Optimal busyness, too good to be true
Long hours, full agenda, heavy workload – this seems to be the new norm. And one you feel satisfied with, since you feel energized and productive when work is intense. Yet “optimal busyness” is not without risks.
Just like Goldilocks choosing the “just right” option, neither too hot nor too cold, you like to think a certain amount of busyness is optimal. Without deadlines, you feel bored, too much pressure and you cave in, but if (over)busy with a large amount of work, you feel a boost of energy. That’s what researchers have termed “optimal busyness”. But is there really a happy medium?
The idea of an optimum of busyness is attractive, because it leads you to believe you can control the time constraints of work. In fact, organizational controls structure and rarefy time, for example by encouraging individuals to organize their schedule in billable hours, or by imposing short deadlines to maintain a feeling of urgency. Inevitably, you wind up working more than you should. And you can’t help preferring busy periods over calm periods, even when your work-life balance suffers. Watch out, the risk is overwork.
“À la recherche d’une “agitation” optimale : comment la recherche de la productivité peut conduire à une surcharge de travail”
by Iona Lupu, (Essec Knowledge, february 2022).
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