By Ashley K. Taylor, D.B.A.
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University
Parenting blogs often post articles about the many activities that mothers complete in a day. “It’s only 8 a.m. and I’ve already washed two loads of clothes, packed the children’s lunches, cleaned the bathrooms, and prepped meals for the entire week. Whew!”
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In the workplace, employees are always ready to enumerate the never-ending list of activities they’ve finished. “I’ve held two meetings and created memorandums for six different departments. No time for lunch; I have a strategy meeting that will probably run the rest of the afternoon. I will catch up on all the emails this evening when I get home.”
We get it. You’re busy. We all have numerous tasks to complete throughout the day. The issue, however, is how common it has become to “glorify busy.”
Constant activity does not equate to productivity or effectiveness. Nor does it elevate one above another. It is simply…being busy.
Instead, we should:
1) Embrace mindfulness – Think about what you’re doing and why. How do you feel as you work through mounds of paperwork on your desk? How do you feel once that task has been accomplished? Get in touch with the motivation behind your activities. Ask yourself, “Is it worth it? What will be the return on my time investment?” Think about the answer.
2) Enhance productivity – Juggling several different tasks at once is a challenge. Your focus is divided. While it is possible to multi-task, it is much more productive to prioritize your activities. You can prioritize your tasks in a few different ways.
For example, you can sort them by due date or level of importance. The point is to effectively attain desired outcomes rather than to simply cross another item off your to-do list.
3) Take a break – Stopping is exactly the opposite of being busy, but it is equally necessary. We all need to rest. Taking a break can be as simple as getting up from your desk and taking a few steps outside. Inhale the fresh air. Absorb the sun’s vitamin D.
Disconnecting from the job for a few minutes can work wonders for reinvigoration. Sometimes, you need a longer break, a vacation perhaps. This requires a longer and deeper level of recreation for the mind, body and spirit. It is important to stop so you can keep going.
Time is our most precious commodity. Once it is gone, it can’t be recovered. Embracing mindfulness, enhancing productivity, and taking a break can help us make more effective use of our time and energy. Let’s stop “glorifying busy” and redirect our accolades and focus on meaningful activity and equally meaningful stepping away.
About the Author
Dr. Ashley Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the School of Business at American Public University. She has a D.B.A. from Northcentral University and a M.B.A. from University of Phoenix. She has been a full-time faculty member at American Public University since 2008 and has spent over 14 years in higher education administration and management.