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Culture Execution Freedom Productivity Self awareness

Good busy

Productivity has everything to do with the quality of your output and whether this output will bring you closer to your goals and eventually to what you aspire to in your life.

Last week I asked a business partner how he was doing. 

His answer was, ‘I’m good busy.’

I asked him what that meant.

He explained that he was almost always busy, ranging from extremely busy to good busy.

Good busy meant that work was not crazy but did not allow much thinking or reflection time.

I then asked him whether he thought it was expected that he was always busy.

‘I got used to it. This is how things go around here.’

Then he changed the subject, clearly not wanting to engage further in this topic.

We went on to discuss the challenges of his work and how he was dealing with the way of working of his new CEO.

Who was even more hands-on than the previous one, inserted himself in almost every conversation, and was willing to be ON 24 hours per day.

Busyness was not going to disappear soon, I thought.

The term ‘good busy’ got me thinking that evening. 

Has ‘good busy’ become our new normal?

Has work evolved to the level that we always need to be busy?

Is it expected to be ON 24 hours?

I know that in some companies, the answer is yes, and in some companies, the answer is no.

Guess which companies are more successful, have a healthier and more engaged culture, and have less turnover of people?

I had a boss once who took pride in being ON all the time.

She did not expect it from her people, but when emails were flying in at 1 am in the morning and again at 4 am, and during the whole day, it required discipline to not fall into the trap of answering immediately.

When you start responding immediately, you’re done. You fell into the trap.

You’re not in control. Control means you respond when it suits your planning for the day. Provided you have one. That’s the prerequisite.

Unfortunately, busy is accepted.

Being busy has become a KPI. If you’re not busy, something is wrong. If you’re extremely busy, you’re doing a great job.

It’s the biggest BS I’ve heard when talking about work.

Do you think athletes are always ON? Do you think athletes are constantly training?

Every athlete will tell you how important rest and recovery are.

I know we don’t look like athletes when we have our business clothes on.

But if you look at the intensity of our work, what’s physically and mentally required, we could easily say that there’s a form of athleticism in our work.

Instead, we stuff ourselves with food and alcohol; we open our laptops as soon as the fasten seatbelts signs are switched off, and we can’t leave the phone for one minute alone, afraid that it will start buzzing that another email has arrived.

We find this normal. 

It’s not. 

Being busy is not a measurement of productivity. 

Always-ON and doing more is not a sign of productivity.

Taking pride in this actually points to a lack of intelligence.

Productivity has little to do with the amount of time you invest in doing the work.

Productivity has everything to do with the quality of your output and whether this output will bring you closer to your goals and eventually to what you aspire to in your life.

Even if you love what you do, and work comes easily to you because it doesn’t feel like work, you still need time to rest, reflect, and recover. 

Your turn: How’s the quality of your output? 

Do more of what makes you happy!

Erikjan

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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