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How busyness leads to bad decisions

Time Scarcity

A scarcity mindset, the feeling that we have less time, is the same as having less money.

We don't have space, the peace or the mental clarity to do what's right or important, so we end up doing what's urgent and stay trapped in the tunnel.

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How busyness leads to bad decisions

How busyness leads to bad decisions

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20191202-how-time-scarcity-makes-us-focus-on-low-value-tasks

bbc.com

7

Key Ideas

Chronically Busy

Normally, people who are busy and stressed out on constant work, eradicate their work-life balance by bringing work home or worrying about unfinished work too much, leading to stress.

Chronically busy people feel pressed for time and are stressed out, narrowing their attention and cognitive bandwidth.

Tunnelling

When we are having a narrow cognitive bandwidth, it can help us hyper-focus but is also harmful.

Tunnelling can lead us to focus on the urgent but not so important tasks immediately in front of us, which at the end of the day isn't very productive.

Email as a Slot Machine

Email is the perfect addictive slot machine of our attention.

Our brain craves something new and likes being interrupted with some notification rather than focusing on one task continuously.

Email is pseudo work masquerading as real work and is not productive if handled all the time.

Sitting Idle

People love being busy and cannot sit idle. A study found people preferred giving themselves electric shocks rather than sitting idly all day.

Smoking, for example, is habit-forming due to the same reason, having something to do, instead of being idle.

Checking Email on Intervals

People who are checking their emails on a pre-set schedule are less stressed out than people in front of the inbox the whole day, replying to emails as they come, eventually increasing their incoming mails and avoiding real productive work.

Time Scarcity

A scarcity mindset, the feeling that we have less time, is the same as having less money.

We don't have space, the peace or the mental clarity to do what's right or important, so we end up doing what's urgent and stay trapped in the tunnel.

Less Time, More Focus

If we plan our limited time, taking care of focusing on productive work, rather than doing unproductive 'busy' work all the time, we end up being more accurate, and careful, leading to growth and real benefits of work.

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Busyness is a myth

Although people feel much busier with work these days, the total time people are working – whether paid or otherwise – has not increased in Europe or North America in recent decades.

The illusion of busyness is caused by:
  • Economies grow and time is more valuable: Any given hour is worth more, so we experience more pressure to squeeze in more work.
  • The type of work we do has changed: We live in an “infinite world" - more incoming emails, meetings, things to read, more ideas to follow up – and digital technology means you can easily crank through them. The result, inevitably, is feeling overwhelmed.
Busyness has become the indicator of status

Though historically, the ultimate symbol of wealth, achievement and social superiority was the freedom not to work. Now we measure our worth not by the results we achieve, but by how much of our time we spend doing things. 

Busy with meaningless stuff

We can all feel very busy, but despite all this bustle, we often don’t feel particularly productive from day to day and often let the "big stuff" go unattended.

If we want to take back contro...

What you're currently doing

The act of becoming aware of where your attention is focused helps you to direct your attention where you want it to be - on creating something significant.

Setting time aside

To learn to control your attention, set aside at least one time period per day to focus without interruption. Let it be no more than 90 minutes at a time. Do something important but not urgent.

Ask yourself: Are you scheduling time daily to focus without interruption?

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The urgency bias
The urgency bias

We usually give priority to unimportant tasks when there is a sense of urgency around them.

We’re actually psychologically wired to put aside important tasks in favor of ta...

Why it’s hard to ignore urgent tasks

A few explanations as to why it’s so hard to reject urgent tasks:

  • The completion bias. Our brains crave the reward we get from checking off small to-dos from our list.
  • Tunnel vision: When we get overwhelmed by the things we have to do, we choose to act on those most available to us; these are usually emails, calls, meetings, and other low-friction tasks.
Urgency puts us into reactive mode

The problem is that we’re continually bombarded with urgent work: emails, meetings, calls, and instead of being in control of our time and attention, we respond and act on someone else’s priorities.

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