This post has been a long time coming. The past few months I’ve had my head down, executing and learning a lot. To be honest, it’s the busiest I’ve ever been in my life.
This is a stark contrast to where I was 13 months ago. When BULX (my previous employer) was sold to a company in New York, I had to scramble to find enough steady work to hold me over.
Today, I’m turning projects down.
When friends and acquaintances ask me how I’ve been lately, “Busy, but good,” has been my go-to response.
And while busy is better than slow (I am extremely grateful for the work I am doing), I cant help but wonder how much more effective I could be if weren’t completely maxed out.
Quality Over Quantity
I believe in the concept that quantity breeds quality. Do anything enough and you are bound to turn out a gem or two eventually.
But at what point does “doing things as fast as possible just to get them done” hurt the quality of each individual project or task?
Less Does Not Equal Lazy
The entrepreneurial mindset is that if you aren’t working 18 hours a day (which I’m close to at times), you aren’t working hard enough.
I call B.S.
I’m not saying I don’t believe in pushing yourself or working hard or putting in the hours it takes to be successful. Quite the contrary.
This is more about being as effective as possible, doing the most important work possible. It’s about purposely executing on a handful of initiatives that will have the biggest impact on your organization instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do everything.
Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week, described this as Work for Work’s Sake (W4W). He argues that the goal is not to fill every hour of every day with W4W. The goal is to do the best work you can in the least amount of time possible so that you have the opportunity to plan, review, and analyze your efforts and think about what actually makes sense to accomplish next instead of reacting to whatever lands on your plate on a given day.
Important > Urgent
Do you do things that are important or urgent?
As a business owner, it’s easy to focus on whatever lands in your lap on a given day. I can relate. I’m the first to open and delete/respond to every email that makes it to the top of my Inbox.
As tidy as this may seem, it’s an incredible waste of time. (Sadly, our work culture now demands this instant response – but that’s a different topic for a different post.)
Do you have a plan (maybe in your head, maybe written down somewhere) of where you want to take your career or business? How often do you execute on that plan? Every day? Or are you are forced to respond quickly to the emergencies that pop up throughout the day?
Are you strategic – or reactive? Are you insightful – or rushed? Are you making a dent in the universe, or just scratching the surface of what you’re capable of?
Remember, “we are what we do frequently.” (Aristotle) Becoming aware of our own habits is the first step in changing our behaviors for the better.
100% Capacity = Zero Room for Opportunity & Growth
The final – and perhaps most serious – issue with being “busy” (as a one-man shop) is that it leaves little opportunity to explore other options, take on new projects, or work on initiatives that are more interesting, pay better, or will make a larger impact.
I love working for myself because it allows me flexibility with my schedule, with my pay, and most importantly with the diversification of clients I work with. Like so many other entrepreneurs, a lack of drive is not something I need to worry about.
Yet this has always been my tragic flaw. I believe that I can single-handedly take on the world. And now that my plate is full, I’m forced to say “No,” in some cases to projects and teams that I would LOVE to work with.
It’s Not About Money, It’s About Impact
This is not a blog post about making as much money as possible.
It’s about scaling our time and resources. It’s about finding balance and exploring the entrepreneurship work-life balance. It’s about doing work we’re proud of, that we are happy with, that we love doing every single day.
When we are happy and excited about our work, the motivation to accomplish more comes naturally. Our bodies move and our brains function differently – for the better.
Conversely, when the opportunity to engage is replaced with a non-stop flow rush of work, burnout is imminent. When we perform the same mindless tasks repeatedly at a feverish pace, boredom AND burnout take place.
I’m not bored or burnt out (yet) – but I certainly don’t have the answers.
If you own your own company, how do you choose what to work on next – both internally and externally? And how are you achieving balance in your work life?