Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

The Seduction of Being 'Busy'

ARCHIVES
Image via Strejman/Shutterstock.com

My husband is tired of hearing me say “I’m so busy.”  I’m tired of hearing me say it too. 

Often, I talk about this overwhelm as if I’m the busiest person around.  Truth is, I don’t know anyone who isn’t busy.  Perhaps this is the new world order for those of us who frequent sites like Excellence in Government (i.e. there aren’t many organic farmers reading these posts...).

So what’s up with all the busyness? Americans are some of the busiest people around—and we tend to be proud of that. Studies have shown that:

And that's just a sampling of how "busy" we are. There's a depressingly large amount of social science on the matter.

What Can You Do?

I’ve tried to tackle my busyness with myriad techniques, tools and tricks. The funny thing is, they result in MORE work, not less (you've no doubt heard some variation of the fact that 23 percent of people who make to-do lists spend more time making said lists than doing the tasks on them).  

Personally, I am really good at being "busy." I'm a busyness machine--like an out of control printer spitting out print job after print job after print job – occasionally taking a forced pause to have my toner refilled.  Then back to cranking out the rest of the queue.

Powering through to get it all done, I've grown to realize, isn’t working.  The destiny of "done" or being "complete" doesn’t really exist in our knowledge economy.  That was a post-industrial trapping that is forever buried beneath the unstoppable and unconscious course we’ve charted toward the seduction of eternal busyness

So, I decided to try a different approach.  STOP.  No tricks, no games. Just stop. Stop responding and doing and calling and emailing and being busy!  In other words: In order to stop being busy, I had to stop being busy. 

I had to let go of the fear that I was going to miss something or drop balls.  Is it possible in the age of the 24/7 real-time enterprise and constant onslaught of communication to get everything and miss nothing? No way.  And should we try, then the best we can ever do is simply keep up. And that, my friends, is impossible. 

So, this holiday weekend I’m stopping.  The busyness will be waiting for me next week. For now, it's time to simply stop.

Sarah Agan is a regular contributor to Excellence in Government. She has spent the past 17 years working with clients across the federal government with a focus on helping individuals and organizations thrive.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.