Are you spuddling? If not, maybe you should be.

Dr. Donna L. Roberts

Don't Just Be Busy, Be Productive

In the fast-paced world of today, where productivity and efficiency are highly valued, it's easy to get caught up in the rat race and feel like you're constantly on the go. But what if there was a word that described those moments when you're busy but not actually getting anything done? Meet "spuddle," a verb from centuries ago that means to work feebly and ineffectively, because your mind is elsewhere or you haven't quite woken up yet.

The origins of the word "spuddle" are uncertain, but it is believed to have been in use since the 17th century. It is a combination of the words "spurt" and "puddle," which gives a sense of aimlessly splashing around in a task, without any real direction or purpose.

The word "spuddle" is a great way to describe those times when you're trying to focus on a task, but your mind keeps wandering. Maybe you're trying to read an important document, but your thoughts keep drifting to your to-do list for the day. Or perhaps you're trying to write an important email, but you keep getting sidetracked by notifications on your phone. In these cases, you're not really getting anything done, you're just spuddling.

It's also a great way to describe those moments when you're busy, but not actually achieving anything. For example, if you're at work and you're constantly running around, attending meetings, answering emails, but you're not really getting anything done, you're just spuddling.

In today's society, we tend to equate being busy with being productive, but this isn't always the case. In a work setting, "spuddling" can also be a sign of burnout. When we're overworked and exhausted, it can be hard to focus and get anything done. "Spuddle" is a reminder that it's not just about how busy we are, but about how effectively we're using our time. Instead of spuddling, it's better to take a step back, reassess your priorities and focus on the tasks that are truly important.

It's important to note that "spuddling" is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it can be a necessary part of the process. For example, when we're working on a creative project, we might need to spend some time brainstorming, exploring different ideas, and experimenting. This might feel like we're spuddling, but it's an important part of the creative process.

Another benefit of "spuddling" is that it can help us to relax and recharge. Sometimes, we need to take a break from our busy lives and allow ourselves to be aimless and unfocused. This can help us to clear our minds and come back to our tasks with renewed energy and focus.

Clearly, this forgotten but useful verb from the 17th century can have both negative and positive connotations. It's important to be mindful of how we're using our time and to make sure that we're not spending too much time spuddling, but we also shouldn't feel guilty for taking a break and allowing ourselves to be aimless and unfocused.

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Writer and university professor researching media psych, generational studies, addiction psychology, human and animal rights, and the intersection of art and psychology.

Canandaigua, NY
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