“We prefer to be seen doing something rather than nothing, but our bias for busyness keeps us from learning.”
I stole the above subject line and phrase from another excellent WSJ article that you can find here. (as always, we are happy to send key excerpts)
GOALIES MISSING PENALTY KICKS
The article sites a famous university study in which 300 soccer penalty kicks in a professional competition were examined.
The study found that the goalies jumped to the left 49.3% of the time, jumped to the right 44.4% of the time, and stayed in the center 6.3% of the time.
The kicks, however, went to the left 32% of the time, to the right 29% of the time, and to the center 39% of the time.
Hence, goalies are much more likely to stop a kick if they just stay put.
Goalies don’t stay put, despite knowing this, b/c they have an “action bias” – like everyone else.
They would rather be seen doing something rather than nothing, even when doing nothing is the best strategy.
The article goes on to point out how destructive our busyness bias is b/c it hampers learning so much.
This is b/c learning requires recharging and reflection, and not constant action.
Managers and business owners often exacerbate the problem by rewarding action and longer hours.
This is misguided, according to the article, b/c longer hours usually don’t result in more productivity.
DOING LESS TO DO MORE – MY OWN STORY
Years ago, JVM was having major problems and I was working seven days a week to solve them.
A business coach we hired to help fix our problems quickly realized that JVM’s problems were really a me-problem.
Before doing anything to “fix JVM,” he insisted that I fix myself first by working way less, and purposely setting aside downtime.
I started meditating, doing midday workouts, taking more breaks, and setting hard and fast cut-off times for work.
As a result, new ideas surfaced constantly, my work became far more productive and JVM ended up flourishing (with the help of a wonderful team, I should add, and largely b/c I got out of the way).
The tremendous benefit of working less is a major theme behind Dan Sullivan’s famous coaching as well, as he not only pushes entrepreneurs to put in fewer hours, he insists that they take hundreds of days off each year 100% free of anything work-related. Sullivan says this is the only way to recharge properly and to come up with the fresh ideas that are necessary to enable a business to thrive.
Anyway – if you want to be smarter and far more creative, and if you want to get a lot more done, do a lot less :)
Or at least set aside serious downtime, distractions and work-cutoff times, and don’t feel guilty when you do.
Jay Voorhees at (925) 855-4491
Real Estate Broker, CA Department of Real Estate, DRE# 01524255, NMLS# 335646