Ask the average worker and he or she would probably say that his or her work day is full of tasks. We are busy! We have lots and lots to do and seldom do we have enough time to do it all in. What can bog down the work day, however, is a lack of prioritizing those tasks. We can actually fill our work hours with all sort of busy work and busy tasks that do not actually accomplish real work.
Remember the elementary school days? How much time did we all spend doing “busy work?” Reams of worksheets and little tasks and projects that ate up time and allowed the teacher to focus on small group teaching or take care of tasks of her own? Most of us have learned the lessons of busywork well and have carried it over into our work world. We can fill the day with cluttered little tasks — checking email, sorting files, stacking and restacking and sorting and shifting’ — instead of streamlining our work to tasks that produce.
Busy work is NOT new, although access to the internet and online social networking, as well as texting, cell phones and other distractions may have brought busywork to an entire new level in the work place. We can spend HOURS of our day just trying to “stay on top” of all the emails, messages, and such that come in our direction. Additionally, many of us can create files, forms, charts and other things that are more “about” work than are actually productive work themselves.
Take stock in what you actually DO during the course of a work day and rate those activities in terms of how necessary and productive they are. Be brutally honest with yourself as you evaluate usefulness. Chances are, you will find that you need to clear out the clutter of the “busy work” to make room for prioritizing the work that gets results.