Beware the cult of busy.


Are you running around, crossing items off your ever-growing to-do list, feeling like a chicken with her head cut off, and wondering what the heck it’s all for? It’s a very common experience, most especially for freelancers (which all artists are).

The problem is we often confuse being busy with being effective. We think if we can just keep up the frantic pace, then everything will pay off in a big way. But it turns out that most of what we focus on is not the game changing work we hope it to be.

Being busy is about being reactive, tending to every day minutia rather than honing in on big vision stuff. Being busy is about chasing every opportunity – or perceived opportunity – without evaluating how it fits into your master plan.

For actors, this can look like:

- Mass mailing every single agent in town with your generic headshot and resume; rather than focusing on the top 5 agents who are right for your career right now, and building a relationship with consistent marketing directed to them personally

- Submitting to every Actors Access notice; rather than making 1 bold phone call to a big casting office for a job you’re perfect for

For writers, this can be:

- Handing out your business card to everyone at every networking event, hoping someone will call you; rather than getting the business cards of people you want to work with and starting an email campaign to stay in touch every few months

- Repeatedly deleting and rewriting the first act of your script; rather than finishing it and holding a table read to get some perspective on where it works and where it doesn’t

One of the reasons being busy is so attractive is because there is an immediate sense of gratification. Checking off your to-do list every day feels productive. Also, busy tasks don’t make us vulnerable. Getting a “no” from a casting director is harder than the non-answer of Actors Access. Having your script read aloud and hearing where it falls flat can be painful. But without taking these risks, how will you truly grow?

I invite you to step off the hamster wheel for a weekend getaway with me in the Hudson Valley this June. I’ve organized a vision-clarifying, gremlin-crushing, goal-setting retreat in nature, where we will stop the busy-making and reevaluate what you are doing and why. Check out the full details here:

Bonus for Red Wall Productions family: Get $100 off the registration fee if you can tell me what TV show Roz guest-starred on with Edie Falco.

Sam Garland is a Creative Career Coach who helps actors, writers, and filmmakers take charge of their journeys and uplevel their careers in powerful ways.  You can get more tools, tips, and inspiration at