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.
He was in discussion with another super successful person, Bill Gates, and one of the subjects they touched on was productivity.
Buffett's take was that "busy is the new stupid."
I was reflecting on this, and it occurred to me that the question “are you busy?” is often the way people greet each other these days.
How do you reply if someone asks you this?
We like others to think we are busy, and we may feel guilty if we're not.
We think not being busy is bad, because we equate 'busy-ness' with being successful.
When people ask me if I am busy I often reply: “No, not particularly.”
It's as if I just told them I had suffered a family bereavement!
But surely if two of the most productive and successful people in the world agree that "busy is the new stupid", we should consider why this is the case?
Busy vs productive
Busy does not necessarily mean productive. It doesn't mean you are ‘living the dream.’.
Often, quite the opposite.
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. This results in an artificial sense of constant crisis.
The main point is this.
As I've mentioned before in previous articles, I'm a participant in a programme with Steve Chandler, one of the world’s most successful coaches.
What does Steve teach you to do?
One of the key things is to slow down.
But he also knows that slowing down is not about managing your diary better or trying to do less.
Slowing down means thinking less. As your mind gets quieter, the natural by-product is you stop being so busy and yet become more productive.
It seems counter-intuitive, which is why so many people struggle with it.
Author and speaker Jamie Smart says: “If being hard on yourself was going to work, it would have worked by now.”
Jamie’s book ‘Clarity’ is a bestseller and I recommend it.
He 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.
I remember a survey that Disney carried out looking at what little kids were most interested in when visiting their theme parks.
The answer may surprise you.
As it turns out, they were most interested in their parents' phones.
Why? Because the parents are more interested in their phones than they are in their own kids. Children know the phones take 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 heads, life passes us by. It's only then that we stop to reflect and ask: “Where did all that time go?”
Busy-ness is a hypnotic state of losing sight of what matters in your life. It drowns out your innate wisdom, and disconnects you from your spirit.