We Should Stop Equating Being Busy With Being Important

The article is a little older, but the headline immediately grabbed my attention when I saw it.

People Who Brag About Being in Back-to-Back Meetings Deeply Misunderstand Productivity

It grabbed my attention because it’s something I hear quite often, often in combination with the other, more obvious, “complaint” about working long hours.

And yes, the word complaint is in quotes because we all know that when we mention the hours or the back-to-back meetings, we complain about it, but we are really bragging about how busy we are for one simple reason. Busy people are in demand, they are important.

But, are they really?

What is the evidence that the people who have calendars that are crammed full weeks in advance or who spend late hours and weekends working are actually performing any better than the folks who don’t?

Should we stop to consider the possibility that people who do put in these long hours and attend so many meetings just aren’t very good at time management? No, obviously that is not always the case. Some people really just are overwhelmed with the number of meetings they are expected to attend, and then have to work long hours to get any non-meeting work done. I’d be willing to bet, however, that would change if the culture stopped rewarding it. People “complain” about the hours and the meetings because they know the underlying culture equates that level of busyness with being productive and important. They are really cementing that impression with the people they work for, and with by driving home the point. “Look at me! I am so important that I have to do all of these things!”.

Wouldn’t we be a lot better served with managers who know how to delegate and schedule meetings as appropriate instead of constantly adding more meetings? Wouldn’t we be better off with employees who are refreshed and full of creative ideas? instead of overworked and constantly running from meeting to meeting? Ones that get things done efficiently by managing their time and efforts better?

If you think that sounds good, then stop rewarding being busy.

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