I came across this term in Steven Covy’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. An activity trap is the fallacious concept that merely doing tons of things = progress. That being very busy equates to being effective, or fulfilling.
Have you ever had a looming project, something huge that was coming on you fast, and you were just about to get started, when instead you thought:
“Hmm, I really have to clean my room.”
You spend the next several hours bringing your room to a meticulous state of cleanlines through endless busywork, while ignoring the prime task at hand. This is an activity trap.
Tony Robins talks about this as well. He calls it a form of escapism, mixed with false productivity. Of course, having a clean, orderly environment to work in is important, but this is an issue of priority.
It’s as if you are chopping down telephone poles, instead of trees, just so you can have the satisfaction of axe hitting wood.