Why Being Lazy Is Better Than Busy Work

I just finished my QBR for Q4 at World Fitness.

I was looking at our OKR to free up team capacity in time for 2022.

To free up time, we reviewed our work logs from Toggl and pushed each work activity through our productivity filter, i.e.automate, delegate, eliminate and simplify.

We freed up 60 monthly hours of team capacity. Which is great, except I’ve realised the free time was swallowed by busy work.

This is a recurring problem that we probably all struggle with. We don’t seem to do well with free time or, more accurately, how to effectively use that free time. Maybe the cause is some idiosyncratic form of anxiety driven by schooling, upbringing or workplace culture? That feeling like we’re being naughty if we’re not doing something.

So when we have free time, and we don’t know what to do with that time, what do we do, we default to finding ways to be busy.

Being busy generally means you’ve found a way to fill in time rather than a way to use it purposefully. And fill in jobs are almost always low value.

Like, checking emails, writing emails, looking at analytics, doing the banking etc.… These things are fine when you have a reason for doing them. But when the sole basis is to fill in your time, we have a problem.

Reset To Stop Doing Busy Work

In these moments of freedom, a better alternative is to stop, take a break and reset. Give yourself a minute to refocus ‘what are you trying to achieve today, this week, month or year?’

If you take a moment to reset your course of action to rethink what you need to do with this time, review what you need to achieve with your day, week, and year, even if this takes 5,10,30, 60 minutes, you will be infinitely better off.

You will create more value for your business, your team, your customers, and yourself.

Having A Plan Is The Antidote To Busy Work

Who knows what the cause of this strange busyness behaviour is? What matters is finding a true solution.

Knowing and focusing on the outcomes you want to achieve, and the actions that’ll make this possible is the solution. Having a plan is the solution.

Suppose you have a prioritised list of actions written down to complete. You already know what you need to do; you don’t need to get busy.

In those moments when you get the urge to get busy, then you can refer back to your list.

Being Lazy Is Better Than Busy Work

There are times when this won’t work, like when you CBF.

Often the stuff we should be working on is the hardest. The obstacle is the way, aye Ryan.

But who wants to do hard things when you’re feeling lazy. Sometimes it’s okay to be lazy; sometimes, we need to be lazy. Maybe you’ve had a shit nights sleep, perhaps you’re stressed and burned out, maybe you’ve had a super productive week and just want to chill on Friday.

In these moments, do chill. By a long way, you’re better off either doing nothing, taking a break, or doing something you enjoy. A walk, some music, bake a cake. Whatever it is, it’s probably a lot better for you than pretending to be busy at your laptop.

Learning Is Much Better Than Busy Work

Feeling a little more inspired than lazy, but still, CBF, try learning something new.

Learning is a great way to keep creating value while switching off. If you’re learning about something you enjoy, which you should be doing, there’s no point in learning about something you don’t enjoy.

Then you are creating more value for yourself; you are building new skills, building more knowledge, and allowing yourself to see more opportunities. You are doing something that is energy giving rather than energy-sapping.

Busy work is the enemy of productivity. Busy work does not need to happen. Catching yourself busy should be your trigger to either reset, switch off or upskill.


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