The business of busyness !


Let’s admit it unabashedly- we have a lousy track record of how well we spend our time. Though we all realise that our time is worth something, we, creatures of habit, spend it without intention or foolishly.



We wouldn’t admit our kid in a school that has a bad reputation or take our aging parents to a medical facility that is suspect nor would we invest our advertising dollars in media that has sub-optimal reach. But somehow we don’t seem to be even remotely prudent about our time and we measure it to a far lower standard.


We have reconciled to a default wherein seeming busy seems the dominant choice. Be it doom scrolling endlessly on social media or binge watching on OTT or paying far too much attention to the inbox. And considering that today you might be heading a team, going solo on your passion idea or leading a project- time is all that you have to spend. And productivity does not equate with time spent or you being busy. The real measure of productivity is in the value you are creating, the impact you are making or the lives you are changing for the better. The simple question to answer is did I spend my day producing enough benefit for all the time invested?

Productivity is leaning into things that you don’t know. Or delegating a task to someone who knows. Productivity is focusing on the high-output, high impact work and walking away from the low-output, low impact ones. Productivity is making the right connections that energise and trigger.


My only grouse with productivity is that it somehow ignores the seemingly mundane which of course it is not- We now have a packed schedule: washing up, cooking, cleaning, being a sounding board, lending a helping hand, community work, countless video conference calls with people you have ever and never met and at the end of it hiding in bed hoping that history can’t hear you breathing. But this does not unfortunately count for productivity. It has to. People are working harder than ever but a lot of the work does not fall under the traditional sense of the term ‘ productive ‘. They just don’t count on the ledger of human worth because the economy refuses to value them in its reckoning of what does, because most of it has been done in private, by women, for ages, for free. Making breakfast, making the beds, making sure your friends and family aren’t losing their absolute minds is work that matters more than ever and will continue to matter in the coming decades as crisis follows crisis. It is not “productive,” in the way that most of us have learned to understand what that word means, but it is work, and it is really really worthwhile.


There has been always something obscene about the cult of the hustlethe treadmill of alienated insecurity that tells you that the moment you stop running for even an instant, you will be flung flat on your face. Productivity, or the lack of it, has become the individual metric of choice for coping with the international econo-pathological clusterfuck of the Corona Crisis. 


Working is Not Productivity. The message once(and even now) was loud and clear. Relentless self-optimisation was a way to cope, but is it really? Humans are NOT search engines !

Your job is not being busy. Busy is not going to get you what you seek. Busy is not the point. The point is creating value. You get today only once. So would your team. What will you do to make it count?

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