I’ve worked in corporate America long enough to know all the tricks of the trade. One of them being, if you look flustered and busy, then apparently you are staying productive. Unfortunately, the same trick doesn’t hold up in the real world.
How many times this week have you been asked, How are you doing? And without thinking replied, Busy.
Probably a few times, right?
Whether or not it’s true, we hold onto our defacto “Busy” response for two reasons:
- We want people to think we are productive members of our society/teams/communities
- We want ourselves to think we are productive members of our society/teams/communities
Somehow over the course of the past few decades, busy has become the new productive.
And it’s easy to trace where this phenomenon stems from–the ugly beast known as FOMO (fear of missing out).
Oh No FOMO
Creative people like me face FOMO constantly. If we aren’t on top of the latest and greatest blogging platform or not utilizing the newest graphic design app, then we are somehow falling behind.
Even in non-creative situations, people tend to experience some sense of FOMO.
If you don’t want to be the odd man out discussing football Monday morning, you end up watching all the games Sunday. If you don’t want to appear like a Scrooge, you end up putting Christmas lights out in October.
I understand these are extreme examples, but there is one common thing FOMO does to us all: it leads to unnecessary busyness.
Because as long as we stay busy and distract ourselves from our end goal, we trick ourselves into thinking we’re productive. When in reality, the opposite is happening.
Why I’ve Stopped Trying To Be So Busy
For the handful of people who closely follow me, they might have noticed a slight decrease in my creative output in recent weeks. Fewer posts on Medium, fewer snaps on Snapchat, a complete abandonment of Instagram.
As someone who was pumping out content week after week this summer, I’ve gone relatively quiet the past month or so.
I have a good reason why: I need to focus on my one BIG thing.
As you might have read last week, I’ve been quietly working on my next BIG project. I will announce it in a few weeks. However, I’ve limited my creative output to free up time and allow myself to focus on my project.
Up until this point, I was a mess.
- I tried writing a combination of two to three posts a week for my blog, Medium, and other blogs.
- I tried upping my Instagram game and Facebook game by posting more and being present on the platforms.
- I even almost launched a small side venture involving self-published paperback books.
But I put all this on the back burner to focus on my one BIG thing.
Is it hard to work without receiving instant validation from the Internet? You bet, but will my patience pay off? Absolutely.
I set huge goals for myself at the beginning of the year. I managed to hit some goals, but I’ve all but abandoned the ones that are left. Again the reason is simple, 100% focus on my one BIG thing.
If not, I’d spend my week doing 90 random other things to make me feel like I’m making progress. Instead, I slowly chip away at something bigger.
Patience Is Your Friend
When climbers attempt to summit Mount Everest, they sometimes spend days acclimating themselves to the high altitude.
Even though it appears like they aren’t making progress, their bodies are quietly building up enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to their bodies.
An important and necessary step.
That’s how I feel right now, like a climber holed away in his tent, building up his red blood cells, plotting his summit push.
But I know patience is my friend. As long as I can remain focused on being productive and not busy, I’ll reach my summit.
Discussion Question: Do you struggle with FOMO and if so, does it lead to unproductive business?