The Busyness Paradox

The Busyness Paradox

The world of work is a world of paradox. In this podcast, we tackle your everyday workplace or office environment topics, challenges, or activities. We also discuss trends and strategy in business. Our end goal is to help managers stamp out bad practices and help employees deal with them. Drs. Frank Butler and Paul Harvey, two management professors, co-host this podcast. We encourage your participation in our podcast by asking questions or sharing your experiences with us.


November 15, 2023 88 mins

Live from the Southern Management Association conference in St. Pete Beach, FL, Frank and Paul interview Cornel University's Dr. Mike Lynn, arguably the world's foremost researcher on service tipping. We discuss the pros and cons of tipping as a form of compensation, demographic differences in tipping rates and, of course, the sudden proliferation of tipping into seemingly every facet of our lives.

If you'r...

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Fans of American College Football were recently treated to a baffling display of heroic determination. Needing only to touch a kneecap to a blade of grass to secure a hard fought victory, the University of Miami's gridiron team bravely stole defeat from the jaws of victory. How? With unnecessary busywork, of course.  

Come visit us at to see episode transcripts, blog posts and other content while you’re ther...

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Larry Thornton and Dave Ketchen join us to discuss their award-winning graphic novel, "You Have to Live, Why Not Win?" and Larry's journey from racial segregation to success as an entrepreneur, author, teacher and artist. This is our most inspirational interview yet and will make you question your perceptions of yourself and others. In a good way. We promise. If you listen to one episode of the Busyness Paradox, make...

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July 10, 2023 53 mins

We humans have a love/hate relationship with change. Many of us are probably alive today because some cave-dwelling ancestor said “on second thought, let’s not try that new shortcut through viper country cousin Erg suggested before he mysteriously disappeared.” Yet we also fear the consequences of NOT changing with the times: obsolescence, boredom and generally getting left behind as the world moves on. 

And so we cling to...

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May 31, 2023 48 mins

Have you ever gotten a pay raise and then, looking back, sort of wished you hadn't? It's become a surprisingly common phenomenon as employees have found hidden strings attached to the Covid-era generosity shown by employers. To discuss this unusual predicament, we sought out someone with a usual perspective on the workplace: meet Dr. Caleb Sanchez, a former police officer turned business psychologist. Join us as Dr. Sanch...

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With all the fanfare about artificial intelligence these past few months, listeners have asked us: "Will ChatGPT put an end to busywork?" Like all self-appointed experts, we took the question straight to ChatGPT. It tells us that "ChatGPT is designed to provide automated assistance and support...helping employees perform tasks more efficiently and effectively, reducing the amount of busywork they need to do." We...

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March 22, 2023 45 mins

It’s that time of year when endless news reports about March Madness-related “time theft” bubble up to the surface (get it? like teams on the bubble? anyone?) They all bemoan the incalculable dollar amount, which dozens of studies nonetheless claim to calculate, lost to employees watching basketball instead of working. Our take: if your employees are doing what you pay them to do and you’re furious that they didn’t do more because ...

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Join us as we pat ourselves on the back for reaching the fabled 52-episode milestone. Because 52 is way more exciting than 50. Not because we had already passed 50 episodes without realizing it. Why would you even think that? Anyways, publishing 52 episodes has taught us that podcasting shares a (wait for it…) paradox with many seemingly simple jobs: the more skill and effort you put into it, the less skill and effort the average c...

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We all know the story. After worshipping at the altar of "lean" for decades, we spent two years wondering where all the toilet paper and pickup trucks went. Covid reminded us that too much efficiency could be colossally inefficient, slack was back, hooray. Then you tried to board that Southwest flight a couple months ago and you realized the germ-like aversion to slack had taken root far beyond the manufacturing sector. I...

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If you're like us, you grew up being told that American labor unions were a fading relic of the past. After a string of successful organizing drives and a stunning 406 strikes in 2022, we're beginning to question that assumption. Reflecting on the ongoing labor strife in the American railroad industry, we decided it was time to bring in an expert to discuss the current state of organized labor in the U.S. In this episode,...

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January 12, 2023 51 mins

Back in March 2020, millions of workers around the world abruptly learned that their jobs didn't always require their presence at a specific desk in a specific building at a specific set of times each and every week. After a bumpy start, many began to appreciate the flexibility, autonomy and, to varying degrees, empowerment this new approach to work afforded. Others decided it wasn't for them. A few decided it wasn't...

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December 13, 2022 44 mins

“Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” So says Mike Tyson, and so it is with layoffs. No one starts a new job expecting it to end with a pink-slip. Even when the grim employment reaper is seen milling about our own workplace, it’s easy to convince ourselves that he’s only harvesting other people’s jobs. And yet, almost half of us will be downsized at least once in our careers. Join us as we discuss some warnin...

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Almost three years in, we think it's safe to conclude that history will view the 2020's as "an interesting time to be alive." But a silver lining of these turbulent times has been the widespread rethinking about how work should "work." The resulting push toward previously-unthinkable levels of flexibility, empowerment and compensation has met with some friction, however. The resulting labor unrest, str...

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September 12, 2022 47 mins

By now you've probably heard about "quiet quitting," the latest workplace trend to blow the minds of journalists and social media posters alike. This stunning act of rebellion involves employees doing the work they are paid to do. Seriously. That's what quiet quitting is. It's neither quiet nor quitting, but it's a movement nonetheless.

The hoopla, of course, is about what these mutinous work...

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We've all seen the signs and memes. We've heard the cranky scorn from talking heads, business owners, politicians and old men yelling at clouds. No one (except them) wants to work anymore! Everyone (except them) is lazy! In this episode, we challenge the ironically lazy thinking behind these claims and ask those who feel this way to consider an alternative explanation: maybe people just don't want to work for you?

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August 2, 2022 48 mins

You asked us to talk more about four-day work weeks, we did you one better. Join us for a discussion with Charlotte Lockhart, founder and managing director of the 4 Day Week Global Foundation! With operations in North America, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Europe, Charlotte and her husband, Andrew Barnes (author of The 4 Day Week), are at the literal forefront of this movement. If you’ve ever questioned the Monday-Friday, one-...

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July 6, 2022 36 mins

With all the changes brought about by Covid-19, you might not be surprised to hear about a huge uptick in research on the effects of shortened work weeks. You might be surprised to hear that this sudden burst of scholarly interest began - and ended - in the 1970s. What did our (presumably) bell-bottomed forebears learn about the pros and cons of ditching the traditional five-day workweek? Why did it take a pandemic to rekindle our ...

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June 1, 2022 29 mins

There is such a thing as "good" busyness - that baseline euphoria you feel when you're humming along, pummeling your to-do list like it owes you money. There's also such a thing as fake busyness - that absurd phenomenon where adults convene in an office and pretend to be doing important work stuff.

Look over at your employees or coworkers. Which type of busyness do you see? Are you sure? Join us as we ...

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May 18, 2022 34 mins
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April 23, 2022 32 mins

Every few months someone proclaims the death of this working-from-home silliness. Citing indisputably indisputable sources, they assure us that our long nightmare of comfort and efficiency is over. "Rejoice!" they tell us! All who toil in their comfy clothes under the scornful eye of their pet cat, "Buttons"...fear not! The commutes, cubicles, and in-person meetings that are the God-given right of every man, wom...

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