How To Go From Busy To Driven

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We have a problem.  With tech being what it is today, we think we should have a lot more free time.  Yet with tech being what it is today, we seemingly have a lot more to do.  If people are consuming between four and ten hours on hand held devices like iPads and smart phones, we don’t have as much time as we think we do (even though we never have to go to Target anymore thanks to Google Express).  So while we perceive that there is more time out there thanks to technology, in reality people are getting more and more busy.

Being busy is actually something new and something dangerous.  As a college student I recall having endless hours to sit and do nothing all day.  I’d schmooze with friends, maybe have a leisurely workout, go to Chipotle twice a day (gasp, I wasn’t always kosher or a size 32 waist) but in general, relax.  Granted I don’t think I got much done with those four years of my life (besides of course meeting my wife and my best friend) I never really felt busy.  Today, I’m a mess.  Yes I have a family and a job but that’s not what makes me busy.  It’s this incessant buzzing in my head to do more, read more, consume more of the tremendous amount of media and information that’s all around.

And its compounded because everyone else also seems busy and accomplished.  Why?  Because we are broadcasting our lives on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Of course we need content to upload on these fantastic sites so we make up all the cool things we do all day long.  We are busy showing everyone how busy we are!

Isn’t it good to be busy?  No! Being busy is the opposite of being focused.  Busyness implies being all over the place with a million things to do, while being focused means driving in a meaningful direction.  One who is driven isn’t busy, they are focused.  Granted both busy people and driven people don’t have time, but one is going somewhere while the other isn’t.

The more successful the person, the less busy they are.  One of the major game changing lessons in my life that I heard over and over again from successful people is that they are keenly aware of what they do well, and leave everything else to other people.  Being aware of your strengths, your goals, and your missions allows you to focus on what you want and block out all the noise.

Today, as I build my businesses, family, and myself, my greatest fear is being busy.  It’s truly amazing that as my responsibilities with my current position have dwindled as I prepared to leave, I found myself having less and less time.  I realized that as soon as I wasn’t busy with my job, there was so much I hadn’t focused on that needed time and development.

We work for meaning, but we also work for money.  While I had a great salary, I never learned about money.  What did I know about taxes?  Investments?  Real estate?  Stocks?  So while I was busy making money I was never working towards becoming wealthy.  I worked out a lot, but I never learned or focused on nutrition.  I gave speeches about family life and Judaism, but I spent less and less time focusing on those things themselves.

I read that salespeople only spend some 45 min a day in front of a prospect.  Why?  Because they’re so busy prepping their script, drinking coffee, etc.  They are busy, but they aren’t focused.  Their job is to get in front of clients.  The more client meetings, the better you get at learning to sell.  Focused is having a clear goal, getting whatever tools you need to get there, going for it, and cutting out the noise of everything else.

So often I hear people talk about all the big things they want in their life; meaning, great relationships, great health, financial success.  But they’re usually too busy to actually start building whatever they want.  Because busyness is a disease; it dulls our desire to push forward with our goals.

And on top of it, being busy makes you burned out and tired.  But if you’re a busy person, you can’t even relax! Whereas if you’re focused or driven, you recognize relaxation is a necessary step to reaching your goals.  I lost more weight when I stopped lifting weights and had a strict diet.  I got better in the gym (once I got back in it) when I took more rest days.

It’s very scary not to be busy because being busy makes us think we’re being productive.  BUT if you can stop being busy for a few minutes, you can start to be focused.  STOP DOING ANYTHING.  IMAGINE YOU’RE IN JAIL OR DEAD.  NOTHING HAS TO HAPPEN.  Now think; what do I want in my life?  What do I need to know to get there?  How can I get that information?  What steps do I do next?  What do I not have time for?  Considering these scary questions makes us confront that part of us that screams that we need to accomplish.  But the beauty of it is that if we do asks these questions, and stop being so busy, we might actually start moving in the right direction.

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Make Time to Pay Yourself Forward: How to get done what you need to do so you can do what you want

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It’s been a while since I’ve let my mind slow down enough to allow me to write.  My video blog (watch me daily on Facebook) has been a lot of fun, and is my medium of choice because my (self-diagnosed) ADD mind wanders too quickly to be put down on paper or the technological equivalent.  But having a moment to stop and think makes me recognize the crucial importance of time, and how necessary it is to master it in order to get what we need done.

The famous financial book The Richest Man In Babylon first recorded the fundamental principle of accumulating wealth: pay yourself first.  Before you pay the bills, figure out how much you’re going to put aside, and put it aside before anything else.  Inevitably, money not specifically earmarked for something will go down the booze, coffee, or unnecessary expenses drain before it finds its way into your savings or hopefully investment account.

The same must be true for time.  You need to pay yourself first with your time.  What that means is that you have to write out the necessary tasks you’d like to accomplish that day and how much time they will take, and WHEN YOU WANT TO DO THEM.  If you master that skill, you will be amazed with how much you can do.

As the world becomes more complicated, and more things vie for your time through the endless sea of information presented via social media, time not allocated to do what you want to do simply won’t happen.  Everything else in the world will take your time leaving you with the gnawing sense of feeling busy but getting nothing valuable accomplished.

What is valuable to be accomplished?  Could be your school work, homework, or anything else.  But what is EXTREMELY valuable but oftentimes left off the “to do” list are the things that will make you better long terms.  The investment in self.  These things include going to the gym, spending quality time with the people you love, and investing in your education.

Everyone goes to school, but few people get an education.  Read books.  Lots of books.  Listen to podcasts or watch informational videos on YouTube.  THERE IS SO MUCH OUT  THERE.  Invest some time in yourself, in making you better and more marketable.  Guaranteed if you don’t put that time in your calendar as if it were an unbreakable appointment, it won’t happen.  And if it doesn’t happen, you walk the road of mediocrity, working for the people that made time to grow themselves.