Are You Productive… Or Just Busy?
Being busy is not the same as being productive.
Have you ever observed someone who seems to be busy all the time, but doesn’t really get anything done? