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Busyness
Old 03-16-2010, 12:03 PM   #1
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Busyness

The "finding purpose" thread was on my mind when I had an "Aha!" moment from this Scott Berkun essay: "The cult of busy"

Quote:
When I was younger I thought busy people were more important than everyone else. Otherwise why would they be so busy? I had busy bosses, busy parents, and always I just thought they must have really important things to do. It seemed an easy way to see who mattered and who didn’t. The busy must matter more, and the lazy mattered less.
This is the cult of busy. That simply by always seeming to have something to do, we all assume you must be important or successful.
It explains the behavior of many people at work. By appearing busy, people bother them less, and simultaneously believe they’re doing well at their job. It’s quite a trick.
I now believe the opposite to be true.
...
This means people who are always busy are time poor. They have a time shortage. They have time debt. They are either trying to do too much, or they aren’t doing what they’re doing very well. They are failing to either a) be effective with their time b) don’t know what they’re trying to effect, so they scramble away at trying to optimize for everything, which leads to optimizing nothing.
After nearly eight years of ER you'd think that I'd be better at avoiding busyness, but the old habits still creep back on to the schedule.

Or maybe these days I'm much more aware of the syndrome.

The biggest plans on today's schedule are surfing and a nap, not necessarily in that order...
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Old 03-16-2010, 01:24 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
The "finding purpose" thread was on my mind when I had an "Aha!" moment from this Scott Berkun essay: "The cult of busy"


After nearly eight years of ER you'd think that I'd be better at avoiding busyness, but the old habits still creep back on to the schedule.

Or maybe these days I'm much more aware of the syndrome.

The biggest plans on today's schedule are surfing and a nap, not necessarily in that order...
and posting here :-)
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:08 PM   #3
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When I see how tribal people live, it makes me wonder how most humans came to embrace the cult of busyness that we now revere so much.

I know that DW feels guilty when she does nothing during the week-end... With her computer and crackberry always on, she has brought the cult of "busyness" in our house. It irritates me so much. People send her emails on Sundays (and make sure to cc everyone else in the company), just to prove that they are "busy". I say get a life people.

When I was in graduate school, my advisor wanted graduate students in the lab 7 days a week. So students went to the lab on the weekend on the off-chance of him showing up but most were just there "looking busy" (surfing the internet). I told him I would stop coming on the week-ends because I thought I had better things to do with my time than spend my week-ends pretending to be busy just to suck up to him. I worked hard all week to do my work, and I wanted to have my weekends to relax. He wasn't happy, but I still got my Ph.D. in 4.5 years, before every other busy body in the group.

I think that people confuse busyness with hard work and effectiveness. Busyness is overrated.
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
The biggest plans on today's schedule are surfing and a nap, not necessarily in that order...
Quote:
They are either trying to do too much, or they aren’t doing what they’re doing very well.


Yeah, take those things off of your to-do list right now. Or perhaps Mr. Berkun can explain how doing nothing (not busy) is better than doing something (busy).
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Old 03-16-2010, 03:31 PM   #5
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and posting here :-)
That's actually been on my list since Saturday. I've had a busy week and I'm still catching up...
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Old 03-16-2010, 04:06 PM   #6
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Blogging creates facile people who are good at asserting some overly simple message about a complex topic. If they really believe what they say they are simpletons.

Were the people running the Allied campaign during WW2 busy? Was that a bad thing?

Ha
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Old 03-16-2010, 04:17 PM   #7
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Guilty as charged about the "busy" thing.
I am getting better about it as I approach my 3rd annniversary of FIRE on April 1st. Until then, I'll keep just have to keep myself busy trying not to be busy.
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Old 03-16-2010, 04:46 PM   #8
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Were the people running the Allied campaign during WW2 busy? Was that a bad thing?
I think the point is that there's a difference between "appearing" busy, and being busy. I don't think anybody would trivialize the necessary urgency of what happens in, say, the typical hospital emergency room. The folks who work there are busy, and necessarily so: lives depend on them acting quickly.

