Busy Work Doesn’t Mean You’re Actually Productive 

Let’s talk about something we all struggle with – busy work. I know I do it and I’m pretty sure you do as well. It’s the work we do that comes easy and makes us feel productive without adding much to help us reach our goals. Often, it’s the stuff we continue to do because we’ve always done it. 

Perfect examples in out business are updating the filing system, reorganising your office supplies, and most of what we call ‘doing research’.

In the online space it’s often related to social media. We feel super productive when we connect with new people on LinkedIn or schedule all our Facebook posts for the week. Busy work can even involve cleaning out our inbox or compiling the monthly report you know no one is actually going to read. 

Take a moment to sit quietly and think about what you do on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis that could be considered busy work. In fact, I recommend you write it down.

Make a List

Make a list of anything and everything you think ‘might’ fit the criteria. Don’t judge or edit yourself here. This is just a brainstorming exercise at this point, and anything goes. Then stick that list into a drawer and walk away for a bit.

Pull it out the next day and read through it. Cross out anything that either isn’t actually busy work on second thoughts, and anything you know is busy work, but you also realise that you can’t get out of doing. No need to waste precious time and mental energy worrying about something you can’t change. 

What you’re left with is a list of things that are fully under your control, and you have some choices to make.

Start by creating a second list and write everything down that you want to stop doing right away. This could involve just one item, or a list of ten or more. Again, it’s important to write it down and I recommend you keep this list on your desk where you can revisit it often.

Change Your Behaviour and Habits

It will serve as a reminder to help you change your behaviour and your habits when it comes to this type of busy work.

Look through it every morning and do what you can to stop working on this stuff. If the list seems too daunting, pick two or three to keep front and centre. Work on changing those and then create a new list if and when you’re ready. 

Last but not least, copy down the rest of the list. This is often things that feel like busy work, but still must get done.

Look through this new list and see what you can delegate or automate. Can you set up auto-pay on those bills? Get your teenager to unload the dishwasher at night?

Revisit this list once a week or so and keep chipping away at it. Combined, these changes will help free up quite a bit of your time that you can then use on productive, important tasks that bring you closer to your goals. 

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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