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Busyness Addiction– Are you productive or are you just busy?

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

"There is a difference between keeping yourself occupied and keeping yourself productive at work."

Often in the corporate world it is assumed that the busiest employee is the most hardworking or productive employee. Which is not usually true. There is a difference between keeping yourself occupied and keeping yourself productive at work.


The Trap of Busyness

People usually fall into the trap of keeping themselves occupied to be seen busy and to keep themselves busy one way is that they engage themselves either in unproductive or unnecessary tasks such as constantly checking emails or Slack messages, checking LinkedIn profiles and post 20-30 times a day etc. The other way is with overburden, people often overburden themselves with multiple tasks to keep themselves deliberately busy at work, which can be beneficial if planned well but can be enormously harmful as well. An individual may load himself/herself with work so much that he/she may not excel at any task. But is it adding anything to their resumes or profile. Is your reporting manager bothered to keep a check that how much you keep yourself occupied in a day if your occupancy leading to no results. The answer clearly is No. Then why do people do it? Some of the reasons that why people are hooked to this busyness trap are below:


Why do people fall into the trap?

  • Misconception of busyness equating with high productivity.

  • Nobody wishes to be seen as a lazy, lousy, and lethargic person so better to be seen busy.

  • Some people use their busyness as a shield to deflect additional work, new challenges, or responsibilities from their managers.

  • Many take up more and more additional responsibilities which are more than their capacity to overprove their capabilities, skills, and talent.

  • Some have a perception of busyness equating to senior position.

  • Some people think that being busy is a status symbol, and that the busier someone is, the more important they must be.

  • There is a tendency to reward or appreciate employees by many managers for not been seen unproductive in the system. So, to gain those brownie points many pretend to be seen busy.

  • Some employees may feel pressure to appear busy, even if they are not actually doing anything productive.


Impact

Overloading yourself with too much work beyond your capacity doesn’t always lead to pushing your boundaries situations neither does spending your time and efforts at work in unproductive tasks yield any results. It rather results mental, health and productivity issues such as

  • Stress, anxiety, and burnout can be caused by performance pressure due to excessive workload.

  • Health & mental issues due to stress and anxiety.

  • Deskilling with experience.

  • Stagnant learning & growth.

  • Mid age career crisis.

  • Poor relationships – as people become so busy showing themselves busy, they often don’t invest time in building relationships at work.

  • Poor productivity

  • Unattractive or unfavorable appearance / Negative impression

  • Self-created poor work life balance disturbing your personal as well as professional equilibrium.


How to get rid of this addiction?

  • Engage yourself in productive assignments.

  • Utilize downtime in upskilling or building better relationships and network in your field.

  • It is completely normal to take some breaks to refresh your mind and regain energy.

  • Delegate tasks if overburdened, do not push yourself to the mark where you reach burnout situation.

  • Learn the art of time management. Prioritize your important tasks over frivolous activities.

  • Do not hesitate to say no to any unproductive tasks put on your head which will hamper your productivity for a long time.

  • Invest free time in training activities to keep your skills upgraded.

  • Help others with their work when unoccupied and take help from others when you are over occupied with work.

  • Take up new challenges whenever possible if your job is giving you lots of Interludes.

  • Work on your cognitive biasness of busy-ness as a sign of engagement.

  • Learn the art of doing nothing occasionally, it’s perfectly fine to be still and chill.

  • Utilize free time for mental, physical wellbeing and personal growth.


Getting rid of busyness addiction is like overcoming any other addiction. It takes self-help, time, effort, and commitment. Better prioritize the output over effort.


It is important to focus on being efficient and effective, rather than simply being busy.

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