A recent study found that Americans who always say they’re “busy” are actually seen as more important.
Often on the elevator, at the coffee bar, water cooler or break room you hear this conversation:
“Haven’t seen you in awhile. How are you?”
“Yes, me too. Busy, busy, busy!”
One day, my team and I reached the tipping point and decided to stop using “busy” to describe how we were. Whatever happened to “fine”? “Stop glorifying busy!” became our battle cry. As it turns out, we were on the right track.
Inc. magazine recently reported, “Research suggests ‘busyness’ is the mark of inefficiency and self-delusion.” We may THINK we are getting a lot done, but in reality, we’re not. Multi-tasking? Ha! That “quality” is on almost every resume I see. “Great multi-tasker.” Really? Research by Professor David Meyer of the University of Michigan reveals that suddenly switching from doing one thing to another means you take 25 percent longer to do each thing.
The truth is, we are feeling busier because we have more interruptions and distractions than ever before. One of my pet peeves is the person who emails you, then instead of waiting for a response, comes marching to your desk, interrupts your flow of work and asks if you got their email. 99 out of 100 times, it isn’t something urgent or especially time sensitive. And once interrupted, studies show it takes 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things. It makes me shudder when I realize how many times a day I am interrupted, or become distracted.
There is also a ridiculous amount of pressure with our technology, to never be off duty. Do you remember what it was like to go on vacation and not have your boss or co-workers contacting you and pulling your brain back to the office, despite your body being in a tropical paradise. Remember weekends? When you could shut down? Now that we have our phones, tablets and even watches, we are expected to be “on.”
I was in a situation at a previous workplace where the weekend and late-night emailers often reached out to me and a co-worker. Where I would try to draw a “healthy” boundary of not responding until morning (unless it was truly urgent), the co-worker responded within minutes. I started feeling pressured to drop that healthy boundary and be on call 24×7. After all, busyness is equated to success, right?
How do you stop the busyness merry-go-round? It’s in your power to do so. After all, it is YOUR schedule.
Wishing you the best of luck as we tackle this unbusy-business together.