Does entertainment ever feel like work to you? It does to me. I mean I have friends and families that I want to keep in contact with, I now have a blog to keep updated, a few YouTube channels I want to watch, around a gazillion games I want to play and don’t even get me started on my “To read” tower of books. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all of these things. They can, however, become pretty overwhelming and not a little unlike work to get through it all. With that premise, I picked up the subject of today’s post: “Busy” by Tony Crabbe.
By looking at this very website you might be able to guess that I like minimalistic designs. That’s because they draw attention to the parts that are important. Any psychologist or graphic designer worth their salt will tell you that attention is a very limited resource. If you want me to be interested in something you have about three-tenths of a second to convince me. (okay, maybe four-tenths if I like you.) Minimalistic designs help with that. The big red letters immediately let you in on the action with this one. I must also say that I find the font is easy on the eyes. This, I really appreciate as a dyslectic. I also have to admit I have never empathised with a pencil this much, I think it’s a really nice touch.
The inside of the book also gets my thumbs up. The font is comfortable enough for me to read, which is a big thing for me. The margins are also good. That’s to say, small enough to not be wasteful but big enough to never make me think “Where the !$%&# am I supposed to hold this thing” when I get to the bottom of the page.
Like the human soul
The book consists of three sections with four chapters each plus a preface. The preface includes a section called “Too busy to read this book?”, which I think shows good knowledge of the demographics. This short chapter includes some quick fixes to clear up small amounts of time. Beyond that, the book reads not unlike a very long blog post. It has relatively short paragraphs with titles and subtitles, breakdowns and, my personal favourite, a short recap in the form of a “Big messages in ” and a “Go do” section at the end of every chapter.
In the first section, called mastery, Crabbe analyses business and gives you some tools to try and overcome it. Personally, I found this section to be the best of the book. This section provided me with the newest insights. Lots of things I already knew, but Crabbe really solidifies them. Like the fact that it’s not your time you should be managing but your energy. One of the most profound changes the book has made to my life is the realisation that some ways of taking brakes are inferior to other ones. I realised that the key to being able to keep working consistently is taking effective breaks, and my work has been better for it ever since. Crabbe never really dives into the whys (though he does provide sources to his strategies), but covers the hows very well.
In the second section, called differentiation, he analyses how business can seep into your career. Here he goes into the ways that the business landscape has changed and how you should navigate it more effectively. Personally, I didn’t find this part of the book too attractive. That is mainly due to the fact that I’ve read other books that focus exclusively on this subject, so Crabbe didn’t really have anything new to tell me. If you haven’t though, he still makes some good cases here. Just like the rest of the book it is very practically minded in helping you overcome the drudgery, so I’d still recommend it if you haven’t already read a lot about this subject.
Finally in the final section, called Engagement, he talks about how we are overwhelmed in our personal lives. Here too, he argues that less is more and that true joy comes from a deeper engagement with those who are close to us. This chapter has the same problems for me as the previous. I enjoyed reading it, but I’m already familiar with most of the things Crabbe mentions here, even though I approve all the things he had to say here.
Cut the crap
The big message Crabbe has is quite simple: Business is a rigged game, and the only way to win is to not play. According to Crabbe business is a way of avoiding doing the important work. It’s the easy thing to do because being busy doesn’t require any planning or decision making. Which is true. Trying to get to inbox zero doesn’t really help you on that big project that you’re supposed to be working on. It is, however, something to make you feel like you’re doing something. Doing the important work first is hard, but also much more rewarding.
The book isn’t revolutionary by any means, but it is very well executed. Even if you have already read a lot on these subjects I still encourage you to try this book. Even if you only pick up a few small tips, they are tips that can have a profound impact on your life. Fighting business is a constant battle, but I have experienced that if you decided to do it, it can really improve your life. Like Crabbe sais in his preface
Busy, for me is a constant lure, a constant challenge […] I suspect that for as long as I work, I will battle with busyness. […] Beating busyness isn’t easy but it’s a fight worth having