Are you too busy to be successful?

Based on Dorie Clark’s book “The Long View”

Rejection is part of every entrepreneur’s life. The proposal that is not accepted, the call that is not returned, the blog does not instantly go viral, the client who terminates a contract. But if you believe social media, stories in the press, or courses that offer instant income, you could feel that everyone else has the secret to success figured out and only you are struggling to gain traction.

Maybe you tell yourself that you need to work harder, put in longer hours, expand your  social media presence, start podcasting, writing a blog. These take time, and it is likely you are hustling as hard and as fast as you possibly can. You do not have time to breath let alone think. Even though you know its not right, you focus on execution and the short term.

What can you do about it? Dorie Clark suggests you adopt strategic patience. Strategic patience is the ability to do the work without any guarantee of success, to toil without accolades, or recognition.   To accept that things will take longer than you expect. It is writing that blog when no one reads it, to test your ideas and eventually develop a following. You will not be able to see progress on a weekly, monthly, or maybe even on a yearly basis. Big goals are not achievable in the short term. But most things can be achieved in the long term and your efforts will not be incremental, eventually they will be exponential.

The first step is clear the decks and create White Space for yourself.

Why are you so busy that you cannot find the time for things that are important? Research has shown in some societies, generally Western orientated societies, that busyness is equated with higher social status. If we are busy, we are in high demand and we are being sought after. We tell folks we are super busy to make sure they know it.

Busyness can be an anesthetic, when we are busy there is no time to ask ourselves the more difficult questions. Do I know where I and my business are going?   As a solo entrepreneur busyness may create an illusion of success, you are earning more as you spend more time at work. But trading dollars for hours limits your earning potential. There are only 168 hours in a week, and you cannot work all of them. In the corporate world busyness is often equated to dedication and commitment. While post covid face time is less obvious, jumping on a zoom call at 8:00 PM or answering an e-mail at 5:00 AM creates the same illusion.

It’s probable that there are many inefficiencies in your day, things you put up with and probably do not even know it. If you allow your working hours to expand, you will likely never address these inefficiencies. Things like tasks that should be delegated, but which you do yourself because training someone will take time. But if you adjust your priorities to focus on what is important to you, you will no longer accept these inefficiencies, you will take action to eliminate them.

You will ask yourself

  • Why am I doing this task at all? Can someone else do it? Or should it be done at all?
  • Where should I focus my effort to get the greatest return?
  • If I was starting fresh today, would I choose to continue to invest my time in this project?

David Allen, author of the well-recognized productivity guide, “Getting Things Done” says “You do not need time to have a good idea, you need space. And you cannot think appropriately if you do not have space in your head” You do not need to set aside hundreds of hours for long term thinking, but you do need to give yourself time to think. Agatha Christie is quoted as saying the best time for planning a book is when doing the dishes. Today many of us craze input. We constantly look at social media, scrolling for hours through Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram. I watch folks during my commute staring at their phones. Give yourself time to produce some output. I make it a habit not to look at my phone during my commute, instead I let my mind wander. Occasionally an idea for developing my business comes to mind. Then I need to find the time to take action.

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