Are you productive or just busy?

October 23, 2015 by

How many times a day would you ask someone how they are and the response would be – Busy.
They don’t say yeah awesome! or they don’t even say pretty good – just busy. Is busy really how you want to be describing your days? What about being able to say you are epic and amazing!

When did it become the norm to be flat chat all day? Can we link it back to this idea that if you aren’t running around like a headless chicken then you must be lazy and unproductive? There’s a quote that’s done the rounds

Stop the glorification of busy.

I think that hits the nail on the head. We all know that one person who gets to work first in the morning, is last to leave, doesn’t leave their desk at lunch time and couldn’t possibly take a break to get coffee because HOW WOULD ALL THE WORK GET DONE?

If someone you know comes to mind – or maybe this is resonating with you personally – you have a responsibility to change this mindset. Some of these people may have the capacity to produce great outcomes for the entire time they are working, but what is more likely is that these people are not engaged, not enjoying their work and feeling constantly underwhelmed. Basically – they are disengaged but may not even realise it. They think they are passionate and demonstrating ‘hard work’, but really they are slogging it out until they become a thin shell of their former selves. Unfortunately this may mean producing less work than ever and setting an unrealistic expectation of what it means to be a productive, effective worker.

So instead of busy, where you really want to be is somewhere between a combination of these three E’s:

1. Engaged

“Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organisation.” Jim Harter Ph.D

2. Efficient

At a minimum you would hope these ‘busy’ people are at least efficient, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Efficient people do what they say they are going to do – basically they ‘get shi!t done’.

3. Effective

This means doing the RIGHT things. If someone is busy ALL the time, are they really working on the tasks that are important for the organisation achieving its objectives? Or are they just doing tasks the same way they have always been done, without any innovative questioning about the best ways people could be spending their time at work?

Yeah sure, in today’s competitive environment, having a lot of work on is a sign of business health. You definitely don’t want everyone to be twiddling their thumbs – but what people should be aiming towards is being more of the THREE E’S.  If (or when) you get to this optimal level of productivity, despite having mountains of work to churn through, people are able to work in a focused way, manage their energy and produce high volumes of work. And hopefully, they can do so without feeling underwhelmed, stressed, unhappy at work and edging ever closer to the terrifying norm of being burnt out.

The next time someone asks you how you are, be conscious and aware of your response – don’t just default to ‘ busy’.

Renee Wilson is a People Power advocate – she believes that you won’t get far in business without finding brilliant people to fill up your teams and lead the organisational goals. Renee’s expertise lies in training, development, content development, performance management and finding creative ways to help people love their jobs. 

Categories: Balance, Corporate Wellbeing, High Performance, HR, Inspiration, Leadership, Meaning and purpose, Personal Development, Uncategorized, Workplace Culture

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