are you productive or just busy?

June 13, 2014

Good morning to you!

Have you ever found that one sign of laziness is busyness? I have found myself being lazy by being busy again and again.

Now most of us don’t equate busyness with laziness, in fact, we take a bit of pride in rushing around doing a lot of stuff. It seems we equate frenetic activity with productivity or value. Our society says “get busy!”.

However, it can actually be a form of busyness. What would you rather do some days – clean out your ever full inbox,knock off those 15 – 20 small talks on your To-Do list, go to some meetings, or tackle that complex issue that requires deep thought and is not easily resolvable? Often times, I would rather take care of a bunch of small tasks and get my inbox down to a small number rather than tackle the really big issues.

I remember when I was working in the Defense Systems and Electronics Group of Texas Instruments. We were moving at a fast pace then and some of us were rushing around – all of us that is except one of the design engineers. He would sit at his desk, which often had nothing on it at all, just thinking. In fact, sometimes he would even have his head laying on his desk with his eyes closed! Some of us were wondering how and why did his supervisor tolerate this behavior. Then, this so called “lazy” engineer designed a product for the company that brought far more value to the company than all the rest of us combined. Instead of being caught up in busyness and trying to impress others with his “value”, he was mentally wrestling with a very complex problem – and he solved the problem with an incredible return for the company.

We were busy – he was productive. We took care of many tasks – he solved a major problem.

So, are you being lazy by being “busy” or are you willing to do the hard work of taking the time to focus on the big problems that will truly make a difference?

Have a great weekend!


Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. do we have a wrong definition of productivity? « BG Allen - June 20, 2014

    […] As I noted in an earlier blog, this could be one form of laziness, for some people it is all they know, and for many of us, it is the behavior that is functionally valued and rewarded in our organizations. However, often the greatest value to the organization are the people who take time to think deeply and to wrestle with the core issues or challenges facing the organization. Those people who are digging to find the root cause(s) and to develop long-term solutions to those problems. People who are concerned  that they are working on the “one thing” that will tip the scales in whatever endeavor they are working on. These people are the ones that often bring the most value to an organization, but unfortunately, in most of our organizations they are seen as “unproductive” as they are not rushing around and attending many meetings. They are often just thinking. Yet, given the chance, they are the ones that solve the biggest problems or develop game-changing innovations. […]


  2. mission/priorities vs. busyness « BG Allen - June 16, 2014

    […] Last week we talked about how busyness is often a form of laziness. What I didn’t mention is that as leaders we are often subtly (sometimes not so subtly) encouraging busyness at the expense of mission accomplishment or allowing people to work on projects that are longer term and actually have greater mission impact. […]