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You are Not Busy
Stop wearing your 'busyness badge' and start doing what matters.
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Elon Musk runs three separate billion-dollar companies and works 100 hours a week.
Presidents who have to monitor what’s going on in the entire world who can only sleep four hours per night max…are busy.
You have a 9 to 5 job, (probably) watch T.V. every day, and (probably) spend your weekends relaxing or having a good time.
You’re not busy.
You say you are because it’s the perfect excuse for avoiding all the tasks that would actually move the needle in your life.
“Busy” is a Negative Spell You Cast on Yourself
I’m sure your life is filled with activity. I had a 9 to 5 job before. I’m a father. I was married.
I get it.
You do have a ton of obligations that matter. You have to work. (If you want a stable home life) You have to be a good partner and parent. You have to run errands.
Life wouldn’t be any fun if you never hung out with your friends, never had any downtime, and worked your entire life away.
You’re not lazy.
You’re probably doing a damn good job at tending to your responsibilities.
You’ve succeeded in many areas of life.
All those things can be true along with this next sentence being true as well.
You’re wildly inefficient, you do a bunch of tasks that don’t need to be done or can be delegated, and you prioritize things you shouldn’t so you can avoid certain challenges.
This is fine. You’re a human being.
What’s not fine is pretending like you don’t have control over how you spend your time when you do.
There’s a difference between understanding you have things to do and calling yourself busy.
Words cast spells.
The word busy has a flustered and frustrating context that comes with it, which makes it even harder to be productive.
It subconsciously communicates you’re overwhelmed by life and can’t handle the tasks you have on your plate.
It’s easy to tell yourself this story about how exacerbated and busy you are when you truly just need to work on these areas of your life:
Prioritization: I don’t believe in time management. You can’t manage time, but you can manage what you choose to prioritize what matters and what doesn’t.
Energy management: You might be structuring your life in a way that doesn’t maximize your potential by harnessing your energy and replenishing it the right way.
The language you use to describe yourself: Language shapes reality. And your self-talk about time is likely ruining your productivity.
We all get the same 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week.
For all of you peanut gallery types who say:
“That’s not true. Rich people have others to help them out!”
Guess what? Most wealthy and successful individuals who have free time now are self-made and had to work their asses off to reach that point. So, that argument is moot as well.
I’m going to give you the information you need to be more productive, but only you can have that gut-check moment and decide that you’re going to stop BSing yourself and start being productive instead of reactive.
You Get What You Prioritize
When you get a little fit of a following online, you start to run into some interesting characters.
I teach people how to get paid to write online. One of the biggest complaints I hear is that people don’t have enough time to write because they are sOOoooOOOOoooooo BUUuuusssyYYY.
This guy tells me he has no time to write. I tell him to give me a breakdown of his time.
He does and part of his routine is a whole hour for eating breakfast in the morning. I said, "Why don't you skip breakfast and write?" He said, "It's tempting...but." Tells you all you need to know about his priorities.
Another guy tells me he wants to write more but he’s stretched too thin. I ask him what he does with the 6 hours he has awake.
He said he had work and commute for 10 hours a day and then…
Six hours of errands and chores per day.
Your examples probably aren’t as ludicrous as these, but you are doing this on some level.
You’re prioritizing things you don’t have to, which keeps you from carving out time to do what really matters, like, you know, following your dreams.
Here’s a list of things you could de-prioritize:
Cooking every day: Alex Hormozi ate Chipotle every day while he was building his business so he could have more free time. I rarely cook and either order takeout or get healthy meals delivered.
Running errands on a daily basis: Pick one day per week to batch all of your errands. Stop dealing with petty annoying tasks 7 days per week
Down-time/winding down: Look, if you are broke, or working a job you hate, the last thing you need is downtime. You need to work that 5 to 9 after your 9 to 5.
Requests and favors from friends: Not forever, but just for this season of your life, you can learn to say ‘no’ more often.
“Fun”: booze, barbecues, going to craft fairs, hobbies, T.V., concerts. Again, not forever, but for a time to get your projects off the ground.
When I was trying to get my writing career off the ground, I wrote for two hours every morning before work, I wrote on lunch breaks, I wrote on weekends, and I wrote seven days a week for four years straight.
I went without watching T.V. or going to parties for two years.
Now, I travel, hang out with friends, watch Netflix, have drinks, and enjoy hobbies because I can set up my life in a way where I only have to work about four hours per day.
This isn’t a moral thing for me. It’s about efficiency. For a time in your life, you have to be a little bit unbalanced to achieve lofty goals. You’ll have to say no, make sacrifices, and spend a little less time having ‘fun.’
It will be a challenge and you will find yourself working harder than usual and doing extra activities on top of an already full schedule, but you’ll put yourself in a position to have more time, freedom, and flexibility in the future.
