Can We Choose Ourselves Over Busy Work?
Yet another recent survey of 10,000-plus workers reveals that people spend more than half their day doing ‘busy’ work. In this context, work means searching for information, giving status updates and doing administrative tasks rather than “actual” work. Isn’t it fascinating that now our workplace experts are dividing work into two segments: busy and actual work!
What’s being reported is more and more busyness, anxiety and burn out when it comes to how we make a living because there is limited reporting going on about people who are loving the ‘work’ we are doing. We just constantly hear about the misery and toxicity. That’s fascinating in itself!
Now, Is ‘Busy’ Work Shocking News, or Not?
I am not shocked at all but I get back to what I have been sharing for over a decade or two: we no longer know what work means. Here are some of the responses from the study, which reports that:
- 58% of a work day is being spent doing “work about work,” including communicating about work, searching for information, switching between apps, managing shifting priorities and chasing status updates.
- More than five hours a week, or a total of six working weeks each year, are wasted because of busy work, including duplicate tasks and pointless meetings.
- Employees are spending 27% more time this year on skilled work—but nearly 36% less time on strategy.
- Managers are losing 62% of their workdays on work about work.
- There is a lack of clarity around work, which is making burnout worse.
- Around the world, 40% of workers even say they believe burnout is an inevitable part of success.
And no one is to blame here because this is not happening to us—we are part of this story and we get to choose how we react. As more of us question what work means in our lives, we determine the value we attach to it.
So What Can We Do?
As individuals, we get to choose where we spend our precious lives and with who. There are more and more opportunities opening up right and slowly, we can switch the story. Instead of being picked, we can choose ourselves.
Picking ourselves—which really means that we stop waiting for someone else to discover us, like a recruiter who has the perfect job for us or the client with the perfect project—can be one of the hardest things to do for many reasons. This is especially difficult when the common story about rejection being a sign of failure is the story we continue to tell ourselves.
But it has always been a two-way street; we get a choice and no longer need to be picked by someone else. We need to ask the hard questions and believe in ourselves by making healthy choices for our wellbeing. No one else will make it for us. And nothing will change until we do.
When there’s no one to blame or judge, we make room for creating what we need instead of complaining and being on the defensive. This is where our blank canvass comes in as it is a huge opportunity to figure out what work means to us and what role it plays in our lives. We get to write meaningful stories that may not fit any of the boxes of existing surveys.
And listening is becoming much more critical these days as is open dialogue and an ability to take action. Real “work” is exhilarating, fulfilling and so needed and who doesn’t want to make an impact?
Let’s not have regrets by being our authentic selves and advocating for ourselves and each other (no misery needed)!
p.s. On another note, I came across a newsletter this morning that told me: “If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re a busy person and you just want the highlights. Think about this the next time you’re creating content.” And I laughed out loud at this advice.
Busy or not, what we each want is value and when we get it, we have all the time in the world. Our fast food society tells us that we only have time for highlights but is that what we value? Anyone have time to stop and think about why we are so fond of going fast— when there’s no destination in life; just life itself?
Enjoy your ride with zero regrets!