Avoid the Busywork Trap ~ Tips from Cloud Nine Organizing

The Busywork Vortex

At the end of the day, are you exhausted? Have you been running around and staying busy but can’t see the fruits of your labor?

If so, you’ve probably been sucked into the dreaded Busywork Vortex. This frustrating trap can be hard to escape. Especially if you don’t even realize that’s where you’ve landed.

What is busywork, exactly?

Busywork is anything that keeps you moving, engaged and distracted from your real work. Busywork feels like real work, but it gives you no beneficial or profitable outcomes. Engaging in busywork means you have gotten off track and might need to reorganize your priorities.

Here are 4 ways to get those priorities reorganized and back on track.

Use your mornings wisely.

Start your day off on the right foot. What you do in the mornings will set the pace for the rest of the day. Even if it’s painful, get out of bed early! Not everyone is a “morning person”, but some of your best, most productive and creative work can occur when the day is fresh and new. Avoid social media and emails so you can knock out most of your challenging tasks in the morning when your brain is alert and awake. OK – Maybe have a cup of coffee first.

Don’t use a to-do list.

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but having a to-do list usually adds unnecessary tasks to your day. My own to-do list used to be a mile-long reminder of things I “had to do” for other people. Things they were capable of doing themselves. I also had “obligations” that I didn’t enjoy doing. These are unnecessary, unproductive, busywork tasks. Learn to delete and delegate those tasks. Go from To-Do to TaDa!

Focus on one task at a time.

We tend to believe that people who multitask are efficient and effective. They can complete multiple tasks in the same amount of time when other people can only complete one task. Not true. The American Psychological Association says there is something called “switching” costs that can cost multi-taskers as much as 40 percent of their productive time. Focusing on one task at a time is actually more efficient.

Move on.

When you have finished a task or project, move on to something else. Don’t drive yourself crazy with being perfect. It’s a waste of time and creates more busywork. Nothing is perfect. Nothing. If you are obsessing about how to make a project better, hire someone else to help you so you can move on to more important things. Hiring an expert to review your work might give you a sense of completion and peace of mind.

Being busy doesn’t always mean you’re being efficient or effective. Try to find a good balance in your busy day. Only work on what is important to you because it’s a great feeling to see the fruits of your labor at the end of a productive day!


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