The Cult of Busy
I do quite a few things. Run a startup. Run two non-profits. Mentor queer kids. Spend a lot of time with my family, partner and our dog. Play video games. Paint the house. Cook for friends. Take my dog on long walks. Even, gasp, sleep!
A lifetime ago on my first entrepreneurial rodeo, I did not know many of the things that I know now.
I know now, that:
- Sleep is the most important, ‘sleep for the weak, no sleep till I’m dead’ is just pointless and unhealthy bravado – because I got so close to the edge
- Health is important. Many of my peers have now had a few attempts at entrepreneurship, and many of us have worked ourselves to the bone and back
- Focus is everything, and time management is better. There’s no value to working insane long hours when you’re not focused. I have better awareness of my attention span and focus patterns now (short bursts, varied, always have to be doing something insanely fun or difficult, preferably both)
- Neglecting friends and family isn’t ideal, they’re worth a lot more than most business. You also get better at navigating friendships vs acquaintances
- Saying no is okay
- Saying yes to things that matter is also
- Getting something done imperfectly is better than waiting for perfection
- Being busy is a state of mind
Some people are perpetually busy. Maybe some people really are genuinely busy. I try to be un-busy, which is not the same as being unproductive. Even if I’m really busy, I want to never say I am. I will always have time to chat with a suicidal friend who calls me at 4am. I will always have time for anyone. I will always have time for my dad, mum, girlfriend, siblings, nieces. I want to always have the head space to be actively learning new things, instead of blocking anything being of a mistakenly diagnosed case of busy.
There’s a difference between being consciously un-busy and being frivolous. I suspect I might have some kind of attention deficiency disorder, so I need to be juggling three things at a time. I did not know that before – so felt unproductive, sad, and bored most of my life when shoved into the do-one-thing religion, which never fit. I also got very, very ill when I was busy, in a previous life.
Now I do lots of things, but I am not busy. I am occupied, but I’ll always have time for sleep, health, and happiness.
I am awful at calendaring, so I’ve hired a PA to help me do that. Calendaring makes me busy and sad, so I need to outsource that.
Today, there are a ton of things I’d like to do. There are always things to do. But I would rather focus on the meaningfulness of the things I have to do, rather than on the having to do in and of its own.
My to-do list might be massive, but I want to never close off my heart.
If I have to be insanely busy, which is a state I am getting to very rapidly, I want to be purposefully occupied, not and never too busy for anyone.