Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Busywork, as opposed to busy AT work, is a habit that all supervisors, and all employees, should watch out for. Yes, I've fallen victim to it just as much as the next guy. And I tell you what - at the end of the day I feel like I've just wasted 8 hours of my life or someone elses.

Merriam-Webster defines busywork as: "work that usually appears productive or of intrinsic value but actually only keeps one occupied". Busywork is when you feel as if the work you're doing is useless or unproductive. It's usually done just to occupy time.

In a lot of jobs there's often a higher focus on activity rather than results. Giving people menial tasks to perform only bores people and actually causes them discomfort in their job. If you're giving people things to do just so they have "things to do", chances are they see that and probably feel less than essential. Supervisors will give employees things to do in order to keep them occupied so they themselves can concentrate on other things and not be bothered. I've seen this type of busywork backfire many times. The employee sees exactly what the supervisor is doing so he/she gets the work done as quickly as possible so the supervisor has to keep coming up with more "things to do". Talk about a time waster.

If you're in a position where employees are often needing additional tasks, do them - and yourself - a big favor. Make up a list ahead of time and constantly keep it updated. Put some some thought into it and come up with some "busywork" that actually adds value to the day/business/organization. Not only will the employee feel better about their job and their worth, but you'll feel that much more successful yourself.

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