*By Jennifer Morris*
Being busy does not mean that you are also being productive. There I said it… come at me “I’m just soooo busy” people. I cannot go a day without someone mentioning how “busy” they are and I too find myself falling into this trap from time to time. There are times when I am truly busy, meaning I am at that moment engaged in something and therefore cannot do something else. Or yes there are a lot of things I have on my to-do list, but are they all pressing at that moment? No of course not, that’s not possible.
I do think that people play the whole “my life is worse off than yours” game by comparing how busy they are with other people, perhaps for the attention? But then there are those people who equate being busy with being important. To those people I will say, you are no more important than the person next to you. I would almost argue that you lack the skill of prioritization. For example, I am working on Christmas Eve, not because I have to but because I feel productive. I’m enjoying a lovely cup of coffee at my favourite cafe and finishing up a few things that need to be done before the end of the year. I am not busy at all… the opposite actually, after a couple of hours here, the only plans I have is to possibly go skating later today. Such a stressful day, however out of context to the outside world, I may look really busy because I am working on a Sunday right before a holiday. There are people who take advantage of these grey areas and then use it to make themselves feel more important and “successful” in the eyes of others because they are “so busy.”
Do you find your days chaotic, and consumed with activities, but at the end of the day, you don’t feel like you produced much work or results? Do you mention how busy you are on social media all the time? When people ask how you are do you often respond with “SO busy, and so tired!” I hate to break it to you but that sounds total shit…Who wants to live like that? Also, spoiler alert, everyone has a lot on their plate these days, so you’re not more important than everyone else. You’re just choosing to deal with your priorities in a way that is extremely unhealthy.
It’s true that the adrenaline of moving from activity to activity can be quite addictive. However, long-term and consistent stress can be quite harmful to your health. The other reason that some people feel the need to share how busy they are is not due to the fact they are actually busy, they see people around them being useful and productive and just want to be seen the same way. Therefore, you see stories on Instagram and social media posts about “how busy this week is going to be” or “how exhausted they are from a crazy week.” Are these posts or stories adding anything to your network? Are they useful to anyone other then themselves for seeking attention and praise? What value do they actually provide?
There are also people out there who create issues and/or busy work to ensure that their jobs/careers are secure. I genuinely hate these people, due to their own lack of self worth. They make everyone’s jobs/lives around them much harder than they need to be. Make-work projects are not actually work – they do not contribute to business and usually end up causing people to focus on the wrong things. At my company, I have implemented many tactics that can eliminate these types of things. Meetings are to be less than 30 minutes and have a concise agenda, only people who are truly needed are to be invited. Others who need to know what happened at the meeting but do not need to contribute, get a summary of the meeting. Also, if you find your employees are constantly working crazy hours, outside of legitimately busy seasons (like for us before Christmas is pretty cray cray) then you as a manager or business owner have not provided them with the proper resources or guidance in order to ensure that they are successful in their everyday tasks.
Instead of celebrating and rewarding people for being busy, let’s celebrate productivity, wins and even failures. But let us stop giving people the reward of our attention for just being “busy”. Chronic busyness should not be glorified as a status symbol and it certainly should not be correlated with success and/or productivity. There is a reason being a busy-body is seen as a negative thing….
Jennifer Morris owns and runs a commercial transportation brokerage and consulting firm based in Toronto. Running a company that focuses on sustainable practices and specializes in food and produce consumer goods, has provided her with a wide variety of experience. She has a profound love for mentoring other entrepreneurs and women in her industry, and a passion for writing, travel and photography.
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