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An Argument Against ‘Busy’

Photo by Sugar Plum Creative

Do you feel busy all the time but still unaccomplished? Do you find yourself reading every productivity article out there in hopes it will help? Do you carry a lot of information in your head and worry that you’re forgetting something? If you answered yes to any of these questions, know you are not alone. The hustle culture that magazines, social media influencers, and movies praise have left many people feeling like they need to do it all. What that’s really led to is a society where everyone is “busy”.

Busy often looks like a to-do list longer than your leg, multitasking, overcommitting, and long days. Just reading that gives me a little anxiety, but I have friends that wear “busy” as a badge of honor. You probably do too. I don’t think being busy is something to be proud of, and I feel sorry for anyone who makes it their main topic of conversation. There’s a better way. Productivity is possible.

Busy people are often inefficient and unproductive. So, our goal here is to uncover what’s keeping us so busy so we can shift to being productive instead.


The biggest culprit of busyness is task switching. We get in a habit of multitasking without understanding that by trying to do more than one thing at a time, we’re actually taking more time to do those things. That’s because unlike chewing gum and walking, most tasks can’t be done while doing something else. We are actually switching back and forth between those tasks, unable to concentrate on doing them efficiently, thereby causing those tasks to take even longer to do. As humans, we can do far more in less time by focusing on only one thing at a time. Here’s the proof, if you’re not sold yet…

  1. APA research on multitasking

  2. High cost of multitasking for productivity

  3. HBR: A plan for managing constant interruptions at work

  4. HBR: How to stop multitasking

Efficient Technology

As technology has improved, there’s just more of everything…more to read, to see, to do. We’re bombarded with messages everywhere we look because it’s always on. We feel like we need to keep up with technology, but we forget that we aren’t machines. As our tech gets more efficient, we don’t enjoy the time saved, we fill it with more. Often that looks like more interruptions from notifications. Then we seek out more tools to help us become more productive and those tools add to our interruptions.

This pattern keeps us locked in the “on” position, and busy. To break this pattern, try evaluating your tech choices from devices to notification settings. Here are resources that will support you on this journey:

  1. How to break up with your phone

  2. Is it time to unplug?

  3. Are we addicted to speed?

  4. 5 Practices to put in place from Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

By mindfully taking the leap from busy to productive, you’ll feel freer, but it does take work. It’s much easier to stay busy. Busy is the path of least resistance because you can avoid the hard decisions by allowing everyone else to set your agenda for you. Our addiction to being busy is worth breaking. Try it. We can’t wait for you to experience the freedom that comes from breaking up with busyness.

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