How to Break Free from the Career Busyness Trap

May 15th, 2015

There’s business – and then there’s busy-ness.

Achieving goals, building productivity, innovating, making progress every day on the job and inciting others to do the same: That’s good business. But tricking yourself into believing how overly busy you are and not accomplishing your objectives can be a sign of a busyness trap. And it’s not one you want to slip into, at least not if you want to keep your career on track.

A New – Potentially Fatal – Normal

Have you ever had a day (or week, month or year) when you constantly lament how swamped with work you are – and yet you manage to find time to follow friends on Twitter and keep up to date on your Facebook friends? Perhaps you can no longer meet deadlines at work, but spend hours planning your next vacation or shopping online for the perfect pair of shoes or coffeemaker.

If these scenarios sound uncomfortably familiar, you may have inadvertently entered the Career Busyness Zone. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Our culture of busyness has lured us into the concept that being overly busy is a good thing. In fact, those who aren’t swamped 24/7 are held at a lower status as a result. Not fair, not fun, but it’s the way of the world, circa 2015.

Protect Your Career

Faced with intense market pressure, companies often take on more than they can handle. They accelerate the number and speed of their activities, raise their performance bars, and shorten project schedules. Employees start to run like hamsters on their wheels. This whirling dervish naturally spills over – and employees adopt a frenetic pace in all their activities.

  • In a recent survey, more than 50 percent of companies reported that they were affected by this busyness trap. At these firms, 80 percent of employees said they were under constant time pressure and 75 percent said their company priorities changed frequently. Again, these factors tend to translate into other areas of life, outside of work responsibilities.
  • The more responsibilities you have, the more these traps should concern you. It’s critical to avoid them and in doing so, protect your career and your ability to be effective.

The Cost of Busyness

Busyness not only hurts you, but it also can negatively impact the progress of your organization. The costs associated with false busyness include:

  • Lost productivity: You may be busy all the time, but it’s very different from being productive. Alleviate this by taking small, sanctioned breaks to do whatever you want: surf the Internet, take a walk, listen to music, read or meditate. Then, when it’s time to return to work, do just that. Separate work from leisure.
  • Stress: If you fall into the false busyness rabbit hole, you’ll get so far behind in your work that you won’t even know what hit you. Avoid this by setting small, interim deadlines on projects that feel overwhelming. Make sure these interim goals are measurable, achievable and results-oriented. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

Do you feel as though you need to get your career back on track? Perhaps the answer is looking for growth within your current organization – or seeking a new opportunity that takes your career to the next level. Consider partnering with an expert career coach from Select Group, Inc. Access our extensive job database and benefit from our experience, market intelligence and robust network. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

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