Maybe it is not a coincidence that the words ”busyness” and ”business” are so close. If your working day is marathon length yet done in full sprint, you may not stop to consider if you are being productive or just running in a hamster wheel along with everyone else. Could you be so busy and still be wasting everybody’s time and the customer’s money?
John Kotter calls this “false sense of urgency” – for inspiration you can check out this video (5 min). It signifies that the organization is occupying itself with numerous activities that do not generate true value. We also call this “Bad Fire” – you think you are generating output, executing plans, reaching goals and showing determination when in reality you are just generating more non-value adding work for your colleagues.
Let’s take CC-emails for one. How many of those do you get a day? Do you read them? File them? Comment on them? A great first step is critically considering who you should put in CC. (Hint: if your CC-list is long, chances are you are working in a politic organization with “low Shield”, which means you spend precious time scheming that could be spend working).
Another indicator are meetings. Those you call, and those you join. Do they generate value? Or are you just meeting the same people you sat with yesterday on a new subject, that might even have been dealt with then? Value doesn’t come from meetings. It comes from sharing information and involving others in decisions that affects their areas of responsibility. Do it smart. Be clear on your goals and messages. Decide. Send people out to get things done in stead of mainly talking about it.
We are strongly in favor of not wearing "busy" as a badge of honor. Great leaders such as you should be better and beyond this. Neither do it nor reward it. This would also end the game of exhaustion where last man/woman standing gets the promotion. In other words: Don't let busyness get in the way of business!