LA 023: The Busyness Delusion – Why Your Efforts May Not Lead to Success



He who stays latest is working hardest.

It's 10 O Clock as you turn the lights out that you switched on that morning as you leave after a 16 hour slog of a day. Grabbing a quick bite as you run for the train home knowing that the kids will be fast asleep by the time you get there. Another day in paradise.

At least you can relax easily at home knowing what a hard worker you are. Thinking of all you have accomplished today in the mistaken belief that effort equals results.

You could be suffering the busyness delusion.

Being too good at your job might reduce the perception of the value you are giving!

Being too good at your job might reduce the perception of the value you are giving!

I worked for a French company for a while some years back. In spite of their reputation for taking incredibly long lunch breaks, French companies often display what I call a very macho culture. It's essentially based on being seen to be busy and actively involved.

There was essentially, a competition to be first into the office and last out of the door at night. And, at a minimum, arrive earlier than the boss, and leave after he had left the building.

The staff would turn up early in the day and place their coat or jacket on the back of their chair and on into the computer. Then go for coffee.

Whenever any of the bosses were around, there was a flurry of activity and people rushed.

I never really figured out whether people were busy because they were so focussed on being seen to be busy, or whether they were busy because they wasted so much time appearing to be busy.

Sweating my assets

When we put in a lot of effort, we sweat. And in financial terms, we want our assets sweating to show that they are productive
When we put in a lot of effort, we sweat. And in financial terms, we want our assets sweating to show that they are productive

Businesses have long been aware that assets, once bought, need to be used as productively as possible. 24/7/365 ideally, else there is some productivity left unused. The financial term for this is to ‘sweat your assets'. It's based on the same idea that when we are working hard, we sweat. The harder we work, the more we sweat. And the harder we work, the more productive we are. Or at least, that's the theory.

As I live in Singapore, it's pretty easy to get a sweat on. All I have to do is turn off the AC. Doesn’t make me any more productive, just hot and a little pungent.

If you were any good at the job, you’d do it in half the time

Dan Ariely's meeting with a locksmith http://danariely.com/2010/12/15/locksmiths/

No one really cares how hard or long you work http://99u.com/articles/51908/nobody-cares-how-hard-you-work

Whilst you worry about what everyone else is thinking about you, they're worrying about what you're thinking about them. So you should be worried about what you are thinking about them but you're not, because you’re too consumed with what they're thinking about you, but they're not because they're spending all this neurological effort thinking about you thinking about what they're thinking about.

No balance

Striving for work life balance because we allow work to take over our lives
Striving for work life balance because we allow work to take over our lives

Levels of stress that cause your body's cells to age prematurely http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/give-up/410485/

Hard work doesn’t lead to rewards

Show leadership – what your boss really want is help to get things done. Not analysed, not talked about, not paraded, done! Share and carry the load. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/real-reason-get-promoted.html

Being seen to be busy

Perceived value. People prefer to watch how busy and hard working a website is when searching for results. They actually like to watch the illusion that the website is working hard!

http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=40158

It's not enough to jump through the hoops. You;ve got to be SEEN jumping through the hoops
It's not enough to jump through the hoops. You've got to be SEEN jumping through the hoops

This increase PERCEIVED value.

So why do we need to be seen to be busy?

Remember that website being SEEN to be working hard as it searched for the results?

That seems to be true in most offices as well.

The people who get promoted are those who are seen to be actively busy and producing results.

It seems that its no good if you simply get the results quietly and unobtrusively, you have to make sure that the people who need to see you getting those results do see them.

It's real politik and if you refuse to play the game, you will be overlooked. Not because you are no good, but those that need to know may simply not see you for all the busy bodies in the way trying to steal the limelight.

 

Check out this episode!

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