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Busy is the New Stupid

  August 11, 2020

Busy is the New Stupid.

The two luxuries of the 21st century are space and time. Therefore, I was drawn to this clip of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates which is called “Busy is the New Stupid”.

Being busy is not a status symbol, yet some of us and some of our workplaces seem to believe it is. Why are we sacrificing personal development and health for the sake of professional advancement? Is it FOMO? Is it the expectation of 24/7 connectivity? Is it simply a habit? Whatever the reason it might be time to reframe how we value “Busy” and do things differently.

The Chairman and Managing Director of General Motors Holden, my boss, Bill Hamel was not a busy man. Even with his huge role, he always made time to think and have white space in his schedule. He was an expert at MBWA, listening to stakeholders, and then spending time in his office simply thinking. My father was similar in his senior roles. Perhaps as we reframe “Busy” we need to look at our elders – from a time before 24/7 communication – and shift our mindset from “Busy as a status symbol” to “Busy is the New Stupid”. If Bill Gates – a creator of 24/7 communication – is willing to do this, then we can to. If Warren Buffett – one of the world’s richest men – knows we can’t buy time, then we must too.

Each July I escape the winters of the Victorian Central Highlands and head to Lombok, Indonesia. There my friends do yoga (I don’t, I do pliates) and my path crossed with Yin Yoga Guru Nik Robson from New Zealand. His message is:

“Slow down. Tune in. Let go. Wake up”

Following is an article I wrote in November 2003. Without knowing it, I was encouraging the use of a WorkStyle Week template to create the white space in our schedules that Warren Buffett, Bill Hamel, my father, and now Bill Gates are referring to.

WorkStyle Week

Many clients are familiar with the structure that a WorkStyle Week provides. This is a simple tool, but it is not an easy one to adopt. Many clients set up their WorkStyle Week, but then have trouble following it. Belinda describes how to set up a WorkStyle Week and addresses three obstacles that often get in the way of using your WorkStyle Week.

Start by filling in two separate WorkStyle Week templates – one for how your WorkStyle Week looks right now, and one for how you would ideally like it to look. I recommend you use three different colours:

  • Pink – for self-care, relaxing, rejuvenating, recreating, ‘me’ time, (white space)
  • Green – for all the activities you have to do, such as sleep, shop, eat, exercise, children’s activities, walking the dog and so on
  • Blue – for work related activities

If you are like many of us, there will be little Pink and much Green and Blue in your current WorkStyle Week. I do hope you have plenty of Pink in your ideal WorkStyle Week – if not, add more! The idea is to move from your current to your ideal WorkStyle Week. For some of us it may be a little shift/calibration here and there, for others of us it may be a huge leap, or a long-term plan to get us where we want to be. The idea is to have the intention and desire to move to your ideal WS Week.

To help you do this, I want to point out the three main obstacles to actually following your WorkStyle Week:

  1. Not setting yourself up for success – be sure to allocate enough time for each item and display your WS Week in a visual format so you can refer to it frequently.
  2. Not having the discipline to follow it – be sure to enrol your partner, your friend or invest in a coach to hold you accountable.
  3. Not allowing for flexibility – be sure you have plenty of white space to accommodate the unexpected (ie. if something unexpected comes up, it doesn’t throw out the schedule).

My coaching colleague, Phil Humbert, shared a good reminder of this when his wife, Mary had a car accident and Phil had to drop everything to be with her. Fortunately, Mary was OK (the car was written off) and Phil’s schedule included enough white space that with just a couple of phone calls he was able to reschedule what he had planned. In fact, Phil had so much white space during the week of the accident, he was able to shop for and purchase a new car with Mary AND handle the insurance claim.

Designing a WorkStyle Week is simple, following it can also be easy if you set yourself up for success, are disciplined and allow plenty of white space. The best plans can go astray. We can’t control our environment, but we can be flexible and control our response to the environment. If you would like a copy of our WorkStyle Week template, send an email to 



ICF Master Certified Coach

Belinda MacInnes is an ICF Master Certified Coach, who commenced her coaching career in 1999. She is well versed in the intricacies of the global workplace and enjoys coaching executives as they maneuver their way through the complexities of global leadership. Belinda also mentors and supervises newer coaches, and she is the author of the pcbs Revisited.

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