How Being Too Busy Can Be Bad Business

Standard thinking is that busy equates to success, but it can actually be detrimental to your company’s long-term prospects

How Being Too Busy Can Be Bad Business

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

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Having a busy business schedule is often seen as a badge of success. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research, workers who talk about how hard they work are communicating that they are valued members of a business.

But being overworked doesn’t necessarily equate to progress. It simply means that your schedule is full of activities. Those activities may not be contributing to your overall growth. About 46% of owners and workers report going through burnout, which can cost a business in the long run. Stressed owners or workers may produce subpar projects, fail to meet deadlines, or place the business under a threat of liability.

How exactly can being busy be such a bad thing for business when it’s the exact reason why profits roll in? Here are indicators that you’re working too hard and why it’s hurting your company:

Lowers the quality of your work

Taking too much work at the same time spreads you too thin. The typical effect would be spending less time per project, which can cause you to miss problems or inconsistencies that you would normally spot with enough time on your hands. With no break in between, the quality of your work can continue to decline, leading to missed deadlines, poor workmanship, errors, and dissatisfied customers. 

Creates poor customer relations

Being too busy causes you to miss out on all the small and subtle touches that make your customers feel special. Creating a distinction between your business and others requires an approach that your customers will appreciate and remember. This might include things like a thank-you note after a job is completed or one-on-one chats with clients. A busy schedule means you’ll just be jumping from one client to the next without really thinking about creating a memorable experience for them.

This can be destructive to your overall reputation. Remember that no matter what product or service you provide, there’s someone out there who is willing to offer the same thing. What sets you apart — and what makes you memorable to clients — are the small things that help forge a professional relationship.

Leads to poor health

A busy schedule can cause you to quickly lose sight of health goals. You’ll start eating for convenience instead of for nourishment. You might also miss out on your daily exercises or fail to get a full eight hours of sleep. Even with a team that takes care of your day-to-day operations, you remain the head of the business. Everyone reports to you and with poor health, you’ll have a hard time making sure that everyone is moving forward according to the long-term goals of the company. You need to constantly steer the business in the direction you want it to go and having poor health will make this incredibly difficult for you. 

Busy can lead to burnout

Burnout can be the kiss of death for many workers. This is described as extreme exhaustion resulting from prolonged exposure to stress, anxiety, and physical and emotional strain.

Recovering from burnout can be tough because the hardship is both in the body and mind. You always feel tired, have zero enthusiasm for your job, and are unable to fully perform your responsibilities. It can take approximately 11 weeks to recover from burnout, and without properly taking steps toward recovery, burnout can spiral toward depression. Imagine needing to take a break from work for 11 straight weeks just to recover from burnout. That’s 11 weeks of zero productivity. Within that period, your customers can find other companies or service providers. Demand doesn’t stop just because you’re not capable of providing the supply, and with prolonged zero operation, customers can quickly forget about the service you offer.

Busy makes you miss opportunities

Being too busy can cause you to miss out on opportunities that would otherwise help with the growth of your business. This could include pursuing new clients, extending your service capabilities, hiring better people, or training the ones you have to perform better with respect to their responsibilities.

While there might be many profitable jobs on the table, these jobs may be small-fry and not really give your business the opportunity to grow and start being a massive source of income. With a schedule that lets you take a breath every now and then, however, you are in the position to reassess your situation and find the best path to make the most out of your business.

Busy scrambles your priorities

A jam-packed schedule can quickly turn your priorities around. You might find yourself consistently adding something to your to-do list so that you’re always unsure of what deserves your attention most. You might find yourself reaching for a specific goal only to find out that you completely missed out on another one. You can also lose sight of the small things that actually contribute to a larger whole. For example, being too busy makes you overly reliant on third-party service providers like your accountant, your suppliers, etc. If this happens, you might have a hard time following up with vital information or fail to make sure that they’re doing their jobs. At the end of the day, this might have huge repercussions on the business. 

Busy can quickly decrease team morale

Don’t forget that you’re not the only person keeping the business alive. Your staff also contributes to making sure that you meet long-term company goals. However, pushing them to consistently work hard means they don’t have time for themselves. You’re vulnerable to stress and burnout and so are they. All of the negative things that could occur due to extreme stress can happen to them, too. They may lose enthusiasm for the job or fail to meet quality requirements. Worse, a poor working environment can develop tension among the team which can cause hostility among your people. That only adds to the negative emotions and can quickly cause your business to spiral as people refuse to work together. 

Solving the “busy” problem

How do you stop yourself from being too busy in business? There are ways to get this done, but the most important thing is to first recognize the symptoms of an excessively busy lifestyle. If you find yourself constantly tired with no time for sleep or personal rejuvenation, this is the time to step up and give your body the break it deserves.

Here are some tips:

●  Start by having a hard limit for your work hours. Your weekends or at least Sundays should be a time you dedicate to yourself. This should be a time for you to relax, unplug from work, and just lull your mind into a meditative state.

●  Start saying “no” to people. While welcoming any and all business through your door helps guarantee profits, it might not serve you well in the long run. Learn to decline certain projects and prioritize the ones that would give you better returns without pushing your body toward the brink of exhaustion.

●  Train and delegate. It helps to have people you trust to keep certain aspects of the business going while you take some of the pressure off your shoulders. You can have these people do weekly reports to make sure they’re still on track. While your input is still necessary, you’ll only have a supervisory role in the process which severely limits the amount of work you have to go through.

●  Encourage team-building exercises. Your staff can heavily influence the trajectory of the business. It’s important that they maintain good relations amongst themselves so all business operations move smoothly. You’ll find that a happy staff can go a long way toward creating a productive business.

●  Get help from tech tools. Modern life has paved the way toward creating an easier system for tracking, updating, and collecting information. You can download free software on your phone, tablet, or laptop to remind you of projects, automate certain aspects of the business, or maintain a database that everyone can access. By doing this, you’ll be in the position to focus on other things while decreasing the amount of work you have to do.

●  Focus on the things you want to accomplish instead of just having a to-do list. An accomplishment goal tends to focus on the bigger picture and helps keep you on track for meeting long-term objectives.

●  Dedicate a time specifically for reassessing your position in the business. This helps you recalculate goals and figure out if you’re still on the right trajectory.

There’s nothing wrong with being busy but you have to know exactly which things deserve your full attention. If you view everything as important and deserving of your time, then you’ll never have time to rest and relax. Remember that your business depends heavily on your input and if you’re not at your best, then everything else can quickly spiral downward.

About the authors: Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the authors of Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love and the owners of Spark Marketer, a "no bull" digital marketing company that’s been getting sh*t done for home service businesses across the nation for a decade. They’re trusted thought leaders in the industries they serve, which is why you’ll find them regularly speaking at service industry trade shows and conferences and writing for trade magazines. Tired of empty promises and ready for focused digital marketing and balls-to-the-wall dedication that gets your business seen? Visit


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