Busywork Is Killing Your Productivity, and Health

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You don’t know this, but busywork is killing your productivity.

You are trapped in a hole of your own creation.

You are holding yourself hostage and keeping success and happiness at bay.

You may think you’re doing great and making progress towards your goals. But in reality, all those hours you’re clocking in are being wasted.

You fell into the trap of busywork.

And today, I’m going to show you how you got yourself there, why you didn’t even notice the walls closing in around you, and how you can pull yourself out.

It’s storytime, baby. 

Let’s go.

This post is an excerpt of a video I published on my channel. Please share it and consider checking my other work on YouTube HERE if you like this content.

Dreaming Big

When I came to Japan, I had many dreams in my pocket. 

One of those dreams was to one day become a published writer and have my novels on shelves worldwide.

I know. Go big or go home, right?

But I was a young engineer from a small island coming to Japan. My little world was suddenly exploding, and with it, my courage to believe that my dreams were possible.

IMG 1905
Good times

So, I started where it made the most sense to me. 

I created this to develop my writing skills.

The Hustle

The first few months were surprisingly challenging. 

I spend days learning about hosting services, SEO, image compression, research sources, analytics, posting schedules, optimal post length, font readability…

It was a real hassle, but after many sleepless nights and frustrating mornings, the website was up.

But then, I realized that, hey, nobody will come to my blog unless I portray myself as a relatable yet knowledgeable person with lots of experience and a fun sense of humor.

So I meticulously crafted a bio and a welcome page to convince even my middle school bully that I was the most interesting kid in school. 

It was cathartic.

And so, I was good.

Except, no, I wasn’t. 

I didn’t optimize my website for SEO, and the overlords at Google had just deemed the mobile experience “poor.”

How shameful.

So, I set myself to dive deep into the backbones of the website and correct the issues. 

I tweaked the code and ran diagnostics. I got in calls with the support team. I learned about accessibility features, color contrast, and other stuff I had never heard of before.

The Long Wait

The struggle was long and painful. But knowing that I was putting so much work and effort into my goals made it feel worth it. That sensation of accomplishment was what got me out of bed on those 18 hour-long coding sprints.

And one day, I finally did it. 

All the issues went away. 

I felt so satisfied, and now it was just a matter of waiting for the readers to come.

Just wait.

And wait…

But the readers never came. 

I was baffled. 

I had put so much work and effort into making the website as perfect as I could. 

It was elegant and professional. It had my personality and charm plastered all over. It even scored in the high 90’s on the Google score.

I just couldn’t understand.

Or so I was telling myself. But the reality is that I knew precisely why no readers came.

In Hindsight…

This is what falling into the trap of busywork looks like.

I was trapped in the busywork hole, entertaining myself with irrelevant stuff so that I could ignore the essential work and still feel productive.

Why Do We Fall Into The Trap of Busywork?

Now, why do so many people, me included, fall into the trap of busywork?

Honestly, it’s because working more feels easier and more rewarding than working better. And doing familiar things is just more comfortable.

The Trap of Busywork
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

I was concerned with work that didn’t impact my readership because it was easier for me as an engineer to focus on things that I was comfortable with and could tackle easily instead of working on the flaws and gaps in my strategy and content.

And in my desperation to stand out and catch up, I resorted to exploiting myself to keep that feeling of productivity and momentum going.

What Productivity Isn’t

And the idea of productivity is the main issue here because this is why you might be telling yourself that doing crazy 18 hour-long workdays will make you successful.

Productivity is not directly correlated to the amount of work or time you put into something. Instead, it hinges on how well you use your time. 

What Productivity Isn't
Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

Putting more time into your work doesn’t make you more productive; it makes you more prone to burnout.

The 80/20 Rule

There’s an aphorism that is really relevant to this conversation called the 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Principle. It states that 80% of the output comes from just 20% of the input.

What this means is that 20% of the work needed for a goal to be completed will get you 80% there. This 20% is the essential work, with which the goal will never be accomplished.

Unfortunately, you might be falling into this trap without realizing it because this 80% always looks like the easiest stuff to tackle.

In my case, my blog posts were this 20% of work that I never tackled. Yet, I was so entertained with the additional 80%, which ended up taking so much time and effort, that I didn’t think about the writing part. Sadly, this 80% didn’t add much to my goal of having a successful blog.

How To Stop Doing Busywork

Alright, so what can you do to get yourself out of this situation and never fall prey to this trap?

Well, the first thing to do is to be aware that there is a problem. And the good news is that you have learned a lot already by just reading this article.

Knowing that productivity is not the same as busywork and that long- hours of work don’t guarantee success already puts you in a great position to tackle your goals.

Additionally, as a rule of thumb, always tackle the absolutely essential tasks first, even if they are the things you have the least experience with or feel uncomfortable with them now. 

Remember that you can always ask for help. And once these challenges are out of the way, what’s left is a breeze.

Finally, trust the process of growth

If you feel driven to put lots of effort into work because you feel behind, remember that everybody is on their journey and developing yourself takes time. 

Don't fall prey of busywork
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

We shouldn’t exchange our precious time to hide our lack of skills. Invest that time into developing them instead.

Busywork Is Killing Your Productivity

Here’s the hard truth. Spending lots of time doing things that don’t really add much to the outcome of your goals is a form of procrastination

If you struggle with procrastination and have a hard time breaking big tasks into actionable steps, you might be falling into the trap of busywork. And that might be sabotaging your chances of success.

Navigating these issues can be tricky when you already struggle with self-doubt and insecurity.

If you are struggling with any of these, I prepared this video just for you.

Cover Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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Juan
From early on in his life, Juan knew he was destined for greatness —and then proceeded to waste his time watching YouTube. A talented tech/random fact expert who refuses to let fear get in the way of his self-development. You can count on Juan to show up as a natural-born leader, funny man, and loving friend.

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