The number of people for whom that can be said is statistically very, very small.
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Old 03-16-2010, 05:49 PM   #9
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The culture when I w*rked at MegaMotors was one of constant feigned busyness. The standard answer to "How are you ?" was always a flood of complaints about being excessively busy. Anyone with half a brain could tell who was truly busy or not.
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Old 03-16-2010, 07:59 PM   #10
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When I first started my employment with the municipalty, the guy that was training me, told me that as long as I "looked" busy that the boss would never find work for me to do. It worked for my first 17 years under that boss! He always went on and on about how I was the best employee that he had, because I was the only one that always stayed busy....."stayed busy" in his eyes....but in reality I only "looked busy".

I see the old boy at coffee every once in a while, and he still goes on and on about his wonderful perception of me! And I just don't have the heart to tell him the truth of the matter, 'cause it really seems to have kept him happy for all these years.

Didn't have to keep playing the game with all of the bosses after him, because they only cared about getting the necessary work done and didn't care what you did after that....which made my job much more stress-free!

These days "busyness" does not really register in my brain anymore. However, I think I may have accidentally slipped into a mild form of "busyness" today. I was so dang busy sitting out on the patio, soaking up the sunshine and fresh air, and listening to the birds chirping and singing all day today, that I just didn't have enough time to actually goof off! And for some strange reason, I'm afeared it's gonna happen all over again tomorrow!!!
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haha View Post
Blogging creates facile people who are good at asserting some overly simple message about a complex topic. If they really believe what they say they are simpletons.

Were the people running the Allied campaign during WW2 busy? Was that a bad thing?

Ha
There is a difference between busy and productive. You can be busy and productive or just busy. Ike and Monty were busy and productive (well Monty not so much).

My soon to be ex-employer values busyness, but not production. I hate being busy. If I have work to do, I get it done and move on. Sometimes there isn't
anything else to do right then so I get up, take a break, shoot the bull. My immediate supervisors usually appreciate my work. It is timely, accurate and they can see I am always ready for more, if they have any to give. On the other hand, management only sees me getting up, taking a break or shooting the bull. They assume I am a slacker. My immediate supervisors usually stand up for me, but it is hard to overcome that initial impression. My career has probably suffered for it.

Look busy, however, and you are valued, even revered. Become and overtime hog, but never turn out a project and they look past the lack of productivity because you look good doing nothing. Not sour grapes, just the way it is and I accepted it long ago. I do what I do more for the pride in a job well done than to please some no nothing in management.

I agree. Busyness is overrated. Nothing like spending a day sitting around doing practically doing nothing. Hopefully, when I retire, I can shake the pangs of guilt.
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Old 03-17-2010, 07:47 AM   #12
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Fly, I can identify with what you wrote

I worked in a forge shop for 19 years....

I was the lead guy called the Blacksmith for 15 of those years.

Every job had an time on it, I was expected to meet or beat that time on every order.

Of course it was in my best interest to never let management know how fast we could really make the parts and make it very easy to make the time

They would just give us less time on the next order and we were paid by the hour...

It was a never ending game of appearing busy while management was watching, as opposed to letting them know how fast we could really get it done...

I grew tired of that BS and decided Id just get er done and take my breaks...

Management didn't like it, but my crew had the best safety quality and production in the shop...

My peers were all better at playing the "appear busy" game. I was never into the backstabbing ass kissing office politics

I was late every day and I left early every day, my crew took the longest breaks

I used to wish we could just get paid a base rate and get paid piecework after that...

If they would have I could have worked 6-8 hour days for the same $$$ as the 10-11 I had to...

Thank god that's over with
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:47 AM   #13
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For a while there I felt guilty about not being busy, "having a purpose", etc.

But with therapy (here) I got over it.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:53 PM   #14
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Many people ask me, "Now that you are retired, what do you do to keep busy." From now on, I'm going to answer, "I don't need to keep busy. But I do want to stay productive, so I do the following ..."
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Old 03-20-2010, 03:09 AM   #15
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I am so glad I don't have to act busy anymore at work like I did at megacorp!
If I don't have clients, I read a book, take a nap, surf the net, eat some lunch, bs with my co-workers....what a relief it is to be out of the office!
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