I have a confession: I work from 6 am until 9 pm, 6.5 days a week.
The half-day is Sunday, when I clock off at 12 pm and hang out with my wife until 9 pm. That’s the only real time I get off right now. No joke.
Right now I’m working harder than ever before. There’s hustle culture and then there’s obsession. This schedule is more insanity. It should require rehab. I’m not proud of it.
My wife hates it.
I hate it.
The reason I’m working these hours is because of fear. The fear comes from the stark reality I will be a father soon. I have no idea what that means. But survival instincts have kicked in.
It’s not just my future daughter that worries me. Two close family members are undergoing serious medical treatment for illnesses that will likely kill them in the future. Their expiry dates are unknown.
Maybe a few months. Maybe a few years. What is known is that what they die of is now a certainty.
Being busy takes my mind off it.
The thing nobody ever tells you
I work hard because I run an online education startup.
It’s still early days. No one tells you that the first 5 years of business are bloody hard. I should know as this isn’t my first rodeo. But no, I forgot.
There are no magical fairies that come and reduce your workload when you and a friend are building a business. There’s no boss or HR to complain to.
And then there’s the writing. I don’t just write. No. I’m obsessed with writing. That’s nothing new though. I’ve been writing online for a long time while always working a full-time job.
Dear reader, you probably think I’m busy.
Yesterday I learned the truth: I’m not busy. I’m just unorganized.
Disorganization is the real pandemic
Every day I hear from busy people.
Some wear it as a badge of honor. Some are quietly drowning in busyness. They don’t dream of winning the lottery or inheriting a million dollars. All they want is to not be busy. I feel like that.
But as I said, I now know it’s disorganization. How?
Recently I started talking to virtual assistant companies. I want to see if I can heal from busyness … and get some help. The normal process is you tell them what you’re up to. You list out all the tasks you do and even do a recording of your screen for an hour or two so they can see you at work.
The feedback I got wasn’t pretty.
“You’re all over the place. You’re disorganized. You’re doing so many manual tasks. How the bloody hell do you function like this?”
The answer: barely.
Problem #1 — Free tools
Much of my wasted time is due to manual processes.
I’m a software subscription tightarse.
I can’t bare to give Silicon Valley another dollar of my Aussie money that I bust my ass for. So until recently I’ve used nothing but free tools.
The worst one is Microsoft Outlook. There’s a reason I hate everything they build. It’s clunky, slow, and hard to use. Because I have free email I have to constantly waste time trying to save inbox space and free up storage.
Yesterday I bought Google Workspace. Already I can feel a productivity uplift and my email inbox is ten times easier to search than crappy Outlook.
Now I have paid video conferencing too, so I can have a proper video call without feeling in a hurry because the free time is about to run out.
Solution: pay for tools that save time ya tightarse.
Problem #2 — Digital Nomad blogs
I’ve read one too many of these.
When the 4-Hour Workweek came out the digital nomad revolution spread like wildfire.
It’s mostly a joke. Just ask hotel operators in Bali who have these lazy bums lounging all over their establishments with their smelly, sweaty feet on the furniture and laptop on their laps.
When you read enough of these blogs you start to believe in the lie. It’s tempting as hell though. Pay low taxes. Escape your country. Hire migrants to work for peanuts.
Solution: curate your content diet carefully. Focus on real instead of fake.
Problem #3 — Not asking for help
When you’re disorganized you’re afraid to ask for help.
Basically, you’re a control freak. You think you have to do everything because no one could dare be as competent as you.
I’m unlearning this toxic mindset. Outsourcing tasks isn’t perfect. There will be mistakes. But at least it’s scalable and means you won’t have to work like a dog the way I am.
Ask for help. Tell your significant other. Get feedback on how you work.
Solution: consider getting a virtual assistant. The best ones live in the same country as you and get paid fairly.
(Read the 6 Levels of Delegation to know what type of VA you need)
The bizarre reason we’re busy that you probably haven’t thought of
The headline of this story comes from Vaibhav Sisinty.
A comment on his post got me thinking: “Most of us are not very busy, we are just introverts — we pretend to be busy.”
I feel like this a lot. Sometimes I want to be left alone because my introvertedness has taken over and I need a break from other people. I unconsciously use busyness to cover up my desire to be alone.
Maybe that’s why you’re busy too. You just want to be a hermit crab for a while and not have to speak.
We tell ourselves we’re busy.
Often there’s another reason. In my case, it’s a combination of a new startup and a baby girl on the way. Then being unorganized makes the whole reality ten times worse. So what I’m doing is getting organized.
I will get a VA to do some of my work. I will buy software to save me time. I will automate processes with Zapier.
My life goal is to work less when my daughter is born. Wish me luck.
Get organized to defeat busyness.