How Being “Busy” is Crippling Your Business

Nov 26, 2021 | Listen

How Being "Busy" is Crippling Your Business

It takes a lot of work to run a growing business. You and your team are sure to be caught up in the whirlwind of busyness, as you implement plans, achieve targets, secure sales, attract leads, create content, manage customers, and more.

It feels good at first to look at your business and see your team like a hive of busy bees, working diligently away – until the seemingly never-ending parade of work begins to get stressful, feel toxic, and disheartening.

Everyone feels pressed for time while struggling to complete (sometimes even to get started on) meaningful work that will provide value to the business. You might feel stuck, constantly running on a hamster wheel of busyness, with all the back-to-back meetings, little side tasks, and more, and you can’t get out.

If you and your employees are too busy to the point of near burnout, that’s a problem.

They might no longer contribute their skills and talents to grow your business. Drops in productivity can also set your company back thousands or millions in annual revenue.

So what can we as leaders do to help our team focus on and keep track of meaningful work and break away from being constantly “crazy busy”?

Today’s episode is a jam-packed 35 minutes of life-changing tips and insights on how to bust the busy and start having the business (and life) that’s really going to support you where you want to be.

Our guest, the Queen Bee of Anti-Busy, Julie Hyde, provides detailed and actionable steps you can take to prevent “busyness” from crippling your business because, ironically, you’re probably too busy to see it!

Timestamps for this week’s episode

  • 03:49 What does “being busy” really mean, and what is “bad” busy?

  • 7:05 Busyness is a mindset and also a habit – an addictive one

  • 10:27 How does busyness affect a growing business with a “Let’s be constantly busy” culture?

  • 16:56 How can you foster a culture of productivity over busyness?

  • 31:25 What are microbreaks and why are they important?

What does “being busy” really mean, and what is “bad” busy?

Busy means different things to different people. For some, being busy is a positive thing. For others, it’s negative or “bad.”

“Bad” Busy is when:

  • You’re just being completely reactive.
  • You’re stuck in the “doing.”
  • You’re caught in a vortex of constant busyness and constantly having to “do” with no end or value insight.

Evaluating busy in our lives may be more important than defining it:

  • What are we busy doing?
  • Is it in line with our priorities?
  • Is it in line with our health goals?
  • Is it in line with where we want to go?
  • Is it in line with what we want to achieve?
  • Is it in line with the person that we wish to be?
Busy is a mindset, and that busy is a habit. And it is an addictive habit that we have gotten into. It's like we just don't know what to do if we haven't got all of our time filled up. Busyness is bad for business

Busyness is a mindset and also a habit – an addictive one

We are always busy, and if it is all we do, we’ll end up getting stuck and not knowing anything else.

We are busy at work:

  • Running around
  • Back to back meetings with teams and clients
  • Getting absorbed in emails
  • Being available 24/7
  • Constantly wired and connected thanks to smartphones.

We are also really busy at home:

  • Handling house chores and errands
  • Managing kids sports and other activities, schools, parties

There are two reasons why being busy is so addictive. One, it makes us feel significant. Two, we also attach our success to busyness rather than attaching success to the outcome or what we have achieved.

“Busy-ness does not equal (being) productive.” – Julie Hyde

How does busyness affect a growing business with a “let’s be constantly busy” culture?

Many entrepreneurs, particularly startups and growing businesses, feel that you always need to be “ON” and have an ongoing epic project in the mix.

Sadly, this is the perfect example of not working smart, just working harder, and not being strategic. It can lead to burnout and is not sustainable.

Entrepreneurs need to follow the example set by athletes.

  • High-performance athletes sustain their performance by taking breaks from training to allow their bodies to rest and recover.
  • They also take this downtime to evaluate their performance and find opportunities to make incremental improvements.

A company with a busy culture is also not attractive to customers and employees old and new.

  • Clients who think you are too busy might not refer you to other potential customers, which will impact your revenues.
  • Employees might be busy working on many tasks, but it doesn’t mean they are being productive. They, too, are on a hamster wheel, which can lead to stress and employee disengagement. This will again negatively affect your growing business.
If you've got a busy (corporate) culture, that's not attractive. I don't want to just come into an organization and simply be busy. What's the purpose? What are the values? How am I contributing? How are we going to working together inclusive team? Busyness is bad for business

How can you foster a culture of productivity over busyness?

