Busyness is a major problem in business. Everyone is busy. Oddly, we also have a problem of conservatism and lack of ambition. Everyone is busy playing it safe and fulfilling the routine tasks that always accumulate. The result is a massive waste of human potential.
We need to be less busy and be more bold.
It’s not hard to be busy. Everyone is busy. The workload is everywhere. Modern communications generates volumes of information and an urgency of response. Many of these communications by social platform, instant message or email are social filler or merely procedural.
We can now bring people together from around the world at a moments notice. Meetings can take up the whole day. Badly run meetings waste enormous amounts of valuable work time.
Broken processes proliferate and people continue to execute them. The work and the fixes pile up making more busy work for everyone addressing the resulting issues.
Without clarity of what is important and what is merely urgent we can feel like we are failing to keep up. The psychological stress of falling behind on all the repetitive low value work is huge. That stress also makes people more likely to be risk averse. If you are already behind, why would you take on new risky tasks. We miss the chance to do more with our human potential and to reap the rewards in personal and organisational value.
We are also falling into the trap of making our work easier to eliminate. If we spend all our days on busy tasks, we aren’t delivering our human potential. It is easy for people to see that work as better automated. Robots don’t have to fall behind. They can do the busy work scalably.
Many people see the path to success as having a perfect strike rate. If they are 100% successful, then they will be rewarded. That’s not how it works. To be 100% successful you have to focus on the sure thing, the low value tasks and you will be working as one of the undifferentiated mass of qualified candidates. The differentiation that delivers success comes from taking the risky shot.
What would really happen if you didn’t reply to every email? If the initial email was better dealt with another way, replying only compounds the issues. Take another approach. Release your time to do better. Have the risky conversation that helps you and others to do better.
What would happen if you walked out of wasteful meetings to do better work? Sitting there only increases the pressure on everyone else to remain. Send a signal that you value your time and are making better decisions. Risk offending the meeting organiser to save everyone time and create value.
What would happen if you challenged or changed a broken process? Some times all it takes is one voice to highlight an issue and remove the work and rework with a simple fix.
If you know you can succeed on every task you are doing, why are you doing them? The greatest value in life comes from and with risk. Delegate or reassign or stop tasks that are inevitable successes for you. Give them to someone for whom they represent a challenge and an opportunity to learn. Take on a task that has a chance of failure instead. Risk failure to do something that others think can’t be done.
If these simple changes are too hard for you in your current role, is it time to change to something newer and riskier? Find a role that enables you to develop your potential through new and challenging work. Risk taking your talents to market if they are being wasted.
Your personal growth and greatest personal reward comes from being bold with your talents and capabilities. Conservatism and busyness will consume your life.