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Busyness vs Business: Activity vs Productivity

Written by: Babajide Familusi


Anyone who has tried to get a meeting with me recently knows I have been quite busy, but busy doing what?

I am a firm believer in being able to do all things, but I have told anyone who cares to know that you cannot do it all at the same time. Many boost their egos by being so busy that they almost brag about how hard they work, but as earlier established in one of my articles, hard work alone does not guarantee productivity.

In today’s fast-paced professional world, the culture of busyness reigns supreme. It is not uncommon to hear phrases like “I am swamped with work” or “I am buried in tasks” uttered in office corridors and virtual meetings. But amidst this whirlwind of activity, one question begs to be asked: Does being busy always equate to being productive in business?

Busyness, simply put, is the state of being occupied with various activities or tasks. It is the constant buzz of emails, meetings, and deadlines that fill our workdays. On the other hand, business refers to the organised effort of individuals to produce and sell goods or services for profit. It’s the overarching purpose behind our daily hustle -the reason we do what we do.

However, there is a prevalent misconception that busyness equals productivity in business. Many equate the sheer volume of tasks completed or hours worked with success, failing to recognise that true productivity is measured not by how busy we are, but by the impact and value we create.

As I take a closer look, it becomes evident that being constantly busy doesn’t necessarily translate to being effective in business. In fact, busyness can often be a symptom of poor time management, a lack of prioritisation, or inefficiencies in workflow. Consider the executive who spends hours answering emails but fails to address strategic priorities, or the manager who attends back-to-back meetings but neglects to delegate tasks effectively.

Successful entrepreneurs and business leaders understand this paradox all too well. They emphasise the importance of focus, delegation, and work-life balance over constant activity. Take the example of Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek”, who advocates for the elimination of busy work in favor of tasks that move the needle. By honing in on high-impact activities and leveraging time-saving tools, Ferriss demonstrates that productivity is not about how much we do but about what we accomplish.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that busyness can indeed be a sign of growth and progress in business when it is purposeful and aligned with strategic objectives. When we’re busy with meaningful tasks that contribute to long-term goals, our efforts translate into tangible results. Whether it’s launching a new product, expanding into new markets, or fostering innovation within the organization, strategic busyness fuels success.

To maximize the value of busyness, it’s crucial to align our activities with key business priorities. This means focusing on tasks that drive revenue, enhance customer satisfaction, or improve operational efficiency. By avoiding busy work that doesn’t add value and instead channeling our energy into activities that move the business forward, we ensure that our busyness is not in vain.

So how can business leaders overcome the trap of busyness and focus on meaningful work? The key lies in adopting effective time management techniques, delegation strategies, and regular reflection on priorities. By setting clear goals, establishing priorities, and ruthlessly eliminating distractions, we can reclaim control of our schedules and direct our efforts toward what truly matters.

Moreover, fostering a culture of efficiency, collaboration, and work-life balance within the organization is essential. Encouraging employees to prioritise tasks, delegate responsibilities, and maintain boundaries between work and personal life promotes overall well-being and productivity. When employees feel empowered to manage their time effectively and achieve work-life harmony, they become more engaged, motivated, and productive contributors to the business.

In conclusion, the busyness of business is a complex phenomenon that warrants careful consideration. While being busy may signal activity and engagement, it does not necessarily equate to productivity or success. By understanding the distinction between busyness and productive business activity, we can unlock our true potential and achieve meaningful results. As business leaders, we must reflect on our approach to work and strive to align our busyness with our business objectives. 

True business success comes not from being constantly busy, but from being purposefully productive in pursuit of meaningful goals. By embracing strategic busyness and prioritising what truly matters, we can chart a course toward lasting achievement and fulfillment in business and beyond.


Content provided by EiE Nigeria


 – Babajide Familusi is a Nigerian entrepreneur; Group Chief Executive at The FAB Group and Founder of Under 40 CEOs, a pan-African platform dedicated to fostering the growth of the African economy through the empowerment of young African business leaders.

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