Is busy the same as productive?

Seth Godin published a short blogpost a while ago called ‘Ask a busy person’.

He wrote:

Ask a busy person.

You might know one.

The busy person has a bias for action, the ability to ship, and a willingness to contribute more than is required. The busy person is wrong more than most people (if you get up to bat more often, you’re going to have more hits and more strike outs, right?). Those errors are dwarfed by the impact they create.

Being a busy person is a choice. It might not work for you, but you could try it out for a while. We need more busy people.

We do, I agree, but ‘having a bias for action’ and the ‘willingness to contribute’ focus on just one aspect of ‘busy’ – doing. 

There are other ways to be busy. Other ways to contribute. Thinking is one. One that’s overlooked all too often by those cramming every waking moment with tasks, to dos and action plans.

Asking questions is another. How do you know you are going to reach your end goal if you don’t take the time to check your direction and confirm that you are where you need to be? 

Working with clients on productivity, whether with an individual, with a team or even across a business, there’s a repeat pattern of ‘Let’s get busier, we need to do more.’ Maybe, maybe not.

From my experience, being busy is not the same as being productive. In fact, it’s often counter-productive, with clients doing the same work in a different way or adding more work, neither of which results in getting more done.

It’s always interesting to see clients’ reactions when I say things like: “Maybe you need to do less in order to do more?” or “Maybe you should take some time out to think this through?” It’s frustrating that we’ve created a culture where busy = good and we’ve become conditioned to cram in as much ‘action’ as possible. Clients often think I’m crazy (initially at least) – how could not doing things get more done? 

Action is good but it needs to be action guided by thinking, planning and periodic re-evaluation. Otherwise, you might be busy, but you won’t necessarily get results.

We need more busy people, but we need them to work smart and be productive.

If you’d like to be less busy and more productive, why not try a session of career therapy? I can help you look at what you’re doing and how you can make positive changes.

LinkedIn Louise Newton
Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

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