Welcome to the 'Busy Olympics' 🥇

The pandemic hasn't stopped competitive busy-ness

“I’m just so busy”

“Tell me about it, I’ve been at the office since 6 am and I won’t be finishing ‘til late”

“Me too, I slept here last night.”

Okay so, maybe that last one was a bit farfetched but the principle remains true: competitive busy-ness is still a problem, even in a during a global pandemic.

I first encountered this concept when I started working in a junior PR role at a North-East PLC. The PR department was me and the PR manager, who worked part-time, so I had to mix with other departments to make friends. One thing rang true whichever department I hung out with… they are all so busy - and so tired and stressed as a result.

At first, I thought maybe I had started the role during a particularly busy time of year, but soon it became obvious that everyone was just preparing for the busy-ness Olympics.

The 500m Whinge

Coming up first, this battle of the down-trodden and poorly paid service agents is a highly competitive one. Remember, try not to ask the participants inane questions like “how are you?” or you'll be hit with a barrage of complaints.

The Clock-Watching Relay

Known for their precision, these guys come into form every morning at 8.45 and every afternoon at 4.59. Dare to leave the office a 5pm on the dot and you’ll fall victim to their tuts and judging glares.

The Manager Marathon

In arguably the most tedious event of the day, managers will race to the door to avoid any sort of staff confrontation, extra points if they dodge phone calls and emails that will allow the team to do their jobs easier and more efficiently.

The Serial Flakers

These guys are the top busy-ness experts in their field. They are so busy, in fact, that they drop out of just about every social event or extra-curricular activity because they are simply overflowing with 1,000,000 emails in their inbox and their phone never stops ringing.


To bring this week’s newsletter back into a slightly more serious frame of mind, competitive busy-ness is a real issue for workers in all sorts of roles. Sometimes people really are too busy because companies have them juggling a task-list suitable for three people, while other workers believe that hamming up the busy-ness will save them from the chopping block on the next round of redundancies. And then finally, you have those people who attach moral value to being busy and, without that constant hustle, they might lack the motivation or even reason to keep going.

This takes us back to a topic I’ve been highly critical of in the past - hustle culture. It’s one thing when you get your self worth from chasing the next big thing, but it’s another when you make others feel bad for not living up to these unattainable standards.

Being busy is often unavoidable in today’s society - especially in the pandemic age where boundaries are blurred between home/work and there is little else to do right now. But when you start to judge yourself (and others) on how busy they are (and how they process it), then you know something’s not right.

Did I miss any competitive busy-ness sports? Let me know on Twitter @ContentByTheSea


🎨 📚 ✨I am spending most of my evenings cooking, painting and reading at the moment so there’s not a lot to share. I’m in a bit of a slump (something to do with lockdown #2 and a super busy workload - oh wait, I’m doing it, aren’t I?) so TV, film, book recommendations are highly appreciated at this time!

🎙 If you’re reading this on Wednesday 25th, then there is still time to sign up to the North East Expo and attend my workshop today at 12. I'm talking all about creating content for LinkedIn! Click here to sign up - it’s free.


And that’s it from me! If you enjoyed this newsletter, why not forward it onto your office clockwatcher? See you next week!

Ellen x

Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:

18 November: Too many cooks spoil the brother (and the marketing campaign)

11 November: Everything is different now, so why are you trying to live like before?

4 November: Lockdown Part II: Here's my manifesto 📜

28 October: Why business owners don't talk about depression

21 October: How to actually stick to something (and why it’s okay if you don’t)

14 October: Meet the bosses who shaped me

6 October: Running a business when you're sensitive AF

30 September - Let them eat lockdown layer cake 🍰