Does Being Busy Translate to Being Productive?
While growing up, my dad used to “force” me and my brothers to study at every free time we get. Note the word, “force“, it never happened willingly.
This domineering culture grew to a stage where we automatically pick up our books whenever Dad’s home, we got scolded and sometimes spanked for doing anything else. We were extremely boxed and so even though we stare at the book all day, we ended up reading absolutely nothing!
There were lots of days when Dad left home for work, I’d join my brothers to set textbooks and notebooks on the reading table.
You can already guess what happened each day.
We never studied, but as soon as we hear the honk or luckily sight him from a distance, we quickly wipe our faces with a handkerchief and take specific positions.
The funny part was how we always acted so busy, engrossed in our books, like we’ve read so much that day, and immediately resume watching Power Rangers right after he leaves.
Smart kids right?
My crazy childhood adventure somehow relates to how the modern day open offices work.
Open offices are really cool, but I know too well that no one would turn down the offer of having a private office. Everyone can see you, you can see everyone, so you automatically feel the need to focus on that computer because everyone else appears to have their ears plugged in and focused on work.
I’d be very subtle with breaking this news to you:
A manager that applaudes an employee on how busy he appears would definitely get the shocker of life when its time to get results!
The fact someone appears really busy doesn’t mean they’re doing anything valuable or productive. In cases like this, employers create an atmosphere where everyone feels passively or actively watched, so they encourage them to always look “busy” and not “productive“.
If you don’t appear busy or generally occupied, you’re not regarded as hardworking. That’s the conventional belief.
But on the other hand, appearing busy and trying to appease some abstract eyes only make us less productive.
A few weeks ago, our boss figured we weren’t doing so much. We resumed the usual time every day, stare at our computers all day but nothing was done by the end of each week (we use an open office too).
So, he devised a new system of measuring each person’s task; Everyone has to fill an online sheet of what you’d be doing for that day. Once you’re done with each task, you indicate it’s status, whether it’s done or not.
Each day, we’re expected to finish all the written task and the boss checks it first thing every morning.
You’re probably wondering if this works, your answer is YES!
To be honest, one of the reasons we spend so much time on email, social media, and some other avoidable activities is because it creates the experience that we’re continually engaged and active. And then, we end up believing that if we’re always “busy“, we must be being productive.
Well, productivity doesn’t have several meanings;
The quality of being productive or having the power to produce.
If you’re doing anything short of the above definition, then you’re simply busy, not being productive.
How to Start Being Productive.
- Get a to-do list
- Don’t put so much workload on your to-do list
- Learn to prioritize
- Avoid “unnecessary” distractions
- Find out where you’re stuck and ask for help
- Evaluate your performance at the end of each day
This strategy works for us! We’re continually learning to focus squarely on the work process as well as achieve tangible results, you should do the same.