Work Traits

The Need to be Busy and Occupied

The Need to be Busy and Occupied

This motivation is especially helpful in high-demand roles or industries where there’s constantly something to be done and very little time to rest.
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What is the need to be busy and occupied?

You don’t let any grass grow under your feet. You like to be constantly busy and engaged in tasks, conversations, and other business functions. You don’t like being idle and would much rather be working on something.

You’re always on the move and like to jump immediately to the next task, project, or objective. Your team perceives you as helpful, busy, and active.

However, your affinity for activity means you don’t leave yourself much time to rest, recharge, and recover. If you’re not careful, it can lead to exhaustion and burnout.

In F4S: Activity

In F4S: Activity

Your level of motivation to keep active and keep busy at work and in business.

Your level of motivation to keep active and keep busy at work and in business.

Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.

Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball

Leaders who have the need to be busy and occupied

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon, and the richest person in the world. You can bet he didn’t achieve that without filling up his calendar with endless obligations and objectives. Fortunately, Bezos likes to be busy and has always had a relentless work ethic.

In fact, in an article for the Wall Street Journal authored by Richard L. Brandt, the early days of Amazon were described as “12-hour days, seven days a week.” Bezos even set up a competition for customer service managers to see who could clear out the most unanswered emails.

Bezos is tireless. But, it’s his drive to be busy that has made him as successful as he is.

Indra Nooyi

Before she was the former CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi was a college student at Yale, doing whatever she could to stay afloat. She reportedly worked an overnight shift as a receptionist in order to pay her way through school.

She kept that hustle mentality as she entered her career, and even in her role at Pepsi. In fact, she freely admits that she thrives on being busy.

“I struggle to sleep, so all night the emails ping, and I’ll get up every hour and answer,” she said in an interview, reported by The Economic Times. “There are people who thrive on it, and people who struggle with it. I thrive on it still.”

Mark Cuban

Self-made billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, likes to stay busy. And, he credits his constant motivation for activity and his work ethic with his success. 

In a post published to his own blog, he wrote that he would often stay up until the wee hours of the morning reading about software. Even more than that, he didn’t take a vacation for seven years while building his first business.

Needless to say, Cuban didn’t give himself pauses to recharge and reset. Instead, he prefers to move right into the next thing.

The benefits of the need to be busy and occupied

Productivity

When you’re in constant motion, you’re able to get a lot done. You don’t need breaks, and are able to produce at a rapid rate.

Creativity

When you’re busy with the right activities (and not just staying busy to avoid bigger issues), you can actually boost your own levels of creativity.

Mindfulness

Wholeheartedly throwing yourself into a task keeps you focused on the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

The blind spots of the need to be busy and occupied

Burnout

Everybody needs the occasional break. Constantly burning the candle at both ends can lead to exhaustion and burnout.

Perspective

When you don’t give yourself time to pause and reflect, you can fall into the trap of being busy for busy’s sake. You might channel time and energy into tasks that aren’t important or beneficial.

Frustration

Not everybody on your team shares your same affinity for activity. Your tireless motion can cause frustration among your team members who just want to take a beat.

How to build the need to be busy and occupied

1) Keep yourself in check.

Wanting to boost your own level of action and productivity is a great goal. But, you don’t want to cram your schedule full of unimportant tasks—that will only lead to burnout and won’t help you achieve your most important goals.

Make sure you’re trying to build this skill for the right reasons and that you’re focusing on the right to-dos. That will make your constant activity an advantage, rather than a draining drawback.

2) Make a list.

Oftentimes, we’re unable to jump into the next activity because we don’t actually know what we should be doing next.

Jot down a list of tasks and priorities and then store it somewhere handy. That will serve as your roadmap when you finish something up and need another task to start. You won’t have to spend time wondering what you should tackle now.

3) Batch your tasks.

You don’t just want to be busy—you want to be efficient. Batching your tasks (meaning, grouping similar to-do’s together) can help you with this.

Maybe you’ll start your day by reading and answering all your emails. Then you’ll move into preparing for your upcoming meetings. Putting these tasks together all in one time block is a more effective use of your time and your mental resources.

4) Create a schedule.

One surefire way to make sure you aren’t wasting time is by scheduling out your workday and workweek. Get as detailed as you can, and assign specific tasks and projects to certain times of the day.

This will keep you focused on what you need to be doing when, and reduce your opportunities to kick back and waste time.

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