Are You Working, or Are You Just Busy..?
One of my latest blog posts to create a fire storm in the Baltimore Tech scene was a one on a personal questioning about whether I thought our local tech scene was on the precipice of collapse. There was much more to this question then I fully outlined because frankly I thought it was a bit of a throw away piece. I figured I’d post it, get a couple of comments, and then it would quickly fall below the crease. To my surprise it garnered 30 comments and solidified many peoples feeling towards me in the community (and was reprinted in a local online magazine: CityBizList.com) . I seem to be making a habit of being a polarizing force by simply communicating what I think I see…
The BIG event that happened for me was that EverymanIT.com suddenly went from being a curious idea with potential, to being a full fledged business in February. It’s not supplanting a full time salary I could make as a consultant yet, but it’s well on the way. Now I finally have what I consider to be the most important thing in business…. NUMBERS. Now that I have real numbers that I can analyze , I can create realistic metrics and projections. It’s not at the point of being a full fledged algorithm, but the numbers now take EverymanIT.com out of the land of cotton candy and fairy dust.
With numbers I can now not only project whether the business is heading, but I can also analyze what actions I am doing that add to the bottom line, and which ones do not. Too many people have the “employee” mentality that simply showing up to the job equates to work. In business “work” is what brings in cash, EVERYTHING else is just keeping busy.
As I look at the numbers the main thing that jumps out at me is just how much I am currently “keeping busy” vs actually doing work. For me work is creating video classes, writing blog posts, sending anonymous love letters to Chris Pirillo (joke), posting to my social networks, etc. Everything else is just keeping busy.
So as you may know I’ve been doing a lot of “networking” and social events over the past year, and especially within the past 6 months. This from an outsiders perspective looks like a lot of work, and even my wife is impressed with the “work” I’ve been doing. Sadly though… at the end of the day the numbers I look at give a pretty bleak accounting of what the time spent is worth to the business… not much… The time spent on out reach and social interaction ends up taking time away from work, that earns cash, and gives to to “staying busy” which is not adding to the bottom line.
With this in mind I will be dramatically scaling back my interaction with the Baltimore Tech Scene. Not because I dislike anyone… Not because I think it’s stuck in a bureaucratic morass… and not because more then a few of my fellow geeks in the scene would like to see a computer virus physically jump out of my computer and eat me… I’m simply rebalancing my work load as compared to my staying busy load.
The question for you is whether you are “working”, or whether you are simply “staying busy”. For most people tweeting on twitter and staring at the walls of friends on Facebook are not the same as work. Research is only work up until you know how to do something that you can get clients to pay for. It is way too easy to keep “researching” a subject long after you have become more then competent enough to offer it as a service. Business Networking can be a GREAT thing, it can also be a colossal waste of time if it’s not bringing in real clients or creating connections you can do something with. It is far too easy to use up all your time in a day doing things that don’t bring in cash, and yet everyone that you know will pat you on the back and admire how diligently you are “working”.
Finding the balance between work and busyness can be a difficult thing. Sometimes busy work ends up leading to a pay check, and sometimes hard work ends up being a waste. The important thing is to simply analyze what you are doing and make sure your actions line up with how you plan to attain your goals.
You don’t need to give up on all the “busy” stuff. I’ll still go to many Tech Events to see my buddies (the ones that still like me), and get a feel for what everyone else is up to, but for me I’m simply cutting back because I don’t need: a cofounder, an employee, investors, or much advice… I’ll continue going to the events I go to because I find them “fun”, and will make sure to categorize them in my schedule as such.