Busy is a decision

I had an epiphany recently while one a long drive to a shoot. I spend a lot of time in the car, travelling from one place to the next, and I wanted to make sure that this blank space in my schedule was being put to work – for me. So like many people, I’ve turned to podcasts, and picking and choosing the right ones has been a fantastic way to work on my mindset, stay positive, and keep my passion – for work and for life – alive.

I regularly have little ‘eureka’ moments while I’m tuned in to my favourites, but this one in particular struck such a chord that I had to share it with you all. This golden nugget of truth comes from the brilliant Debbie Millman, whose Design Matters podcast is on regular rotation in my car. This is what she had to say – and it made me pull over to think about it:

“Of the many, many excuses people use to rationalise why they can’t do something, the excuse ‘I’m too busy’ is not only the most inauthentic, it is also the laziest. I don’t believe in ‘too busy’. I think that busy is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period.”

At first it sounds pretty harsh, right? I mean, we’re all balancing running businesses, chasing leads, looking after families, attempting to fit in a social life, the gym…the list really does go on and on, and keeping all the plates in the air can be pretty overwhelming. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised I totally agree with what Debbie says.

Honesty time – of the last handful of times you told someone you were too busy to do something, what were you trying to get out of? Was it something you really, truly wanted to do? Or more likely, was it something you were invested enough to make the time for? If someone had offered you a holiday in the Maldives or a shoot with a famous rider in an incredible location, would you still have been busy? I’m not so sure.

Okay, so admin tasks aren’t particularly inspiring. There’s nothing sexy about cultivating leads, or refining your target market, or putting together marketing templates. I get that! But are you really too busy to do it, or do you just not really want to do it?

The eureka moment: there’s a huge difference between genuinely being too busy, and just not making the time. A tough pill to swallow? Sure – but catching yourself in the act can revolutionise your time-management, and as such, your stress levels.

Now, I don’t want to accuse anyone of laziness, because in my experience, anyone who’s passionate enough to want to start their own business is usually an inordinately hard worker, too. But sometimes these excuses stem from something a bit deeper – fear. A subconscious fear that maybe you won’t be able to get the job in question done.

It’s time to start swapping the word ‘busy’ for whatever it is we actually mean. Are you busy, or do you not want to do it because it’s not something that lights your fire? If so, maybe it’s time to establish a reward system for yourself when you’ve tackled a particularly dull task. Or, are you worried that people might judge you if you’re seen to have even a moment of down-time? (This is a really common problem for the self-employed, and it’s one we all need to commit to weaning ourselves of – we all deserve time off!)

Sometimes, though, you truly are overwhelmed by all the jobs in your diary. If this is the case, ask yourself why you’re taking on so much – are you afraid to say ‘no’, in case the work dries up? Or do you need to work every hour of the day to make ends meet? If the first one strikes a chord, it’s well worth boosting your sense of self-worth – and your business trajectory – by making sure you’re taking on jobs that help you with your long-term goals. If the latter? Time to put those prices up, baby.

I don’t say any of this because I’ve always had it all sussed out. When I was first starting out, I accepted every single job that came my way – even the unpaid ones. But, facing burn-out and questioning what on earth I was doing with my life, I quickly learnt that unless there was something in it for me, there was no point killing myself over it.

By learning to be selective, and no longer filling my diary with meaningless or unprofitable jobs, I fed my passion without exhausting it – and then I suddenly found myself not only with the time to work on my goals, but the drive to do so, even if it meant tackling the boring jobs. Plus, I could fit in days off – and I didn’t feel guilty about them, because I could see the path I was on.

Double eureka!

If you still feel like you are struggling with workflow or find it difficult to tackle those mundane jobs, check out our online business series for more awesome guidance from Emily and Hannah from the comfort of your own home!