When did “busy” become our new badge of honor? A word we hold up as a symbol of pride rather than a problem that needs to be solved.
As a culture, we’ve collectively decided that to feel worthy, our lives should be bursting at the seams. If we’re honest with each other, “busy” is a decision. Ultimately, we do everything we want to, not because we find the time, but because we make it. When we say we’re too “busy,” it’s really shorthand for “it’s not important enough.”
Instead of hiding behind “busy” we must learn how to prioritize what matters most to us. Rather than holding chaos up as the gold standard for success, we should be celebrating those that make time to enjoy their lives.
Let’s discover the 9 ways you can combat using “busy” as an excuse and redefine success on your terms.
The busy myth
Have you ever wondered why your go-to response when a friend asks you about your life is, “Good, busy.”
Over time we’ve subconsciously trained our minds to believe that unless we’re run ragged at all hours of the day, we’re somehow less successful. We’ve become terrified of slowing down.
The trend of who’s most exhausted, run-down and stressed-out equalling who’s winning at life is the glorification of busy today. Your buy-in to the “busy” myth can negatively impact all aspects of your life:
1. Is addictive: when you’re unable to quiet your mind, your health will suffer. You need to be able to have internal quiet for quality sleep and overall calm.
2. Decreases your self-worth: when you tie busyness to your value, it becomes impossible to slow down without losing face.
3. Keeps us in a scarcity mindset: we lose the ability to revel in today or enjoy our successes. What we have is never enough.
4. Increases stress and anxiety: we’re always worried about the next deadline or perceived next task.
5. Affects your relationships: those who want to spend time with you, love you and even your relationship with yourself. You can only tell those around you that you’re too “busy” so many times.
Now, try to think back to a time when “I’m busy“ didn’t roll off your tongue into a conversation as a reflex. What changed?
You still have the same 24 hours in your day and thanks to your hard work a much larger skill set to manage your priorities. You hold the power to make changes and start engaging with purpose instead of tossing aside what matters most.
Let’s explore the 9 ways to combat using “busy” as an excuse:
1. Write your narrative
It’s time to delve into your feelings and definitions of success and busy separately. Pay particular attention if you’ve been using “busy” to describe your life as a way to project success.
Do you thrive on chaos within your shop?
How does working a 90-hour week make you feel as though you’re on top of the world?
On the flip side, if your shop runs like a well-oiled machine because you’ve automated recurring processes and hired experienced staff – what makes “busy” your go-to word? There are no right or wrong answers, but take the time to explore any deeply held beliefs. What other words or feelings can you use to describe what success means to you?
2. Re-Prioritize your time
If your days (and nights) are “make you want to pull your hair out” hectic , it’s time to sit back and make some changes.
Where can you add systems that will smooth out your process?
Are you putting too much focus on parts of your day or life that aren’t deserving?
When you find yourself struggling to keep your head above water you need to re-prioritize. We can’t do it all, and we certainly can’t do it all alone. Instead of passing your breaking point and complaining to anyone who will listen to how busy you are, get to work. Sketch out a plan for small changes that will reform your life and shop making them more manageable.
3. Learn how to say no
Learning how to say no is one of the most challenging skills shop owners will learn. Whether it’s declining a big opportunity because your gut is telling you it’s wrong, or turning down a high-paying job that could explode your life. The art of saying no is a skill that will take a lifetime of practice.
In the end, mastering how to say no effectively will save you time, headaches and maintain your integrity.
4. Make the time for yourself
If you desire anything enough, you make the time – full stop. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way when it comes to self-care. You can’t continue putting yourself last and telling yourself that you’re too “busy.” I’ll be honest; this is a difficult hurdle to overcome. It’s ingrained in us to put everything and everyone else in our lives first.
You need to make yourself a priority if you want to be successful long-term, after all, without you there wouldn’t be a shop to run.
5. Be honest with yourself & others
Being upfront with those around you after potentially years of telling them that you’re too “busy” to get together can be painful. It’s time to look inside and make the decision: are you too busy or is this person just not a priority? Life is short, and your connections are the most important thing you have. You should never be too consumed with your shop to make time for those that truly matter. For those relationships that you feel are no longer a priority, it’s time to have an honest conversation. Instead of saying I’m too busy – try saying how you feel.
6. Delegate and ask for help
Ask yourself these two questions:
Does this have to be done?
Does it have to be done by me?
…and promise me that you’re going to answer truthfully. I know it can seem daunting to hand over tasks to someone else when it looks like no one can do them as perfectly as you can, but let’s be real – that’s not the case. In the end, your sanity is at stake here, and you have my permission to start as small as you’d like. Delegating to your team is also a great lesson in understanding whether you’ve hired the right mix of personalities for your shop. Do they know your “why?” Is everyone on board with your values and style? Now is a great time to evaluate if there are any knowledge or hiring gaps.
Being truly busy means that you may have become unfocused and lost productive direction. As a shop owner, you’re going to have a lot on your plate most of the time; you need to figure out how to manage your time effectively. Instead of starting one task, checking email, opening Facebook, chatting to your staff and then diving back into your original mission. Focus your energy.
Start your day with a list of no more than three priorities. Pick the most important one and get started. Skip the multitasking and stay on task. Utilize apps that allow you to block distractions (StayFocusd) and timers to gauge your progress. Before you know it, you’ll be accomplishing goals and checking items off your to-do list.
8. If you fail to plan, plan to fail.
As a shop owner, it’s likely that you have a detailed list for what needs to get done in your day (see above) or week. When do you look at how your life outside of work fits in? Say you have a date night with your wife this Friday night and it’s your turn to cook. Have you scheduled in time to pick up the groceries – including the commute time? It’s essential that you sit down and plan for the little surprises.
If you want to feel at ease, make all aspects of your life a priority. The more you plan, the more relaxed you’re going to feel when that curveball comes.
9. Create automated systems
Do you find yourself repeating the same processes time and again? If so, let’s talk automation. Once you systemize, you can stop running around putting out fires unnecessarily. Don’t limit these time-savers to just your shop; these practices can work for your personal life as well.
Here are a few examples that will create space in your day:
- Switch to online appointment booking and stop having to worry about manually confirming appointments, not to mention wasting time on no-shows.
- Save yourself time in the morning by making overnight oats on Sunday for the week ahead
- Be like Steve Jobs or Johnny Cash and create a job uniform, so you have one less thing to think about in the morning
- Create email templates for common inquiries: consultations, tattoo artist books full, testimonial requests for your site
At the end of this week have a look back and ask yourself:
Mistaking busyness as self-worthiness?
Choosing busy over productive?
Using busy as an excuse?
Seeing busy as a means of adding value?
If you answered yes to any of these questions the time has come to stop glorifying our culture’s cockeyed definition of busy.
We need to collectively make the conscious decision to reengage and reconnect with ourselves and those around us. Let’s promise to no longer wear “busy” as a badge of honor, but instead define success on our terms.