Business Advice

Busyness or business?


Are you busy?

Many of us say that we are.

But what do we mean, really?  And is it hurting our business?

The New York Times suggests today that we’re not so much busy as tired.  Our lives are hectic, stress-filled.  And, most of the time, we only have ourselves to blame.

Do more.

Get more.

Find more.

Be more.

We’re busy often because we’re busy.

In business, busyness can be crippling.

I believe that more people are busy in a recession than in the good times.

Busy trying to get work in.  And when there’s no work coming in, or its slithering in at a trickle, busy with the stuff that doesn’t really matter.

‘We’re at work’, the thinking goes. ‘We’re being paid to be here.  We must be busy.  Or, we must look busy to justify being here.’

This type of busyness can kill.

It can kill companies as opportunities slide by, masked by busyness over trivial things (because the more you look, the more trivial things there are to be busy with. Like vacuumming or repotting the office yucca.)

It can kill enthusiasm.  There’s nothing more soul-destroying than tinkering around the edges because there’s nothing to get your teeth stuck into (believe me, I know from experience).

It can kill the bigger picture.  Big pictures get dragged down by minutiae, their form dismembered by ever increasingly tiny decisions over things that won’t make a difference in the long run.

Yet, when we’re quiet and wondering what the next job will be (will there be a next job?), it feels like indulgence to go back to the bigger picture and make sure that it’s still looking healthy.  To take time out, to dream, to experiment and explore.

There is a fix for this.  Strategy.

Back to basics core business strategy.

If we’re busy because there’s not enough going on – or busy because there’s too much – this is an indication that our core strategy is breaking.

Something, somewhere, isn’t right.  Otherwise we’d have more work, or we’d be able to deal more efficiently with the work that we’ve got.

Busyness is a key indicator of strategic performance. 

When we stop being able to see the wood for the trees, this is the strongest indicator that we need to regroup, refine and revisit our core strategic purpose/promise.

It’s also the time that we get most tired, most exhausted, most disillusioned which feeds into the busyness cycle like water down a plughole.

So next time you start feeling like you’re getting too busy ask yourself one question: am I in business or busyness?

Listen to your answer, and take action accordingly…

Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.

Featured image for this post from Funkandjazz’s Flickr Photostream

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