The make hay whilst the sun shines fallacy

Make hay whilst the sun shines

This is a phrase that we’ve heard a lot when the market is busy. We’re flat out but we need to make hay whilst the sun shines. If you make hay while the sun shines, it means that you are taking advantage of the chance to do something while conditions are good. In other words, you make good use of your time or make the most of an opportunity while you have the chance.

Hundreds of years ago, it would take many days for farmers to cut, dry and gather hay. Today, it’s much easier to make hay because of our modern machinery and weather forecasting. Since hay can be ruined easily if it gets too wet, medieval farmers had to take advantage of hot, dry, sunny weather to cut and gather hay. Thus, “make hay while the sun shines” was just a matter of common sense to them. They eventually began to use the phrase generally to mean to take advantage of circumstances before the chance slips away.

Making good use of a strong market is sensible. You can easily drive sales and grow your business. But this must be balanced. It should not mean working all hours of the day for months, fearing that the market might soon turn.

Making hay only works in the short term:

Focusing only on making hay will cost your business in the long run. Here are the main reasons why:

Lost Time to Invest in Optimising Processes

One of the most immediate effects of overworking is that it leaves no time to invest in optimising processes. When employees are constantly working long hours to keep on top of high workloads, they don’t have the time or energy to look for ways to streamline their work, automate tasks, or find more efficient ways of doing things. This can result in lost sales as you are focused on other tasks and a failure to take advantage of opportunities that could help your company grow and thrive.

Risk of Claims through Not Investing Time in Workflows

Another major risk of overworking is the increased risk of claims and lawsuits. When employees are overworked, they are more likely to make mistakes and overlook important details, putting the company at risk of legal action. This is particularly true in industries where safety and compliance are a major concern, but equally true in surveying where methodical workflows and properly evidencing your processes are key.

Not in a Strong Position When the Market Turns

Overworking can also put companies in a weak position when the market inevitably does turn. When employees are exhausted and overworked, they are less able to respond to new challenges and changes in the market because they haven’t previously focused on optimising processes. This can make it more difficult for the company to adapt and stay competitive, ultimately putting it at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, if your competitors have taken time to work on their business in the good times, they are already working optimally when the market changes. You’re more likely to feel under pressure when things are quiet and again push back to optimising processes when the grass is greener again through fear that you must focus on current operations whilst things are touch instead of investing time in processes. The cycle of not adapting and optimising continues as you get busy again feeling you need to make up for the quiet time and make hay again.

The Cost of Burnout

Perhaps the most damaging effect of overworking is burnout. When employees are pushed to their limits for long periods of time, they are more likely to experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. This can lead to decreased productivity, higher rates of absenteeism, and an increased risk of health problems. In some cases, burnout can even lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, which can have a profound impact on an individual’s life. Add to this the pressure that sales have dropped when the market gets quiet, you feel more pressure but aren’t in a positive mindset to adapt.

It’s too late to start when the market goes quiet

When a market goes quiet, you need to be in the best possible position to respond to new challenges and changes in the market. However, if employees have been overworked, they may not be able to respond effectively. Overworking can lead to decreased productivity, higher rates of absenteeism, and an increased risk of health problems, all of which can negatively impact a business’s ability to perform well in a quiet market.

If you are burnt out, you’ll be less creative and innovative, and be less able to adapt to new situations. This can make it more difficult for the company to stay competitive and respond to new opportunities, ultimately putting it at a disadvantage in a quiet market. A business that has a culture of overworking is likely to have employees who are less engaged and motivated. When employees don’t feel valued or supported, they are less likely to go the extra mile and put in the extra effort that is often required to succeed in a quiet market.

You don’t want to be optimising processes once the market has dropped and the worry of generating enough sales is around. You should invest time when you are busy to ensure you are operating as effectively as possible then but also already in a good position to effectively convert incoming leads whatever the market conditions.


Make hay whilst the sun shines is not a good long-term business strategy. You can do this for short periods just like farmers would when harvesting. But to do this every day will lead to burn out and mistakes. Regardless of the market conditions right now, take time out to review your processes fully and review where you can be better converting leads, optimising processes to reduce admin and help you ensure compliance and good outcomes are much easier for every job. Make hay in all conditions, not just when the sun shines.

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