I work for an up-and-coming pharmaceutical manufacturing company, let’s call it Xomex. That sounds like it could be the name of a tech company, I don’t know if it is. Anyway, this sentiment has become almost mantra at “Xomex” for awhile now: “I know we’re all really busy…” Managers say it in meetings and everyone nods their head. We preface new projects, new initiatives, and a simple ask for help with, “I know we’re all really busy, but…”
I’m not particularly busy and I don’t think my coworkers are either. What does it really mean to be “busy”? Are we really saying that we have so much work we can’t possibly take on any more? To me, that’s nonsense. “Busy” is an excuse for not properly managing workload. “Busy” is a buzzword to justify the value of to non-value-adding work. “Busy” is used to convey that we are working hard and adding value in our position, when we’re not sure what we should actually be doing.
I say we refuse to accept the notion that we’re all too busy. Let’s focus and prioritize, delegate, and question of the value of projects that may seem like busywork. Let’s work smarter and not make “busy” the goal or something to respect, because really it’s not the goal.
And when you preface a new project, a new initiative, or a simple request for help with “I know you’re busy but…,” you’re really projecting the foregone conclusion that whatever you’re asking for is either less important than what’s keeping the person “busy,” or an understanding that it’s not really going to get done anyway.
Busy =/= productive
As said by the well-recognized efficiency expert Tim Ferriss:
“Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”