Apply this straightforward framework:

  • Understand what’s working
  • Understand what’s not
  • Identify what needs to change and how to implement them.

Step 1: STOP. Stop everything and take an inventory of what is and isn’t working, even if it seems counterintuitive. Evaluate and reflect on:

  • What are we doing right now?
  • What is working, and what is not?
  • Are our efforts contributing to the growth of our business and the culture you want to create?

Step 2: Revisit and understand your goals and priorities.

  • If you have a lot of priorities, choose the top three priorities that will provide that sense of achievement.

Step 3: Ensure that all activities you plan to do are in complete alignment to achieving your priorities.

Taking time out is a powerful tool that enables our brain to reflect and make sense of what’s going on. The brain can then create meaning and learnings, allowing you to make educated decisions in your business.

“Taking time out is the most powerful thing we can do in a busy time. It enables our brain to stop and think and reflect and make sense of what’s going on. It can then create meaning and learnings around what’s going on, enabling you to make some really educated decisions in your business.” – Julie Hyde

What are microbreaks?

Microbreaks are a really powerful tool you can use to give yourself the mental space to recharge.

  • Perfect for our wired & connected world
  • Needed badly now that we are constantly online

Simply take a break every 20 minutes away from the screen. For example:

  • Blink 20 times
  • Breathe deeply every 20 minutes
  • Take a brisk 20-minute walk

Microbreaks enable you to do much more meaningful work since it prevents fatigue which really kills productivity.

Your body's going to be trying to tell you when things aren't right - that it needs rest. Your brain, when you have than brain fog, it needs a timeout. It needs downtime. So you've got to give yourself the space, the silence to be able to tune in and understand what's going on with your body.


  • “Bad” Busy is when you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of being busy and just doing and not being particularly creative or effective in trying to achieve your business goals.
  • Busy is habit-forming and can be highly addicting, especially since it makes us feel significant and successful because we are so busy, despite the hard work we put into opening many more doors for our continued success.
  • Encourage your employees to be strategic, work smart, and not just work hard to prevent employee burnout and loss of client confidence in your company and services.
  • To cultivate a culture of non-busyness, first, take a breather and stop.
    • Take the downtime to evaluate and strive to understand what’s working and what’s not.
    • Identify your priorities, make the big decisions, and develop a game plan on what changes you need to implement to reach your goals.
  • Finally, don’t underestimate the power of micro-breaks that can provide the mental and physical space for you to rest and recharge to become a more effective contributor to the success of your growing business.


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About guest – Julie Hyde

Queen Bee of Anti-Busy, Leadership Guru, Author, Business Coach and Speaker

Julie is the Queen Bee of Anti-Busy and a leadership guru who believes that ‘busyness’ is code for burnout. With more than two decades of experience in business leadership and coaching, Julie enthralls audiences with her frank assessment of ‘busy’ and how it is crippling your business.

An author and highly sought-after speaker, Julie empowers audiences with practical, game-changing success strategies that challenge what you thought you knew about leadership.

Today, Julie is a leadership consultant and makes it her business to know her client’s business – inside out. She has consulted for blue chips such as NAB, Telstra, Bankwest, and Schiavello, and spoken at events for ANZIIF, AIM, BP, the Bank of Melbourne, and APAC Women in Leadership and Management.



Julie’s Book | Busy? Take Control, Get Relevant & Become An Influential Leader

Other resources mentioned in today’s episode:

James Clear | Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

About host – Kathy Svetina

Kathy Svetina is a Fractional CFO for growing small businesses with $10M+ in annual revenue.

Clients hire her when they’re unsure about what’s going on in their finances, are stressed out by making financial decisions, or need to structure their finances to keep up with their growth.

She solves their nagging money mysteries and builds a financial structure with a tailored financial strategy. That way they can grow in a financially healthy and sustainable way.

Kathy is based in Chicago, IL and works with clients all over the US.

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