text“Busyness” is not the path to success.

I’m running so fast I don’t have time to think. I use my drive time to return calls and respond to emails. (Isn’t technology a great time saver?) I might as well be at the office when I fly, because I immediately log into the Wi-Fi. If I don’t work on the plane, I won’t be able to catch up when we land. I only sleep five or six hours a night. I’m so stressed that I can’t relax and enjoy time with my kids.

If you know me, you know I’m not writing about myself. This is definitely not Joanne. But these are real people. I’ve met them and heard their stories, and I think it’s sad. They’re so busy that they’re burning out, getting sick, and losing out on life. These people also lose out at work. Instead of increasing sales effectiveness, they’re missing buyer cues, dropping balls, and losing deals.

They’ve got FOMO—the Fear of Missing Out virus.

Why Are You Doing This to Yourself?

Unfortunately, FOMO is extremely contagious and has infected a large percentage of the professional population.

Greg McKeown’s riveting HBR post—“Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy”—explores the busyness epidemic. He writes:

We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it. Just today, someone boasted to me that she was so busy she’s averaged four hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks. She wasn’t complaining; she was proud of the fact. She is not alone.

Why are typically rational people so irrational in their behavior? The answer, I believe, is that we’re in the midst of a bubble … “The More Bubble.” (Read the rest of the article.)

What Are You Trying to Prove?

Here’s the problem: We’re trying to catch up, catch up, and catch up some more. But the faster we run, the further behind we get. By trying to miss nothing, we actually miss the important things. When we’re so busy being busy, we miss out on the present.

[Tweet “When we’re so busy being busy, we miss out on the present.”]

And why, exactly, are we running ourselves (and our sales careers) into the ground? McKeown has a theory about that:

This [“More Bubble”] is being enabled by an unholy alliance between three powerful trends: smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload. We are more aware than at any time in history of what everyone else is doing and, therefore, what we “should” be doing. In the process, we have been sold a bill of goods: that success means being supermen and superwomen who can get it all done. Of course, we back-door-brag about being busy: it’s code for being successful and important. (Read the rest of the article.)

Newsflash: The key to success in sales is definitely not being busy. It’s focusing your time on sales activities that matter—building relationships, asking for referrals, and delivering value to your current clients so they keep sending you business and singing your praises. And you can’t do any of that unless you can slow down and focus on the clients and contacts who matter.

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How do you keep “busyness” from ruining your business?