Archives for posts with tag: Busy

I subscribe to lots of different publications and newsletters, some of which are focused on lifestyle. One of them is the succinct, informative and weekly email called 5-Bullet Friday from the very well known Tim Ferriss. You can find him and it via or else on Twitter via @tferriss and #5BulletFriday.

I was reading one of these the other day – a Friday obviously, but I can’t remember which one – and in the ‘Quote I’m Pondering’ feature were the following words by a Thomas Merton, whom wikipedia describes as ‘an American Catholic writer, theologian and mystic. The words resonated with me and I repeat them here:

“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence ….
(and that is) activism and overwork. The rush and pressure
of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form,
of its innate violence.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of
conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands,
to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone
in everything, is to succumb to violence.

The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace.
It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the
fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of
inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

What I like about the quote is that as a commentary on modern life it could have been written yesterday, when in fact it dates to at least half a century ago, since Mr Merton died in 1968.

In our headlong rush to get stuff done – and I’m as guilty as the next person, not just because I prefer to have lots of small things on the go rather than one massive thing – we become one of these people who ‘try to do too much’ and we diminish the good we do, not increase it. Was true, still is true, probably will be too.



In the olden days, by which I mean in the last century when I was learning my managerial trade, the received wisdom amongst managers was that if you wanted to get something done, you gave it to the person who was the busiest.

The theory goes, I suppose, that the person with more on their plate who is better at getting things done will have more chance of completing the additional task. This assumes, of course, that busy is directly proportional to productive. It also sends a signal to the less able or less committed member of staff that by appearing to be doing less they will continue to see other people’s workload increase to a greater extent than theirs.

It is a short-term approach that has the medium-to-long term effect of alienating and burning out the very people who you want to keep in the business if at all possible. It also does not address the problem of the less able or less committed, who are clearly in need of more training, coaching, and dialogue to help them improve.

As someone who prides himself on getting things done, on executing a high volume of important projects, I can see both sides to the argument. But, as I argued earlier, it is a question of time, that most precious of commodities. Short-term gain, at the expense of long term benefit, is simply a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s not sustainable. It’s not good management either.

There are two types of busy.

In our yin and yang working lives, the first type of busy is the productive type, where you are focused, you have the end goal in mind, and you are getting through stuff. You’re giving people what they need to progress their own projects and they’re giving you what you need for success. You’re like a machine, energised, nothing can stop you. This is good busy.

The other type of busy is bad busy. You’re bogged down, maybe in admin, you’re doing tasks of low value, you’re switching between tasks and not getting them done. You can’t reach the people you need and the stuff that people need from you is long or difficult to complete. You’re frustrated and annoyed. You’re not productive.

It goes without saying that you need to maximise good busy, and minimise bad busy. How do you achieve this? By planning, being honest with yourself and others, setting the right expectations and executing. In other words, working smarter. Working smarter is always good busy.

Even when you’re convinced you have a strong case for your prospect investing in you, it can still be really, really hard to let your prospect know that. These people are so busy it seems they don’t have the time or the inclination to fix the situation by talking with you, and that’s usually because they’re being approach by 19 other people who feel they have the answer to the prospect’s problems.

These people are practically impossible to reach. They don’t take calls, they won’t take meetings, they don’t read your emails, they bin your brochures, they’re ‘in a meeting’ if you call into their office. So how do you get through to them to persuade them that you are one of the 3 things they really must do on a given day?

There are three very important things to bear in mind. Firstly, you have to keep your message succinct. You need to be able to articulate in a clear, understandable fashion what you can do for these people. You will inevitably get their voicemail or their gatekeeper when you call, so you need to crystallise this when you leave your message. After all, you want them to call you back, so if you can’t get to the point quickly, they will never hear it.

For example: ‘Hi Jane, this is Paul Dilger. I can reduce your working week by 5 hours. I know this because it’s what our customers tell us. I need 20 minutes of your time to prove it to you. You can call me back on 12345678. Thanks for listening.’

Or maybe: ‘Hi Jane, this is Paul Dilger. My research tells me you’re only invoicing 85% of the work you’re actually doing for your clients. I can get that up to 100% within a week with our software. That’s an extra 15% for zero extra effort. You can get me on 12345678 to see how it works. Thanks for listening.’

Secondly, you need to make sure that what you’re selling is a major priority for them. Will it hurt them if they don’t fix it, or can they put up with it? If you’re not important to them, you have no chance.

Thirdly, you have to make it straightforward for them to deal with you, including buying from you. Simplicity is the key. Simple is harder to do, but yields better rewards.

For those with a major thirst for this subject area, there’s plenty of really good stuff written about the methodology of selling to busy people. Jill Konrath‘s SNAP Selling is a good example.