As kids, we used to do the one-ups:  “Yah, my mom’s smarter and prettier than yours.”  The retort:   “Well, my mom has a Ph.D. and is a university professor.”

Things haven’t changed much in all those years.

These days, it’s all about being busy, a status symbol if ever we nailed one.  “I’ve got to fly to Jakarta, deliver a presentation, then work with a client in London.”  Or:  “The CEO asked me to work with him on a series of U.S. and Latin America site visits as well as filming those conversations for significant investors, turning it into a roadshow.”

Hard to beat, eh?  Problem is, it’s contagious, darned inefficient, and a barrier to real communications and effectiveness.  Because the “gotta be busy” syndrome stems from times of economic uncertainty, bosses who value hours above real thinking, and/or a psychological need to be important.

Sure.  The kinds of businesses we practice – from communications and design to marketing and branding – are filled with last-minute deadlines and client demands.  So it’s natural to bristle and state that you manage your schedules well, thank you very much.

Let us just point out one study.  At the Pentagon.  Some years back, they discovered that working hard wasn’t netting them the desired results.  The generals then mandated alternative work schedules and flex work policies.  Guess what?   Work quality improved; sharper thinking ensued.

So as masters of the [communications] universe, look around your shop, your office, your team.  Measure quality and productivity, along with sick days and goals.  Then tell us if Uncle Sam knows best.