Is Your Busyness a Form of Laziness? 3 Questions for Busy Bees

“Hey did you get that e-mail I sent you?”

...asks the guy who sits right next to you, not even 6-ft from your cubicle.  “No,” you answered, “when did you send it?”  “About 30 seconds ago,” he said flippantly, like it wasn’t even a weird thing for him to ask.  “I just wanted to see if you saw it - can you believe that guy?” he asked.

You apologized for not seeing the message come through immediately, and sadly, you actually felt a little bad about it.  You were at your desk, so why weren’t you paying attention when the incoming message came in?  

It’s obvious when someone e-mails you - didn’t you see the message inside the little rectangular box at the bottom right corner of your screen?  It also comes furnished with a cute, customizable, ringtone that “pings” a little too aggressively.  Your boxes are set to appear and fade away after approximately 30-seconds, so at the cadence you typically send and receive e-mail, it was rare to see your desktop free from these slowly-fading boxes.  

So how did you miss his message?

Oh, yeah that's right…you were actually trying to get some work done when 6-ft away cubicle guy sent you the message AND prairie-dogged his head up into your cubicle…

Well, shame on you for not being there. 

“I’m checking it now,” you said urgently.  You frantically fumbled for your mouse as a pen rolled onto the floor.

the endless overwhelm of e-mail

You jumped in front of the screen and proceeded to read through your inbox as 6-ft away guy waited with somewhat baited breath; he may have even been drooling out of the corner of his mouth, it’s hard to tell; you didn’t want to look.  

Your co-worker sitting 10-ft caddy-corner from your cubicle mumbles without making eye contact in a monotone utterance, “hey did you guys see that e-mail Roger just sent?”  “Yes,” 6-ft away guy answers, “we were just talking about it...but she didn’t see it come through yet,” he continues.  

Your phone rings.  It’s your supervisor’s administrative assistant.  She’s calling to tell you your boss wants you come to a budget meeting scheduled tostart in about 10 minutes.  You see an incoming e-mail from your boss come through reciting the same news - thank God you were on e-mail this time! 

You responded, “I’ll be there,” but didn’t have time to do anything with it; so it stayed in your inbox - later to be forgotten.

For the next five minutes, you search for the e-mail message that 6-feet away guy sent, but you can’t seem to find it amongst the vast sea of 2,432 messages already having made home in your electronic space.  

You tell him you gotta go, but you’ll make sure you check it out as soon as you get back from your meeting.  He tells you not to worry about it, that it wasn’t important but he asks you to “e-mail me back,” as soon as you read it.

busyness is a form of laziness

You try to remember what you were working on before 6-ft away guy interrupted you…you can’t remember, but for some reason you have a feeling it was important.  You zoned out for about three minutes when “Oh $**% that’s right!” you panic.  

You were making notes for the call you had scheduled with the client you heard was in the market for your services.  You heard the client was leaving the country tomorrow so you really needed to get together before it was too late and your competitor got to her.  

You knew you needed to do this but you were a little nervous; it was a lot more fun to chase down 6-ft away guy’s e-mail and run to your boss’s meeting.  No time now; guess she’ll have to wait.  Maybe you’ll send her an e-mail?  You jumped up to make a dash for your meeting and felt your front pocket…

Dang it! Where’s your pen?  

A feeling of endless overwhelm began to creep in.  You’re busier than you’ve ever been but can’t seem to show anything for all your effort.  You know deep down you're avoiding that call.  You're not prepared; you haven't had time to prepare - you're too busy!  Busyness is a form of laziness.

so you're lazy...or are you?

Everyone is busy these days, but not everyone is getting things done.  If you feel like you can’t squeeze another minute into your schedule you're probably just as busy as you think you are; but are you lazy?

Stupid e-mails and spontaneous meetings are relatively mindless activities that you may be substituting for the high value work (like that critical call).  You may not even realize you’re playing shenanigans with yourself.  If you feel like the busiest office worker on the floor, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. do I work extra hours because there’s not enough time to keep up?

  2. am I staying on top of e-mail but avoiding something important?

  3. do I feel extremely busy but end the day without feeling accomplished?

If so, you’re not alone.  This is the first of a four-part blog series on busyness vs. laziness.  From mindless e-mail to useless meetings, over the next four weeks we’ll explore some of the hardest hitting time-wasters in the industry and strategies to avoid their pitfalls.  In the meantime please leave a comment below, “how do you fare with your busy lifestyle?”

Is Your Busyness a Form of Laziness?  Continue Reading this Series at: