Busy Is A Mindset

Image via Unsplashed.com / Brooke Lark

For years I’ve worn numerous hats, lived on airplanes and worked out of everything from coffee shops in Indiana and airports all over the world to corner offices in Manhattan.

I was always busy. On the go.

Now I’m not.

How is that possible? I work at a hot startup. I’m building and running several departments and countless side projects. I’m the personification of a busy person. Except I’m not. At least not in the way that matters most — my own perception.

People who always feel busy are usually stressed out and unhappy. They typically don’t value the time of others. They either end up doing countless hours of repetitive tasks they don’t like or working with people who drive them up a wall. They often cause this same nonsense to occur for others in their organization. There are never enough hours in the day.

Richard Branson is busier than you …
… but I bet you feel busier than he does.

Using myself as an example (cause you and I have more in common than either of us do with Richard Branson) — on paper I’m a busy guy. My calendar has more events than most, I have a bigger backlog of ‘to do’ items and more miles flown. Yet I dont feel as busy as most people do because I love my life and my job and I’m thankful for both.

This isn’t just because I have a ‘good’ job. Every job I’ve had since I worked at Burger King (when I was 16 — decades ago) was good in some way. Your job and your life are also quite good, or they can be, if you learn how to take advantage of it in a specific way. Namely being thankful for the opportunity you have. This isn’t easy for most people. It wasn’t always easy for me either.

This is a mindset shift.

My mindset and how I approach my work started shifting years ago. Working on a fairly challenging ‘devops’ project (before devops was a thing) for a client I realized that I truly enjoy talking to people and helping them win. It wasnt the code or the design. For me it was pushing through obstacles, collaborating with others and helping teams and companies succeed where they had failed or struggled that gave me a real sense of pride and made me enjoy the work.

This particular customer had struggled to get configuration management, testing, integration — anything modern honestly, to work for them. Most projects resulted in shelfware. Installed, but never used or maintained. I turned that around for them by training them up front and making the initial part of the project an interactive planning exercise (something I still do) where we figured out as a group what we needed to have in place for all of us as individuals to want to use the solution (aka ‘nice to have’ items). This was a seismic shift from how other projects had been executed.

It made them thankful for the opportunity and happy to work with each other.

This is what stops busy.

All of the project minutia and the long hours working on slides in a hotel located in an office park someplace in Texas gave me the right ingredients to figure out that being busy is just a matter of how you think about your time and whether you are thankful for what you are working on and who you are working with.

I was working long hours under tight deadlines with a customer that had numerous similar projects fail. I should have felt busy. I should have felt stressed and frustrated.

I didn’t.

I’m constantly seeing friends and colleagues struggle with feeling busy, being overwhelmed and overlooking the opportunities they have rather than being thankful. If you change your mindset you will stop feeling busy and start being a more positive, productive person.