“The essential question is not, ‘How busy are you?’ but ‘What are you busy at?’” – Oprah Winfrey

Positive Quote: “The essential question is not, ‘How busy are you?’ but ‘What are you busy at?’” – Oprah Winfrey


I vividly remember the day I realized that being busy did not mean I was successful, that I was not spending time on the ‘right’ things and that I was not managing my time wisely. I like to read, I like to read a lot, it is my way of decompressing.


Many years ago, back in 2009, I was reading a book by an author that was unknown to me, yet the title called out to me. It was ‘Fake Work’ by Brent Peterson and Galyan Nielson. I have since seen newer revised versions of the same book, yet the one I read in 2009 is the one I have kept. This quote reminds me of that book. A summary from the book preface is “Hard work is not the same as real work. Half of the work we do consumes valuable time without strengthening the short- or long-term survival of the organization. In a word, it’s fake. Not only does fake work drain a company’s resources without improving its bottom line, it steals conviction, care, and positive morale from employees, and adds the burden of high turnover, communication breakdowns, and cultural patterns of poor productivity.” About once a year I will pull it out and reference a chapter or a section and it helps me refocus on my job habits. It is also a good reminder, as a leader, that when I am working with my team to set goals and targets, that they have to point to an overall business objective. Otherwise, why are we doing it?


It is extremely easy to get caught up in the daily fires and the administrivia of work. Those things are important. Yet, it is more important to focus on the items you are responsible for that move your team, the organization, and yourself forward.


For myself, I set aside the first 3 hours of my day to plan my time and tackle the items that require my full attention, since early hours is when my mind is at peak. I am continually amazed at what I can accomplish in that short period of time. Then at the end of my day, I set aside an hour to wrap up, to figure out what I need to move to the next day, to later that evening, and when and how I should focus my future efforts. Now don’t get me wrong, fires pop up, there is the last minute request to pull together data, the team mate who is looking for help in an issue, or the customer (for me those are internal) who needs clarification. Not to mention the instant messages, phone calls, and emails that cannot be paused. It is a balance and some days my planning time is reduced to 5-10 minutes, if that…yet on the days I do get to spend the time, I can feel the difference in my mood, my organization, and in my delivery of items that are important in my role.


As you can tell, this quote has me thinking.


What do you think of this quote?



Have a tremendous Thursday.


Kind regards,



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