Daily Action Fail #3: The “Busyness Helps My Business” Approach
Welcome to Part 3 in my series on why most people fail when trying to use small daily actions to get things done. For your convenience, here is the intro to the series:
“Research shows that consistent, daily action, even just 15 minutes per day, will help you reach your goals faster, and is more fun and rewarding, too. People who work in short, daily sprints make more progress and are more creative than those who work in the occasional larger blocks of time.
And yet, people are not necessarily successful when they try this approach. I think this is a shame; everyone can use this technique to help them make steady progress on their VIPP — Very Important Procrastinated-On Project.
The thing is, most people go about this the wrong way. In this series of blog posts, I’m going to examine the reasons that people fail with small daily actions. I’ll also help you with concrete steps as to what to do instead.”
In this blog post, I’ll tell you about the “Busyness Helps My Business” approach to small daily actions, in which believe, or act like you believe, that if you run around like a chicken with its head cut off, you will grow your business faster.
Here’s what goes wrong with the “Busyness Helps My Business” Approach
If you’re the kind of entrepreneur who is chronically in this state of Busyness, then you always feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, that everything is taking much too long, and that time is running out. It’s an unpleasant state to be in.
It’s as if you’re watching yourself as an outsider, saying, “Wow, look at how busy she looks! She must be getting a lot done!”
When you’re in this impatient frame of mind, it’s quite difficult to get yourself to limit yourself to short daily work sessions on your VIPP — Very Important Procrastinated-On Project.
You feel like you’re being held back, and the old familiar refrains start racing around your head. Refrains like, “I can’t believe how slowly this is moving” or “I’ll never get it done at this pace,” or “This felt like a piece of cake. It can’t be that easy.”
That last refrain leads me to another cause of the “Busyness helps my Business” approach. Many people have it in their head that “it only works if it hurts.” In other words, If you’re not slaving away, suffering internal torture and unhappy with what you’re doing, then it’s not real work.
Working on your VIPP in small daily actions is fairly painless. This painlessness, ironically, stops people who depend on Busyness from continuing with their small daily action. It doesn’t cause enough pain, and pain = progress if you believe in Busyness.
Another reason behind the push to Busyness is that “…we ordinarily use the blind rushing of busyness to escape and avoid threatening tasks like writing for public consumption,” (Robert Boice, “Advice to New Faculty Members”). I often teach in my webinars how the great work that you are presenting to the world, whether it’s a book, a business or a bookcase, is what is closest to your soul and therefore the most likely to lead to defense mechanisms like resistance. So remaining busy is just another way to avoid doing the scary work of finishing.
The fact is that the frenetic state of mind that you find yourself in does not help you get more done, and it means that you spend way more time on unimportant trifles than on doing what really matters to grow your business. It’s hard to be calm enough to set realistic priorities when you’re feeling desperate.
What to do instead of the “Busyness Helps my Business” Approach
What is the opposite of Busyness?
You’ve probably heard of Mindfulness Meditation, where you stay focused on the present moment, on the process of what you’re doing, and not overly focusing on the immediate result. When you’re meditating, you accept whatever thoughts float by, you don’t judge them, and you don’t force them away.
Robert Boice, quoted above, points out that replacing Busyness with this mindful frame of mind will help you actually be kinder to yourself.
Busyness is the opposite of being kind to yourself. It involves berating yourself for not doing enough, yelling at yourself about how little time is left and how long everything is taking, and demanding perfection.
Being mindful means accepting the speed that your tasks take, being kind to yourself when your output is less than perfect, and being patient about the completion of your VIPP.
Try spending about 20 minutes on your Daily Action. If you usually need to be in a state of Busyness, then you will start to notice internal pushback in the first or second day.
Your first task is to monitor yourself. Count how many times you say impatient, unkind, or hurry-it-up remarks to yourself. Ideally, write them down. This can be a mind-blowing exercise in itself. When you realize how often you chastise yourself, you’ll realize how this kind of self-talk is not exactly conducive to creative and productive thinking.
The next step is to replace that self-talk with more realistic, patient, kind phrases. Again, writing down these kinder responses can help you get in touch with how it feels to be treated with kindness.
Working in a constant state of Busyness means that we have “chronic hopes that a better circumstance or self must lie ahead if we just work harder and faster,” (again, Robert Boice). I think it’s sad to live your life that way.
Instead, consider admitting that if you work at a steady, slower, more deliberate pace, that you will live in a better circumstance, and be a better self now. That’s a much better way to live.
And it’s a better way to help your business.
Do you subscribe to the idea that Busyness helps your Business? Are you willing to try to reshape that idea?