The Relative Value of Being Busy

Adam Bertram over at Adam the Automator posted a piece titled Being Busy Is Just Laziness Disguised as Productivity:

So, what would you say if I told you that being busy is a sign of laziness? It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on the surface. We typically think in this society that being busy is a sign of importance.

we think that if you’re busy that means you’re important, and you’re doing important things, productive things. You’re being productive, you’re getting things done, you’re completing projects, you’re getting tasks done.

Adam makes valid points throughout his piece yet never defines “busy” clearly. I think he means that checking email, instant messages, social media, and such equates to busy. In my office in Tokyo, busy usually equals being in meetings.

Regardless of where or how, I don’t know of any professional worth their salt who cannot tell the difference between low value busyness and high value work. Do they act rationally on their knowledge? Yes, sometimes. Yet some prefer to procrastinate and others think their first draft is good enough.

I also know many people who are on-call for IT or security issues. They lack the luxury of faux busyness.

I’m not arguing against the piece. In the section titled “Whims of What Life Throws at Us”, the article tends toward a very Stoic approach to faux busyness.

Ultimately, each of us needs to objectively assess if we are adding value to ourselves and, by extension, our work through Adam’s definition of busyness. Or can we better add value through other activities.

Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).

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