Are you moving fast, in the wrong direction?

Busywork is the equivalent to being lost on your way to a new city. Driving faster doesn’t help if you are going in the wrong direction. Busywork is anything that keeps you moving, engaged and distracted from where you really want to go. It feels like real work, but your focus is fuzzy and your priorities are forgotten.

It feels like you’re going in circles

Do you ever feel like you’re running around and staying busy but never really see the fruits of your labor? If so, you’ve probably hitched a ride on the busywork merry-go-round and once you’re on, you’re not sure how to safely hop off. You want to get off because your head is spinning and your tummy is upset.

Take a deep breath, count to 4 and refocus…

4 opportunities to jump off the busywork merry-go-round

Use your mornings wisely

Start your day off on the right foot. What you do in the morning will set the pace for the rest of the day. Not everyone is a ‘morning person’, so take the time to establish a morning routine that nurtures and supports you. Give yourself plenty of time to wake up, take care of yourself and put your best foot forward.

Give yourself at least one entire hour of awake time before hopping on social media or checking emails. Nothing will get you sucked into busywork like someone else’s agenda, and your phone is filled with other people’s requests and demands on your time.

Ditch the to-do list

I’m a list maker, but the traditional to-do list can include tons of unnecessary, busywork. Years ago, my personal to-do list was a mile-long reminder of all the things I did not get done. Task lists can be helpful if they include your priorities.  A to-do list usually includes other people’s priorities and expectations.

Instead of a to-do list, make a TaDa list. Give yourself permission to delete and delegate anything that is not inline with your personal priorities and values.

Focus on one task at a time

I feel like there have been more conversations around the disadvantages of multi-tasking, but lots and lots of people still do it. We used to believe that multitaskers are more efficient and effective than people who only complete one task at a time. We are learning that this is far from true. The American Psychological Association says “switching” costs can decrease efficiency by as much as 40 percent. Focusing on one task at a time is actually much 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. (Confession: I struggle with this one…I am currently editing this article for the umpteenth time).

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. Balance doesn’t mean giving the same amount of attention to everything at the same time. It means focusing on what’s important to you, right here and now.

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