Busyness vs. Business

Crowds of Business People Crossing Busy Intersection

You clocked more than 80 hours last week. There are stacks of papers, binders, and folders everywhere. Crumpled papers lie next to the waste can and piles of empty Via wrappers hide your coffee cup from view. You are busy!

Yeah RIGHT! If this even comes close to describing you, we need to talk. Seriously! There are one of two possibilities for explaining this syndrome: 1. Either you are working really hard the wrong way - or

2. you have too much work that should be delegated.

But I can’t delegate.. I am a one person gig. Listen here (Mister or Miss), you are wasting your precious time and energy on things that elevate your busyness, not your business. Let’s define.

BUSYNESS = 1. the quality or condition of being busy

2. lively but meaningless activity

BUSINESS = 1. to apply oneself to serious matters

2. to concentrate on work

Thank you Dictionary.com

Sometime ago I had a boss that used to randomly appear throughout the day to quietly sit and observe the happenings within a department. They were listening for keyboard typing and phone calls. If your desk was a mess, you were viewed as a hard worker. If you were typing and making phone calls, you were dedicated to the success of the company.

Problem is, this isn’t an accurate representation of hard work and dedication, it is busyness for the sake of appearing busy.

A luncheon can be more successful in business than three to six months of email. Content drives the email vs. phone call decision. Rule #1 Make a phone call if you are building a relationship Rule #2 Write an email if you are maintaining an existing relationship Rule #3 Move relationships from one level to the next in person or by phone.

Why are you receiving 100,000 emails every day? Tip: If you aren’t responding to 70% or more of your email, the email content you are receiving is junk. Filter out the junk by delegating and communicating clearly your expectations for email content. If Sally in accounting CCs you on all her email messages to keep you in the loop, express your appreciation for her thoughtfulness and let her know that if anything comes up, you are confident in her ability to sort it out and help you when the need arises. That’s it! You just cleared 650 email messages from your account each day. Work on it - this is a lifesaver.

Let’s talk paperwork. So you have a ton of paperwork, huh? Balancing, very carefully, the priority of business growth with the ratio of paperwork is vital to your success. We all have forms to fill out, checks to write, accounts to balance, blah… blah… This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to complete it all and it certainly doesn’t indicate that you are the only living person on earth that can complete it all.

Delegate or hire someone to help you. Yes - I said hire, as in contractor or employee (if you want to go down that path). It really isn’t as crazy as you make it seem. See the most valuable things we have is TIME. Time is money that becomes more and more valuable as more time is lost. TIP: Your ability to grow your business and increase profitability is the most valuable aspect of your business. Spending all your time focused on paperwork doesn’t leave you enough time to concentrate on what is really important.

If you aren’t sure, try it. Hire someone for a couple hours to filter through your email, schedule phone calls (and collect agendas - that’s another post), complete your paperwork, and more! During that three hours, you could have closed a deal with a big customer, written a chapter in your next best selling novel, developed a strategy to conquer your goals, and/or created a new product design that will grow you millions of dollars and the opportunity to give back in greater ways.

My desk is always spotless. I am little OCD about cleanliness - not clinically - but you will notice my over exaggerated tendency to keep things clean in time. Visitors always come my office, see my desk, and (in shock and awe) ask how it is possible for someone as busy as me to keep my desk so super clean. “It’s easy” I say.

If you aren’t working on it - put it away. Some people think that by leaving items in their inbox or laid out every so nicely on their desk that it will serve as a reminder of how much work they need to get done. How can this method do anything but cause you stress all the time? When you arrive - there is a reminder of how much you need to do and, who knows how long it has been sitting there and when it is due. When you leave - there is a reminder of how much you need to stress tonight over how much work you need to get done tomorrow. Maybe you should come in a couple hours early, or maybe you should stay a couple hours late. Are you kidding me? No way!

TIP: Scan through the paperwork. Things that can be done in under 5 minutes, make a pile and then complete it. Everything else can go in a drawer or filing cabinet until you need it. Practice putting things away when you are done work on them and at the end of the day. Having a clean desk will relieve a lot of stress and tension.

I hope you are already feeling better. I also hope you understand and appreciate the difference between busyness and business. You should be off to a good start in the business direction. Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions by leaving comments below.


April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.

Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.

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