My Java Journal

On Productivity: Managing Busy As Normal Returns


“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates


Busy does not equate to productivity. Being productive sometimes requires busy, but busy on its own does not mean you are productive.

The Good

We’ve gotten a taste of this reality with the slow-down from COVID-19 when we were forced to isolate. Without being busy it remained possible to be productive, just, perhaps, in different ways and with other things. In some instances, we may have became more productive.

The chaos of rushed morning routines; the bathroom fights, lunch preparations, and the logistics around kids’ activities, and social commitments all but disappeared.

Replacing it was the ability to focus on things like health, family time, and creativity. Certainly, rest gave us a needed break, and suppressed passions emerged. Naps and walks, sitting in the sun and quiet reflection became accessible in the white spaces of the daily routine. Indeed, an opportunity to focus and reflect on priority presented itself, consequently allowing for our efforts to be redirected towards the things we want to do. Rather than that which we are told we need to do.

It has been refreshing, and necessary.

The Bad

We are starting to get busy again though. Working from home is, for some, seeing a return to 8, 10 and 12-hour workdays. It is harder to step away when work and home are the same. Email is again becoming master. Homework went from none, to a casual 3-hours a week, to a daily hours-long stress. New passions now compete with resumed pressures from work and school, hence when the morning chaos and old norms return there is likely to be more to keep us busy, not less.

We need to keep busy at bay. Fight to keep those passion projects, family time, and some of that white space in our day. Keep that ability to nap and read protected from busy. Busy is not productivity, but it can be the enemy of it.

If busy is already creeping in and we haven’t yet even seen the reintroduction of the morning chaos, lunches, after-school activities, and social commitments, then we will be right back where we were before the pandemic, maybe worse. The respite it offered us from busy will be gone.

The Alternative

“The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” – Henry Miller


Springtime miracle
Mysterious, Awesome, Magnificent


Let’s keep this in mind as busy starts to creep in again. Hold onto, for dear life, those passions you rediscovered, those naps and walks, and that ability to sit in the sun and relax. Give your attention fully to something wonderful; a blade of grass that is mysterious, awesome, and indescribably magnificent. Let the bullshit emails and chores fall away, or at least wait. If we let them take hold again, and dictate our priorities then we are no better off for this wonderful period of quiet. The circumstances, dire as they are, slowed us and can still create a positive outcome; if only we take control of busy.

I want to leave you with two quotes.

This first from one of the greatest, accomplished and productive minds in history,

 “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein

And this from a philosopher,

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Let’s not let it become complicated again. Instead, lets allow monotony, solitude and a quiet life stimulate our creative mind.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Be kind.

This is the final week for the Plank Challenge. Reach out and let me know how you did.

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