The Problem with “I’m Too Busy”

Business owners wear many hats and have endless things to do. Unfortunately, some of us let this busyness prevent us from growing.  We hit a plateau, but often find ourselves unable to allocate the time to make the necessary changes. 

How do you get past the plateau of being “too busy” to grow?

Let’s start with a teaching from Stephen R. Covey regarding the Time Target.  He recommends spending 20% of your time on activities that are Important, but not Urgent.  Activities that fall into this category are things like Planning, Education & Training, People Development, etc.  These activities are critical to the future of your company but might not result in more widgets getting shipped tomorrow. 

So if we follow the 20% recommendation, and assume your work 40 hours/week (we wish, right?), that’s 32 hours per month (4 days) where you should be focused on improving yourself first, then others.

While that doesn’t sound like too much time to give up right now, when you’re in the thick of running your business, it often is. 

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t be afraid to politely decline requests that don’t align with your priorities.
  2. If customers are eating up your time, raise your prices to weed out those with little return while maintaining your income. 
  3. Minimize distractions: Silence notifications, schedule social media breaks, and consider using tools like website blockers during focused work periods.
  4. Delegate and automate: Even with the labor shortage there may be options, such as a VA, or industry specific automations that can help you.

The thing to remember is that your business will only be as Big or Good as you are.  If you stop growing, so will your business.  Those who are at the top of their game will perform much better than those who just keep slogging away, hoping to survive.

Here are some things you could do with just one of those four days each month:

  • Spend a day learning new life and business concepts.
  • Spend a day with other business owners dealing with the same challenges you are, collaborating and sharing best practices.
  • Pick one thing you learned and spend some time planning to actually implement it.  Why bother learning if you don’t plan to apply the learning?

The 8 hours you spend working ON yourself and your business will turn into a multiplier of your effectiveness, or Leverage, for the other days of the month.  Remember, Stephen R. Covey also taught us to be continually “sharpening the saw”, as the sharper saw cuts through the log much more quickly than the dull blade. 

The question isn’t whether you can afford to take the time, it’s can you afford not to?

Author: Mark McNulty, Business Coach in Louisville, KY

The Problem with “I’m Too Busy”