Are You Too Busy with Busy Work to Take Actions That Help Your Career?

The Accident, The Reflection

In December just before Christmas I broke my ankle badly, in three places. I ended up staying at my Mom’s in Cincinnati for 3 months — no better care than at Mom’s — especially since she’s a nurse. Just to be clear, my ankles did not look like those in the photo above–but it is a picture of ankles!

While sitting (a lot) during that three months and allowing my ankle to heal, I had time to really think about what’s next… my future… and my past.

In my three months of being mostly stationary, one of the big things I realized as I reflected on what I had been doing with my time prior to that momentous occasion of stepping down off the Flyaway bus, breaking my ankle, and falling to the ground… was that a lot of what I had been doing was:

busy work.

So much of the time in my work, I did tasks that had some value and made things a little better, but most of the tasks weren’t things that would move the needle.

I mean, did I really need to spend an hour trying to find just the right colors and combos of overlay and transparency for the images I was going to post online?

Sure, the image DID look great in the end and branding is important, but the slight variation in those colors was not something that would grow my business and help my clients.

How I Run My Business Now

Once I really came to terms with how much time I spent on busy work instead of work that matters, I made a big change in how I run my business and what I do.

I now run my business from a very specific set of guiding principles, objectives, and goals to make sure I’m doing things that move me toward my vision.

It’s a specific process that’s too long to get into here, but the point is that doing BUSY work can FEEL like you’re working toward your goal but in reality be totally insufficient for moving you forward.

Are You Doing a Lot of Busy Work?

I couldn’t help but wonder, as an actor or a screenwriter or another type of creative or entrepreneur, is it possible you’re also doing a lot and “keeping busy” toward your goals and vision but not doing the things that would really move the needle?

For instance, acting class is great — and you have to develop your talent — but if you’re in 5 or 6 hours of class a week and spending hundreds of dollars per month “getting ready,” how does that compare to how much time and cash you’re spending on promoting yourself to actually get paid acting gigs?  Training is great, but I’ve seen plenty of actors love class so much that they hardly try to pursue professional work. It’s just about being honest with yourself.

If you’re a screenwriter, are you developing pitches for your slate of projects and reaching out to people to pitch your completed screenplay to?  Are you trying to contact people who might be able to do something with your screenplay?

Whatever your career vision is, at some point, you need to honestly identify the steps that will put you on a path to achieve your goals and fulfill your vision.

With this crazy Hollywood business, sometimes as an actor or screenwriter you feel like you’re not even sure what to do for the business side of your career since it’s not a straight-line kind of thing, let’s say like Amway or being a CPA is.

Actions That Are In Your Control and What the Serious Players Do

But there are actions that you CAN take and are in your control.

Are you doing them?

If you’re a screenwriter, you know you need to write your screenplay, rewrite it, get it analyzed, and make sure it’s great!

Are you an actor?  Then you know you have to be able to audition well.

Developing a coaching practice? You know you have to have a business model of what you offer to your clients.

But no matter which of these careers we’re talking about, if you want to be successful, you also have to consistently take the actions that will get you your next gigs or clients.

What actions can you take for getting real work?

Every night in Hollywood, the serious “players” are going out to dinner or drinks with other players and people who are moving up.  

Lots of people go to film festivals to meet other filmmakers and serious players.

I could name 20 or 30 things related to the business that you could do….

But I also know that you may very well be one of the countless people who CANNOT BEAR to think about another networking event!

One of the reasons I created Smart Girls Productions is to provide marketing services to help actors and writers do their marketing–because I saw that so many of them hate doing it all by themselves.

I recently started this site, the Hollywood Business School, to help educate and train actors and screenwriters on the business of Hollywood in a way that is authentic for them, including how to network authentically and painlessly, how to follow up with industry people, and lots more.

But my point for this article is:

You must do things that matter and make the difference for your career if you are truly serious about working as an actor or screenwriter… if you want to book gigs, sell your script get writing assignments, or get more clients.

When I thought about all the tedium I had kept myself busy with — literally for years — I felt bad about it. I thought about the enormous amount of time I had wasted.

I thought of David Cassidy’s last words before he died … reportedly: “All that wasted time,” which I think was in reference to his alcoholism.  That moved me when I first heard it.  After this realization about all the tedium I had been doing, I had a new context for what he had said.

I quickly gave up feeling bad about it and decided to look forward.  Feeling bad about my busy work in the past serves no purpose. I accept that I did whatever I did before. I changed my viewpoint to look forward and how I want to be.

Now I see new actions to take, and I’m excited to take them. I see a light at the end of the tunnel that I am working toward.

The Three-Legged Mouse… and Turtle

Before getting the wake-up call of a broken ankle totally out of the blue, I was moving like a 3-legged turtle toward my goals, and now I can’t do it any more.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like turtles, and I’m more the tortoise (steady) than the hare — but a three-legged turtle?  That’s too slow.

Years ago, I found a three-legged mouse by my outdoor garbage can. I felt so bad for him. He was having trouble guiding himself with only three legs, but he was pushing and managing to move. I thought about killing him to put him out of his misery because I couldn’t see anything but a horrible death for him.  But I decided instead to let nature take it’s course and let the little three-legged mouse enjoy his life for as long as he could — before the neighborhood cat got the easy prey.

That three-legged mouse would move very slowly and it would take a long time to get where he wanted to go, but he would make the best of the rest of his life. That’s fantastic to keep going when you’re down even if you’re super slow and it’s very hard. I admire that.

But you and I are not three-legged turtles or mice.  We don’t have that excuse.

We CAN do so much more.

We don’t have to…. but I know I want to do more and live more of my potential!

If you’re not where you want to be, you need to do more than you have been doing!

If you are truly, authentically serious about working professionally…. it’s time to STEP UP YOUR GAME!

It’s time to focus on taking the actions that move the needle forward toward your goals.

What could you do?

You could sit down and make a plan on your own or with someone else.

You could have me work with you in a variety of ways.

We could work together to create a custom plan for you by setting up a career coaching plan.

If you’re an actor, we can work together on:

If you’re a screenwriter, I can work with you to:

No matter what your goal is, there’s always more networking, following up, and pitching to be done.

If you choose to… you can think of this as a wake-up call.

This won’t apply to everyone who reads this….

But if you’ve been wanting to shake yourself awake to play bigger, consider this your alarm clock to wake up!

Telling you it’s time to take the next action that matters for your career and your goals. Something that truly moves you forward toward fulfilling your vision. You don’t just need another happy class that challenges you and develops you personally if you’re already well-trained.

It’s time to step out beyond the busy work and do something that you haven’t done.

Of course it doesn’t have to be with me, but do something.

Don’t wait till you break an ankle!

Above I gave you a list of possible actions to take that can help you move forward, so there’s no excuse saying you can’t think of what to do.

If none of those things sound right for you, think of something else.

If you would like to discuss what a next good step might be for you, give me a call and let’s chat.

The time to ACT is now!  Here. Right now.

You can reach me at 818/907-6511 or by emailing me at

Let’s do this thing!  And make this year FABULOUS!  And FAST!

Also, tell me what you think about these ideas.  Email me or post comments below.

Let’s get your engine revving to its full potential!


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  1. I hate when life sends someone a curve ball. I’ve had those days. Thank goodness for your Mom that made it as painless as possible. So happy to hear you’ve recovered. Kudos to your Mom. We’re always there for our babies. You go girl! xoxo