The Most Comfortable Lie
There’s a good chance you lied to the last person who asked you for a favor. Someone asked for help, and you politely responded that you’d love to, but you’re just too busy. It’s the busyness curse. We tell this lie to others all the time. And why shouldn’t we? We do it in part to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. It’s an easy “out,” and a simple way of avoiding confrontation or being too blunt. Even so, this strategy doesn’t always solve the problem. Anything short of a hard NO sometimes doesn’t register with the person asking. We end up getting the request again and again. Although you might see these lies as harmless, you may actually be getting in the habit of deceiving yourself, too.
We need to explore why we feel too busy in the first place. Maybe we tell others we are too busy in order to avoid an honest conversation with ourselves. “That can’t be,” you might say. “I’m always busy, really!” There’s more to it than you think.
The Busyness Curse
We want to believe that we are short on time. After all, if we are busy, that must mean that we are doing something right. We wear the busyness like a badge of honour. We believe that to be too busy means that we are successful.
“Busyness. Busy. So busy. Crazy busy. This frantic self-congratulatory busyness is a distinctly upscale affectation”“Tim Kreider”
Busyness is a state of mind that’s self-imposed by choice. We dread what we might have to face in its absence. After spending long periods of time in a state of constant work, the empty feeling of free time can be terrifying. We feel as though we aren’t tending to our obligations, whether it’s true or not. The lack of busyness leaves us feeling unfulfilled. To ward off this emptiness, we fill that hole by keeping ourselves occupied. It makes us feel important and needed. A perpetual state of busyness may provide the only feelings of validation that give our lives some kind of meaning. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is unhealthy for both you and your business. You must force yourself to address the real issues.
“Stories let us lie to ourselves and those lies satisfy our desires.” Seth Godin
Believing Your Own Lies
Small business owners are notoriously overworked. Too many obligations, deadlines, and commitments keep their minds operating at constant levels of intense stress. Unlike the well-defined responsibilities of a position at a bigger company, business owners have to do everything in the early stages of a start up.
When it all starts to feel overwhelming, stop what you’re doing for a moment. Take a deep breath and reframe the conversation. When we tell ourselves we are too busy, we aren’t telling ourselves the truth. What we are really saying is, “this is not important enough for me,” or, “I don’t value that enough to spend my time on it.” If you find that these statements are genuinely true, that’s okay. If they’re lies, you need to address them.
I’ve been going to my local gym for seven years. The owner has been talking about updating his website and reworking his SEO since the day I joined. He’s been putting off this crucial task for nearly a decade. Essentially, he’s convinced himself that he’s been too busy for the last seven years to do his marketing work. As a result, his business is slowly dying. There are plenty of new gyms popping up all around whose owners are not too busy to properly tend to their websites.
When we tell ourselves the same lies over and over again, those lies become facts. The gym owner genuinely believes that he’s been too busy to get work done on his website, and he may lose his business because of it.
Staying busying by focusing on the wrong things helps ward off that restless feeling of inactivity, but at what cost?
5 Signs You‘re Just Busy, not Productive
You lack priorities.
You focus on the wrong tasks.
You value less important tasks because they produce immediate results.
You constantly strive for more productivity.
You look for shortcuts.
An Honest Self-Evaluation
The only way to accurately evaluate how you spend your time is to take a step back and identify the extraneous tasks that are draining the time you do have. Great leaders allocate thinking time. They block out an hour or so every week just to think. Many small business owners see this hour of thought as a luxury that they can’t afford. If you don’t have an extra hour per week to think critically about how you spend your time, then you have a job, not a business.
Is Your Business Running You?
If you can’t spend 5-10 percent of your week working ON your business and not IN your business, you actually have a job, not a business. And that means that your business is running you, not the other way around. Remember when you were an employee and you had to ask permission to leave early or take an hour off? Is that still you?
Businesses should be designed and structured the way that you want them to be. It’s your business, after all; you’re the architect, the constructor, and the visionary. You’re the one pulling all the strings–or you should be, anyway.
You are the only one who can stop the cycle of letting your business run you. The only way to start the change is to set aside some time, even if it’s just an hour every week. If you’re still convinced that you don’t have the time, and are content to let your business run you, then maybe Eccountability is not a good fit for you.
Time to be Honest
Is it time (pun intended) to eliminate the white lie? Are you ready to reassess how you manage your time, rethink your priorities, and learn when to say yes and when to say no?
Time is our most precious commodity. Stop using lying as a time-management skill. Step back, arrange your priorities, and get honest.
Try our free 7 step accountability mini-course to help you free up your time.