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My favourite Warren Buffett quote

“Busy is the new stupid’ Warren Buffett

We love to be busy. Or we think we do. After all, you have to be busy to be successful, don’t you? All the rich and powerful, the successful in any field, are very busy, all the time.

But are they busy? Or are they productive? There is a big difference.

It’s a matter of where and how you devote your attention.

Can you slow down enough to devote your attention to your current task?

Or is your head buzzing with all the different things you need to do? Are you multitasking, or are you just distracted? Perhaps you need some mindfulness…

Are you busy, or are you productive?

Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time and one of the world’s wealthiest individuals. He also has some very astute observations about life.

One time he was in discussion with another super successful person, Bill Gates, and they touched upon the subject of productivity.

Buffett said, ‘Busy is the new stupid‘.

I was reflecting on this and it occurred to me how the question “Are you busy?” is often the way people greet each other these days.

How do you reply if someone asks you? ‘Are you busy?’

We like others to think we are busy and feel guilty if we are not busy. We think not being busy is bad, or lazy. Because we equate busyness with being successful.

When people ask me if I’m busy I often reply “No, not particularly”.

And it’s as if I just told them I’d suffered a family bereavement!

But surely if two of the most productive and successful people in the world concur that ‘Busy is the new stupid’ we should consider why?

Busy does not necessarily mean productive does it? It does not mean you are ‘living the dream’.

Often, quite the opposite (what are the 3 roles of an adviser?).

Where are you putting your attention?

Thought leader Linda Stone coined the term ‘Continuous Partial Attention‘ for a condition that seems endemic today.

She points out that rather than multi-tasking in an effective way, most people are driven by an underlying feeling of pressure or tension and this results in an artificial sense of constant crisis.

You might be busy every moment of your working day, but how is your output compared to the effort you put in? How productive are you?

The main point is…

As I have mentioned in other recent posts, I am a participant in a programme with Steve Chandler, one of the world’s most successful coaches.

What does Steve teach you to do?

Slow down

But he also knows that slowing down is not about managing your diary better or trying to do less.

Slowing down means think less and as your mind gets quieter the natural by-product of this is you stop being so busy AND yet become more productive.

Being able to focus more of your attention on the current task means you are likely more productive, getting more effective work done for the effort you put into it. It’s one of the main ideas behind the rising idea of mindfulness. Placing your focus on the present moment, the current situation or task, and then being conscious and aware of the thoughts and feelings that come, without allowing them to overwhelm you.

It seems counter-intuitive to slow down at work, which is why so many people struggle with it.

Jamie Smart said, “If being hard on yourself was going to work, it would have worked by now.”

Jamie is one of the most productive people I know of and he will tell you precisely the same thing as Steve Chandler.

Slow down. On the inside.

Jamie’s book ‘Clarity’ is a best seller and I recommend it.

Time to pay attention to your life

I seem to remember that Disney conducted a survey of what little kids were most interested in when visiting their theme parks.

The answer may surprise you.

Little kids were most interested in their parent’s phones. Why? Because the parents are more interested in their phones than they are in their own kids. The kids know the phones have what they want most of all – their parents’ attention.

I think this is why Buffet said, “Busy is the new stupid”.

When we spend so much time in our head’s life passes us by and then we reflect and ask, “Where did all that time go?”

Busyness is a hypnotic state of losing sight of what matters in your life. It drowns out your innate wisdom. It disconnects you from your spirit.

Time to just breathe…

So maybe it’s time to slow down a little, and learn to breathe in between the busyness of a working day.

If you want to avoid that persistent state of artificial crisis, then see if you can work  to be productive instead of busy.

When you focus on what matters most, you’ll quickly find that you can increase the quality of your work and get more out of the effort you put into each day.

P.S. Here is a short clip of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates talking about ‘Busy is the new Stupid’. Click here.


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