Less Time, More Focus - Deepstash

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How busyness leads to bad decisions

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. 

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.

Social Comparison Theory

Psychology Today describes social comparison theory as, "... determining our own social and personal self-worth based on how we stack up against others we perceive as somehow faring better or worse...

What Others Think of Us

As a human being interacting with other human beings, we learn that how we show up in the world seems to matter. 

If we have learned through our own social experiences that certain patterns of behavior, such as being extraordinarily busy and constantly on-the-go lead to being successful, connected and accepted by others, then we may find it appealing to engage in those behaviors.

Busy vs. Productive

Merriam-Webster defines the word productive as, "Yielding results, benefits or profits." Essentially, it means that we have something to show for our hard work. 

Being busy has to do with an amount of time, where productivity has more to do with our use of time.