Although we don’t like the sensation of being busy, we tend to view our busyness as a virtue. We think of constant activity as the hallmark of someone who is productive.
But that’s a huge misconception. Busyness can actually be a symptom of laziness, ineffectiveness, and procrastination. In fact, most of the time I’m busy – it’s precisely because I’m being lazy.
I may have a difficult and important task ahead of me, and – deep down inside – I don’t want to do it. Choosing to do another activity instead is a textbook example of procrastination.
I may be able to procrastinate by playing video games for a few minutes, but eventually I come to my senses and see that I’m just stalling. I could spend a little time sipping coffee and leisurely reading a book – but then I’m confronted with the fact that I’m trying everything I can to put off the important, difficult task.
It’s only a matter of time before extended “relaxing” sets off my inner alarms.
Low Value Work
But instead of filling our schedules with leisure activities, what if we were to fill our schedules with low-value work tasks?
We’re really good at justifying this. We can tell ourselves that we’re just setting the table. We’ll tackle the smaller tasks so that we can then devote ourselves fully to that major project.
This is a real danger. These tasks have some value, so it’s much easier to convince ourselves that working on them is a good idea. And we can go much, much longer without our inner alarm bells going off.
I know this is something I’ve struggled with. I’ve wasted hours, days, even weeks working on low-value activities instead of tackling the difficult, important tasks that I should have been working on.
What’s essentially happening is that we’re prioritizing poorly. We’re choosing what we do based on what’s easy and convenient for us in the moment – instead of what really has value for us.
In a sense, it’s taking the easy way out. It’s living our life in a half-hearted way because it’s simpler. That is laziness, plain and simple.
And here’s where it can get really dangerous: We can actually invent work to do. We clean our desks when they’re not messy, check our Email more than necessary, and return phone calls that don’t need to be returned. Our stall tactics get us running around in circles and we never tackle the important – all the while, feeling busy and stressed.
Is your busyness a sign of laziness?
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