of the time in order to feel good about your progress.

Being busy is just a habit that is adopted at some point. It could have been a message from your parents or a coping mechanism to avoid feelings you don’t desire. Either way, being busy isn’t a coveted state. Being productive and powerful is. So let’s look at some of the signs you might be busy at the expense of achieving higher levels of success:

  • You have multiple projects going but none of them are actually making enough money.
  • Can’t slow down to get organized so you spend a lot of time looking for things.
  • Time evaporates so you are often late to meetings (or miss deadlines completely.)
  • Because you are moving so fast you never actually complete any of your projects so you have a lot of half-finished ideas (and that drains your energy.)
  • You always seem to move on to a new opportunity before any of your offerings ever make as much money as you’d like.
  • There is never enough time for the “big dream” such as writing the book or pursuing the business you’d really love to have (let alone taking a vacation.)
  • Exhausted and worn-out, you often sink into the couch with your remote control to recharge but can’t imagine taking a real vacation where you get away for a week or two.
  • Even though you are slammed all day long and into the night you don’t seem to ever complete your to-do list!

Why does busy become a habit?

In my research through coaching thousands of entrepreneurs through the MoneyDNA Mastery process I’ve discovered that busy-ness is born from a limiting belief.

On some level you believe you have to work non-stop to get ahead. Perhaps during your previous career you had more projects than you could ever accomplish and it became a habit to always be busy. Or someone rewarded you for being busy (because they also bought into the myth that busy is the right approach.) Or, like many small business owners, you want a certain amount of income but you are not charging enough or your programs are not profitable yet, so you take on more work to make up for it.

Busy does two things to the entrepreneur – it puts you on the fast track for low profits and burn out.

Here are a four ways to retrain yourself out of “busy” and into “thriving.”

  1. Challenge your beliefs around busy-ness and success. Often busy-ness comes from a deep fear of not having enough or a “success program” you adopted from your over-achieving parents. If you could achieve faster success if you weren’t busy, would you do it?
  2. Rethink launching that “next big idea” too soon. There is often bigger profits at stake when you take the time to thoroughly market your offering. Jumping to the next big idea too soon can not only destroy your potential sales but it also is confusing to your audience.
  3. Evaluate your cost of each offering.  You might discover that you are wasting a lot of time, money and energy on certain activities that are not fruitful.
  4. Get a mindset upgrade. The biggest breakthroughs I’ve witnessed have been a direct result of admitting what you are doing is not working, you can’t sustain it and there is a better way.

What are your thoughts? Do you find yourself constantly busy but not productive? Have you kicked the busy-ness trap already?






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  • Mark Knowles

    August 21, 2012

    Well said! About once a year, I track my time 24/7 for a couple weeks. At the end, I can see at 10,000 feet where my priorities are.

    Always an insightful time.

    Thanks for you post, a great reminder for al of us!

    Mark Knowles

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      August 21, 2012

      Thanks Mark for the added tip…tracking time like that certainly provides new clarity.

  • cynthia kocialski

    August 22, 2012

    Great reminder about working smart, not long. What helps me fight the busy-ness mode is to ask myself if each task is moving me any closer to my goals. If the answer is ‘no’, I question why I am doing it at all and stop doing it. The other thing I do is to ask whether the task really requires my attention, could someone else be doing it, would my time be better used elsewhere? Lastly, I learned to say ‘no’ to requests on my time and not feel guilty about it.

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      August 24, 2012

      Great question to ask yourself Cynthia. I do the same thing with opportunities! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Darlene Cary

    August 24, 2012

    Are the limiting beliefs an age thing? I’ve noticed younger workers understand the concepts of idle and super-productive time (aka Tim Ferriss: 4HWW).

    Maybe the younger folks have not had as many years of busy= productive.

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      August 24, 2012

      Hmmm, interesting thought Darlene. I’m not sure its an “age thing” as much as maybe its a cultural impact. Perhaps the younger generation has had the “lifestyle & freedom” possibility infused before the “busy” pattern set in. Or they watched their parents suffer or check out on them because they were always busy and said, “I’m not doing that!” Glad you brought it up!

  • Best Franchise to Buy

    August 25, 2012

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that produce the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!

  • Patricia Weber

    September 3, 2012

    Very interesting – the signs that you are too busy. The hope in your post is that we CAN change the limiting belief. You mentioned a mind reboot. I haven’t done that yet! I do on occasion however have a brain reboot to get ALL those things that are floating around in my mind out of it and on paper. That seems to steer me back on course. Thanks.