Tim Ferriss

Being Perpetually Busy Is a Kind of Laziness, Tim Ferriss Says

Being Perpetually Busy Is a Kind of Laziness, Tim Ferriss Says

Tim Ferriss

Image credit: Jerod Harris | WireImage | Getty Images

Being over-scheduled and over-committed is a part of the culture of entrepreneurship.

However, being perpetually busy is akin to being sloppy with your time and is ultimately a form of laziness, says Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and author of the best-selling productivity book The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

"The default mode of type-A entrepreneurs is to do more -- whatever it happens to be, do more," Ferriss tells CNBC. "If I have a problem, do more. If I am feeling stressed out, do more."

And while it might seem logical to increase output, "indiscriminate activity is a form of laziness," he says.

On a superficial level, being busy is a satisfying substitute for doing important work. "It's very easy to confuse activity with productivity," says Ferriss. 

Often, however, feeling busy is the result of frenetically swimming in place against the tide. "It's not that you don't have time," he says. "We all have the same amount of time ... each day, whether you are President Obama or Richard Branson or you yourself. It's how you allocate that time that determines what your life looks like."

Instead of simply doing more, Ferriss recommends being strategic about how you spend your time.

"If you don't feel like you have time, you don't have priorities," he says.

Since 2007 when The 4-Hour Workweek came out and became an overnight sensation, Ferriss has written and published two other books, launched the podcast The Tim Ferriss Show, and starred in a television show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment.

Ferriss says he tries never to respond that he is "busy" when a friend or colleague asks him casually how he is doing.

"We are all tempted to use it because it is such a common, throw-away response, but I make special efforts not to respond with 'busy,'" he says. "If I feel busy, then I should take a very close look at what I am doing and ensure that the activities and the tasks I am assigning myself are those that are getting me the yield that I want, the goals that I want."

Pushing back against a culture of busy-ness worship isn't easy, though. Being busy is often seen as a "perverse badge of honor," says Ferriss.

Even if you can't clear your calendar for the next month, he recommends checking in with yourself about what is making you feel so busy. Ask yourself: Is what you're doing really what you want to and should be doing?

Awareness of how you are spending your time is the first step to understanding and embracing the idea that how you spend your time is a direct reflection of the decisions you are actively making.

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Edition: October 2016

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