Trade a few years of your life for the rest of your life.
Energy Management is the Key to Productivity
This routine is a cheat code for success:
Wake up an hour (or two) earlier than normal
Get straight to work on your task — side business, studying, workout, whatever
Don’t look at your phone at all when you wake up
Don’t check emails
Use that hour to focus on a valuable, preferably profitable, skill
I prefer to work first thing in the morning because I had the most energy, most willpower, and the least distractions.
I wrote on the side of my 9 to 5 job for years. If I tried to write after work, it just wouldn’t be possible for me. I had a demanding job as a marketing director for an agency. I had clients who tried my patience.
There’s a phenomenon known as decision fatigue — each time you make a decision, your willpower decreases (fun fact: this is why they put candy at the checkout line at grocery stores. You’ve made so many decisions about what to buy that you cave and buy junk food because your willpower is depleted).
By the end of the day, I had made so many decisions at my job I just wouldn’t have the will to focus on my writing. So I structure my day in a way that harnessed the power of my energy.
Even if you don’t follow this exact routine, find a way to work with your energy rhythms. Some people are night owls and feel more creative and energized at night.
There’s a concept called ‘chronotypes’ that says people have different time windows where they are most productive. I’m a “bear” chronotype, meaning I feel most creative from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. When I had a 9 to 5, I didn’t have the luxury of choosing when to work on my writing, but this is often the time window I use for creative work now that I’m a full-time writer.
Energy management goes deeper than just time windows too.
Are you eating foods that boost or drain your energy? I fast. I don’t eat my first meal until 2 or 3 p.m. I’ve found that I work better on an empty stomach. As soon as I eat a meal, especially a carb-heavy meal, I get tired and feel brain fog.
Are you exercising regularly? If you work out a lot, you’ll notice how you feel like garbage if you skip exercising for a few days. People who don’t exercise walk around lethargic all day. They feel like garbage, but since it’s their default state, they can’t tell.
Do you sleep enough? Go to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier. Avoid electronics an hour before bed. Do something else like read a book, have a conversation with your spouse (you know, actually spend time with them), or meditate.
When you learn your energy patterns and prioritize the activities you do throughout the day, your productivity will skyrocket.
The Hill I’ll Die On
Everyone has ‘hills they’ll die on,’ - things you believe and won’t compromise on.
Self-talk is everything. You should make an ironclad rule that you don’t speak spells over yourself that rob you of responsibility.
“Life just got in the way.” No, it didn’t. You made choices, prioritized certain tasks over others, and decided to not work on a certain task. It’s strange how life always seems to get in the way of delayed long-term goals, but it rarely gets in the way of leisure.
“Life threw me a curveball.” Are you only good at hitting fastballs down the middle? Imagine a baseball player complaining to their coach that the pitcher doesn’t throw pitches in the middle of their strike zone. You must learn to be adaptable.
“I’m overwhelmed.” Using this phrase makes it twice as difficult to be productive. You’re putting yourself into a flustered state.
“I just have so much going on right now.” I’m sure that’s true. But it’s also true that you don’t have to do everything you’re doing right now, you’re choosing to.
“I had to [insert anything].” One time my brother told me he was going to work on building his email list, but he didn’t because he had to go on a trip with a friend. Nope, he chose to, which is fine, but I made him own it.
Of course, life forces your hand. You can choose not to go to work, but then you’d be poor. It’s still a choice nonetheless.
We all have different circumstances. A single mom with three kids is objectively busier than a 20-year-old with no responsibilities.
Still, whatever your situation is, your choices are either to work with what you have and try to build a better life or maintain the status quo.
I learned a sales technique from Alex Hormozi that contains a deeply valuable life lesson. It’s a response he gives to people when they use the “I don’t have time objection.”
Here’s the response (paraphrased):
If you say you can’t work on this because now isn’t the right time or the conditions aren’t perfect, you’re basically telling yourself that you’ll fail anytime life gets a bit chaotic. If, instead, you learn how to fit this into you’re already busy life, you’ll be even more productive when you do have more free time, and you know you’ll always be able to keep at it no matter what.
There will never be a right time.
Conditions will never be ideal.
You will always have stuff going on.
You have to decide whether or not you’re going to let being “busy” keep you from building the type of life you want to live.
Most people spend a lifetime being “busy” only to look back at their life and wonder what it is that they really accomplished.
Be honest with yourself.
You can carve out more room for purposeful activities.
You can learn to say ‘no’ to requests from friends and family or activities you don’t actually need to do.
In your heart of hearts, you know there’s a version of you that doesn’t use lack of time as an excuse and could accomplish your big hairy audacious goals.
Why not just be that person?
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