• Posted 19/11/2018 12:35am


One of the first things I frequently hear from clients, when we check-in at the beginning of a session, is they’re busy. I ask whether it’s “good busy” or “bad busy”? “What’s the difference?” they ask.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell, from the tone of their voice and what comes next. Often we can be busy being busy but not actually being productive.

Getting to the end of the day and wondering what exactly you were busy doing.

Good busy is:

  • Focused on doing good work
  • Working on high priority tasks
  • Not wasting time on less important tasks

You feel the buzz of being busy, you’re motivated and in the flow and you have plenty of clients and customers to work with. Nothing phases you and everything gets managed, prioritised and slotted in. You get to the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment when you see how much you’ve done.

Bad busy is:

  • Feeling overloaded
  • Have too much to do
  • Too many people making demands on your time
  • Rushing around from one thing to the next
  • Not being productive

You feel disorganised, overwhelmed and you’re chasing your tail. You feel pressured into working late and giving up your weekends to get everything done. You’re constantly trying to catch up and feeling stressed.

People always advise us to “work smart,” but how do we do that, specifically? Indeed, all work is not created equal, and just because you are labouring mightily doesn’t mean that your business is prospering. As a matter of fact, hard work can actually impede success. It all depends on how you’re working. Here are three “bad busy” problems and suggestions for turning them into “good busy” opportunities.

1) The Busy Work Syndrome:
Problem: Some people, be they owners or employees, keep plenty busy but never accomplish anything. Being buried in busy work has its advantages. When you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off, you don’t have to think. It can be far more relaxing to be immersed in tasks, rather than stepping back and engaging in reflective thought. And then there’s the political angle: If you’re always busy, nobody will throw more work at you, or God forbid, more responsibility.

Solution: Use a critical eye to look at every task being done in your business. They accumulate like junk in the garage. If you don’t need it, throw it out. Be efficient; meaning, insist that every task demonstrably contributes to your strategic plan. When a business focuses on efficiency, it truly begins to work smart … and in some ways, to work less.

2) Fear of Delegating:
Problem: “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” This is the epitaph of many a failed business. Some business owners feel that any job they dish off to a team member will get botched. Well, guess what – they’re probably right! Especially in the early stages, owners have far more expertise than anyone in their team. But without a willingness to delegate, an owner never coaches up the team. And the most talented team members – the ones who are ready, willing, and able to accept responsibility – get frustrated and leave. The company can’t grow because the team can’t grow.

Solution: Embrace a culture of learning. Mistakes are learning opportunities; welcome them! We all know in our hearts that lessons are best learned when we learn them the hard way. Allowing your team to fail in the short run guarantees their success and yours in the long run. Manage the risk of delegating by being the backstop – it’s a much better strategy than trying to play every position yourself.

3) Chasing Shiny New Objects:
Diving into the latest and greatest thing that promises to revolutionise your business looks like a lot of fun … until you realise that there’s no water in the pool.  Oh, the time we waste riding the social media bandwagon, the CRM bandwagon, the sales funnels, etc. Few things are more risky for a small business than diving into something new, primarily because it takes so much work – no training manuals to read, best practices to follow, or established metrics to use as a scorecard. All of those things have to be created by you. Chasing shiny new objects usually plays out in one of two ways. Either you fully commit and fail dramatically, or you dabble and fail in dribs and drabs.

Solution: Pick your spots very carefully, because being a late adopter is usually the winning strategy. New things aren’t necessarily bad, but waiting to implement enables you to take advantage of what others have learned and to forego a mountain of wasted motion. It all boils down to that time-tested virtue, patience.

Socrates said, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” A work ethic gone wild can squeeze the joy out of life. Most successful businesses that I’ve been around have team members who enjoy coming to work. I don’t know if that is why they became successful or an outgrowth of success, but it’s an interesting question. What do you think?

Here are a few other questions:

  • What work being done in your organisation appears to have little or no value?
  • What’s your plan for replacing this bad work with good work?
  • What’s your plan for turning good work into good fun?

We have spent years working with organisations and teams, assisting in creating strategic plans and aligning everything in the business alongside it. And what does that provide you with? TIME.

If you find yourself more bad busy than good busy, find out how you can switch to being more productive and getting more things done – get in touch and arrange a time for a free chat.

09 Oct


All businesses have weaknesses as well as strengths. If you want to sustain and grow your business, it’s vital to address these issues before they threaten your chances of long-term success.

14 Nov


I hear those words a lot, so you are not alone. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they have had one or more businesses fail before their current one succeeded.

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