What keeps me busy?

Published on Aug 11, 2020

Prominent entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet say FOCUS is key. How do you keep focus? By defining what matters and rigorously eliminate busy work. What is busy work? Tasks that make me feel productive, that I probably like but are not connected to my main priority. Or how Gary Keller puts it:

"Until I've completed my ONE THING everything else is a distraction."

Why do I want to eliminate busy work? I want to focus on what matters to achieve my goals in terms of revenue and profit, so I also have time with family, friends, being in nature, moving my body and doing things outside of work. 

Apparently, Warren Buffet has been spending 80% of time reading and thinking his entire career (see article). Another famous example is Tim Ferris and his 4h work week. 

Who wouldn't want more time? I'd definitely could use time to read and learn. 

My current ONE Thing is to start my business, get clients and make a certain amount of revenue til December 31, 2020. 

Here is a list of things that keep me busy but are not connected to my ONE Thing:

  • Coffees: Scheduling and meeting interesting people for (virtual) coffees, catchups and exchanges, without a goal that is connected to my current prio 1 or are for pure fun
  • Meetings: Any meeting without a clear purpose, goal or agenda
  • Networking: Random networking and going on events or conferences for purposes other than just learning or for fun
  • Messages: Replying to (most) emails or Linkedin inmails 
  • Social Media: Scrolling aimlessly through social media. Spending more then 15min on social media per day. Some people would say Social Media in general but as I want to build up an online business and plan to use Instagram and Linkedin as marketing channels I want to invest time there to share my content and reply to comments. 
  • Calls: Answering the phone immediately when it rings. Or being disturbed by the phone in the first place. Most calls are not emergencies (in my line of business) and I can call back later
  • Whatsapp: Keeping up with Whatsapp group chats daily 
  • News: reading or watching the news 
  • Analysis Paralysis: Googling and doing research on the upcoming task instead of just doing it
  • For free: Speaking or giving advice for free
  • Design: Spending forever on making it look good, be it the design of a pitch deck, a proposal, business cards, instagram posts, podcast covers or the website 
  • Attitude: Being perfectionistic 

I want to avoid doing these things at all costs. How? That's what I'll think about.

Fast Company has a good list of 6 questions to ask yourself whether a task should be done, here are my favourite four:

  1. Is this task important to my customers?
  2. Is it worth the extra time, even if I love doing it? Does it contribute to my success?
  3. Would anyone notice if I stopped doing this task?
  4. Is the timing to do this task now or flexible?

One good example I recall reading somewhere was that one coach always wrote action items for their clients and sent them as a follow-up email after the session. The customer could do this themselves, right? And if they did, this could even be beneficial for them in terms of their commitment.