“Are you busy?”

Did you have to go to jail,
Put your house up for sale, did you get a good lawyer?
I hope you didn’t catch a tan,
I hope you’ll find the right man who’ll fix it for ya
And are you shopping anywhere,
Changed the color of your hair, are you busy?
And did you have to pay that fine
You were dodging all the time, are you still dizzy?

Dave McCabe of The Zutons, who wrote Valerie (later covered by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse), asked a question in the second verse that I hear regularly, being asked of me and others.

“Are You Busy?”

The question is often asked in relation to work, and it seems that people want to hear ‘yes’ as the answer – it means you have plenty of work and things are going OK. “Flat out” is an answer you hear regularly in this part of the world.

Busy can be good, as long as you’re not the busy fool. Someone who spends too much time fighting fires and hence can’t do any meaningful work. Someone who spends too much time doing and not enough time thinking. Someone who spends too much time on the urgent and not enough time on the important.

Finding the correct balance is always a challenge. The balance between strategic thinking and efficient completion of actions, between time spent doing and time spent creating.

And it’s worth checking where you are as regards this question every so often. So after you answer the question posed by Dave McCabe, maybe you can answer a second one.

Busy doing what?