Being Busy Is Not A Status Symbol

Recently I have been working alongside a company that have a really pronounced culture… they are all so busy! Everyone was stressed, tired-out and has loads on. It was effectively a status symbol. If you were busy, you were important.

At first I was shocked, but thinking about it, this is a common factor in all our work lives – consider your place of work – I bet being busy is a part of your companies culture!

So that begs the question – Who on earth decided that being busy was a good way to spend our lives?

It is almost as though it is ‘cool’ to be busy… it is almost as though, the only way you can be important or good is by being a tremendously busy person.

We wear our busy schedules like a badge of honour.

Somebody, somewhere decided that being busy is the critical factor in being important and everyone has jumped on the bandwagon without even considering the alternative.

What is being busy? Here are a few synonyms:

employed in, working at, labouring at, toiling at, slaving at, hard at work (on), rushed off one’s feet (with), hard-pressed, time-poor; at work (on), on the job, hard at it.

Being busy doesn’t inspire does it?

Toiling, slaving and being rushed off one’s feet doesn’t provide a compelling argument why we should make this a part of our lives… In fact we should avoid this at all costs!

If you are busy all the time, there is a high possibility your work-life balance is out of kilter and your overall effectiveness is suffering.

No company realistically wants their employees to have a poor work-life balance and produce shoddy work… that is a business plan that will NEVER work!

No employee should ever have to sacrifice their personal time for work… trust me, at the end of your life, you will not wish you had worked more!! 

So, why do we attach status to being busy? Logically it makes no sense.


How about being productive instead?

Synonyms of being productive:

prolific, inventive, creative; dynamic, energetic, vigorous, effective,

useful, constructive, profitable, fruitful, gainful, valuable, effective, worthwhile, beneficial, helpful, rewarding, gratifying

Now this is a bit more exciting and appealing… this describes a great company to work for… this describes a person who is successful and going places.

It doesn’t mean they don’t work hard – They just work hard on the important factors that generate the biggest and best results. They stop rushing around doing everything to a mediocre level and focus in on critical activities at an elite level.

The choice is yours: Productive or Busy.

My advice? Don’t succumb to the lure of being busy… it is a fool’s errand.

Instead aspire to be productive. If you are a leader, create time to think and space to be creative for your teams. If you are an up and coming employee, understand that delivering valuable, worthwhile and effective work is precious in business and critical in leading a fulfilled life.

The next time someone asks you how you are… think twice about saying “I’m busy!”

9 thoughts on “Being Busy Is Not A Status Symbol

      1. Indeed! In my case, I signed up for “busy” imagining the trade off would be guaranteed success. How could a person giving so much not skyrocket to the top was my mode of thinking. The only part of skyrocket I managed to reach was the rock part…totally missing the sky heading straight to rock-bottom instead.

        Thanks for your note about my site, I wonder sometimes if anyone besides my family members enjoy it. 😉


  1. Great post Dax. The ‘must be seen to be busy’ culture is sadly alive and kicking in many organisations. Too many are focussed on being on time (often to an un-required, self inflicted deadline) rather than on quality – your customer will remember the poor quality far longer than you being a day late to a timescale they didn’t ask for!

    Liked by 1 person

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