095: Why Time Management Doesn’t Work: Interview with Alli Worthington [Podcast]

Have you ever had to kill a project you were thrilled about? Letting go of something is hard but sometimes necessary when you’re over-committed to too many things.

Busyness is the Enemy of Your Calling: Interview with Alli Worthington

One of my very first breakout speaking gigs was at Blissdom, a popular blogging conference accidentally founded by my friend Alli Worthington.

Yes, by accident. She winged it the first year and the rest is history. But after six roller-coaster years, while planning speakers and themes for next year’s event, Alli pulled the plug and BlissDom was finished practically overnight. The sudden death left her community surprised and disappointed.

Why quit such a successful endeavor in its prime? What was she thinking?

This week on The Portfolio Life, Alli and I talk about what prompted her seemingly rash decision to shut down her conference, and the 10-year journey she took to write a book on busyness. Listen in as we discuss the enemy of calling and why embracing the season you’re in is key to finding fulfillment in your work.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here).

Breaking bad habits

“Busy” has become the new “fine.” When friends ask how things are going we tend to say the word “busy” with our first breath.

This is something I struggle with.

On any given day, I may be running late to a meeting due to the call before that ran over the alotted time. Then I feel bad for being late and let the meeting go long, which makes me late getting home to help my wife. I walk through the door, frantically texting something to my team before it falls through the cracks.

Trying to keep track of everything is distracting, and some days I feel busy all day long. At home I’m thinking about all the work that needs to be done, and at the office I feel guilty for not being at home with my family.

One of the things I found most interesting about Alli’s story and her book, Breaking Busy, is the rejection of this idea of obligation. We all have things we have to do that we don’t want to. That’s part of being an adult. But there are far too many things we say “yes” to merely because don’t want to disappoint someone. We know we don’t have the time or energy to spare, but we say “yes” anyway and somehow try to make it work. All the while, our lives are getting more chaotic.

Breaking bad habits like unnecessary obligations helps us end the cycle of busyness and create margin in our life for what really matters. And as a writer, I’ve found that this is essential to any kind of creative success.

Show highlights

In this episode, Alli and I discuss:

  • How writing a book is like punching yourself in the face
  • The wrong reasons to write a book
  • Why it’s easy to act brave from behind a computer screen
  • Listening to the calling on your life even when people think you are crazy
  • How different aspects of your life work together to make up your portfolio
  • Dealing with skepticism and rejection from your tribe
  • A decision-making framework for minimizing busyness
  • How to do all the things without losing your mind
  • Living a full life without feeling frenetic

Quotes and takeaways

  • “Your calling looks different in each season of your life.” —Alli Worthington
  • “If time management was really the issue, we wouldn’t still have a problem.” —Alli Worthington
  • “Just say no to unnecessary crazy.” —Alli Worthington
  • Life is messy, but it doesn’t have to be hectic.
  • Stepping out into the unknown is intimidating.


What obligations do you need to say no to? How is busyness robbing you of your calling? Share in the comments