One of the first tips somebody gave me when I opened the first of my businesses was the following:
“Never tell people you’re not busy. Nobody wants do deal with someone who isn’t busy.”
At first, I blindly took this advice. It makes sense. People want to be part of something that’s successful. It’s how some truly amazing (and terrible) changes have happened in the world, by people basically following the crowd. I also understand that people equate being busy with being successful. And for the most part, they’d be correct.
And then I read The 4 Hour Workweek.
For those of you unfamiliar, The 4 Hour Workweek is a book at advocates everyone to set up businesses that require very little in time to maintain. Everything about it is about finding ways to spend less time doing mundane tasks. Whether a person outsources it or finds a more efficient way of doing it, the message is to simply not spend so much time at it. While I have a slight problem with the outsource everything message, for the most part the book is a solid read.
While I read the book, I started thinking down a different path. Specifically, what’s so valuable about being busy?
You’re busy, but with what? Pointless meetings? Spending a bunch of time and money on marketing campaigns that you don’t even know work? Chasing business that you shouldn’t really even bother with? How much of the stuff you do every day is truly important? I’m betting it isn’t as much as you’d think.
Why does society put a premium on being busy? How often is the oracle of business looked upon admirably because he’s so busy? We equate activity with success, even though it’s hardly a linear relationship. Remember, Warren Buffett probably works less than what you do.
Or we get the guy with too many hats. You probably know a person like this. They’re so busy and they have so much going on that they never return phone calls or generally run their business right. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to start a business to compete with anyone, pick one of these people. By the time they realize what’s going on, you’ll be well on your way to slaughtering them.
We live in a capitalistic society. Ambition is good. Passive income is better. If you can be lazy and make money, then you should. Being busy is really overrated.