Advice for Creatives No. 3 | Being busy implies being out of control

Being busy implies being out of control

Being busy implies being out of control.

This quote jumped out at me because we’re in a culture in which being ‘busy’ is worn as a badge of honor. Busy, to me, feels like a word loaded with obligation– that I’m juggling many commitments and demands on my time. Busy feels tiring. Busy is rushing from thing to thing with little room for pause, or reflection. One can be busy without knowing, at a deeper level, what the busy-ness is all for. But when I make space for the things that truly matter to me, I don’t describe my life as busy; instead, I describe my life as full.

And when it comes to accomplishing creative work, often the most productive days are those in which I spend 3-4 hours working intensely and deeply, and the rest of the day idling, or doing less demanding tasks. I’ve learned, over time, that it’s possible to be highly effective without being busy.

Original source: Derek Sivers on the Tim Ferriss Podcast

“The idea is… if you’re feeling anything less than HELL YEAH I would do that, oh-my-god-that would be AMAZING– if you’re feeling anything less than that, then just say no. Because most of us say yes to too much stuff, and then we let these little mediocre things fill our lives. And so the problem is: when that occasional oh-my-god-hell-yeah thing comes along, you don’t have enough time to give it the attention you should, because you’ve said yes to these other little half-assed kinda stuff. So once I started applying this, my life just opened up because I just said, no no no no no, to almost everything. But then when the occasional thing came up and I was like, you know what that, would be awesome, then suddenly, I had all the time in the world.

Every time people contact you, and every time people contact me they say, you know look, I know you must be incredibly busy. And I always think like… no. I’m not. Because I’m in control of my time! I’m on top of it! Busy to me seems to imply… like, out of control. Like oh my god I’m SO busy, I don’t have any time for this shit. To mean that sounds like someone who has no control of their life.”

–Derek Sivers to Tim Ferriss

Kening Zhu