Culture of Busy


Lately everyone seems to like to complain how busy they are every day. College students, children, adults, everyone echos the same complaints. “I’m so busy!” “I can’t possibly add one more thing!”

This blog post by Scott Berkun clearly points out that this culture of busy is ingrained, “That simply by always seeming to have something to do, we all assume you must be important or successful.”

He continues, “people who are always busy are time poor. They have a time shortage.” If you are always too busy, review your commitments. Is there something you’re doing because you’re supposed to, not because you want to? Are you missing out on happenstance opportunities because you aren’t letting life just happen? Are you busy because you’re uncomfortable with sitting still? How many great opportunities have you missed because you’re just too busy? Do your commitments make you happy?

While you’re pondering those questions, think about what being busy really means. This article from Relevant Magazine takes the cult of busy one step further calling it pride.

“People who have not seen each other in a few days or weeks start to catch up, and the talk quickly turns toward comparing notes on how terribly busy we all are,” the author states.

Free time should not be guilt or angst ridden. Free time should be freeing, relaxing, rejuvenating.

A very smart co-worker of mine suggested saying no to just one thing. Just one. If you need a phrase to help you get started, try, “thank you for thinking of me, but I must decline at this time.” See what happens next. Spend an hour (off the clock of course!) doing nothing. When you get antsy after five minutes, sit through it. When you mind screams you should be doing something, ignore it.

What would you do with an extra hour?

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As you well know, Time is Money

Photo from: Internet Duct Tape
How do you determine what your time is worth? How about your expertise? Knowledge? Advice? We all give our advice and suggestions to friends and family for free. Is there a right time to stop this practice (maybe not for your family, but friends and friends of friends)?

Kate Ottavio has not one, but two great posts on the topic at PR Breakfast Club: Give it away… For Free! and Bring on the money! Working for free… (both excellent reads).

She makes an excellent point that “one will be asking us for our advice when we‘re out of a job or have closed shop.” Which is true.

I think there comes a time in every professional’s life where they want to make money and when your time becomes even more valuable.

If you aren’t comfortable quoting your friend your hourly rate, see if there is something you can barter for. Maybe your friend is an excellent web page designer and you are a great copy editor. Offer to edit his next term paper in exchange for helping you with your website. There is always something.

I know I’ve said it before, but don’t sell yourself short either. Make your projects worth your time and don’t be afraid to say no when the project isn’t worth your time. Obviously, try to leave the door open in case that changes, but don’t just accept a project to accept it or because you think there isn’t anything better out there. There will be.

Dollars and Cents

Money. Just think about it for a moment. It’s practically a basic necessity. The thought of it can stir an abundance of emotions or even start an argument.

Now, think about what you’re worth monetarily. Your time. Your expertise. Your knowledge. You. Can you put a price on that? For those of us who freelance, moonlight, help friends, etc. the answer is yes, I have to put a dollar amount on myself and time every day.

Everyone is looking for a magic number. Ask for too much you risk offending and scaring away the potential client. Ask for too little and you’re selling yourself and your skills short. A quick Google search reveals tons of formulas you can use to calculate what you should charge. The truth is there is no magic number. What is right for you might not easily fit into a formula. How do you choose? Is it really just a trial and error? I and lots of other smart people who have written about this think the answer is no.

Research your particular area. Your community. What are others charging? Individuals and agencies. Choose whether you are going to bill hourly or per project. However, don’t forget that if you choose by project you may spend more time than you originally thought you would. Decide what you’re going to offer and break it down. Don’t sell yourself short. You work hard and provide the best results you can. The bottom line is everyone has to earn money. To earn money takes time and your time is valuable!

Now for a full disclaimer, I’ve not listened to this advice and am kicking myself for it. The kicks, plus knowing that I will never be able to get my full worth from this client in the future (should there be a future) sucks. I’ve learned the hard way. I hope you don’t have to.