Busy, busy, busy — but not really getting anything done? From the idea of the “busy trap” to the overwhelming feeling many professionals have at the end of each day and week, overload is a real issue.
But what if we’re looking at the issue in the wrong way? What if you could reframe your thinking, feel less busy and perhaps get more done? It’s a topic several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week.
Busy paints a picture of people who are either keeping themselves occupied or who don’t have the time to do other things.
Here’s what two of them had to say.
Morgan Spurlock, filmmaker, president and founder at Warrior Poets Entertainment
“I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the way we were convinced that being ‘busy’ was good for us,” wrote Spurlock in his post Being Busy is a Waste of Time. Spurlock himself has “all but eliminated the word busy” from his personal and workplace vocabulary.
“We’re not busy … we’re productive,” he wrote. “And yes, there’s a difference.”
“Busy paints a picture of people who are either keeping themselves occupied or who don’t have the time to do other things,” Spurlock explained. “Productive describes an environment rich with goals, personal and professional achievements and wrapped in success, a place where you're actually creating something vs just doing something.”
Spurlock breaks productivity down to four categories.
“Personal productivity… is the most important one, as it centres around the time that I make to spend with my family, my friends and doing things that fulfil me as a living person,” he wrote. “I know it’s odd to look at the time you spend with your family as being productive... but by doing so, I’m mentally making it more important. I’m giving it the same weighted value that I put on being able to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. Personal productivity keeps me human and reminds me what really matters in this world."
“Financial productivity is an important one, as these are the projects that create consistent revenue, they keep the dog fed, the interwebs working and gas in the tank, but they also free us up to focus more on the first two (personal and creative productivity),” Spurlock wrote.
“By shrouding all of these areas of my life in the nature of being productive, I am making them more valuable,” he concluded. “There are tangible results, both personally and professionally, associated with them. By looking at my work and my time through this lens, it makes them all more rewarding.”
Travis Bradberry, president at TalentSmart
“Being busy has somehow become a badge of honor. The prevailing notion is that if you aren’t super busy, you aren’t important or hard working,” wrote Bradberry in his post How Being Busy Makes You Unproductive. “The truth is, busyness makes you less productive.”
He went on to say, “When we think of a super busy person, we think of a ringing phone, a flood of emails and a schedule that’s bursting at the seams with major projects and side-projects hitting simultaneously,” he wrote. “Such a situation inevitably leads to multi-tasking and interruptions, which are both deadly to productivity.”
The truth is, busyness makes you less productive.
As Socrates said: Beware the barrenness of a busy life. There’s some proof to that statement.
“David Meyer from the University of Michigan published a study recently that showed that switching what you’re doing mid-task increases the time it takes you to finish both tasks by 25%,” Bradberry wrote.
Another data point: “Microsoft decided to study this phenomenon in their workers and found that it took people an average of 15 minutes to return to their important projects… every time they were interrupted by e-mails, phone calls, or other messages,” Bradberry wrote. “They didn’t spend the 15 minutes on the interrupting messages, either; the interruptions led them to stray to other activities, such as surfing the web for pleasure.”
But why do we feel we’re getting so much done when we’re so busy?
“We’re so enamored with multitasking that we think we’re getting more done, even though our brains aren’t physically capable of this,” Bradberry wrote. “Regardless of what we might think, we are most productive when we manage our schedules enough to ensure that we can focus effectively on the task at hand.”
In some studies, it was found that people use busyiness to “hide from… laziness and fear of failure”. “We burn valuable time doing things that aren’t necessary or important because this busyness makes us feel productive,” he wrote. “As it turns out, you really do have to slow down to do your best.”
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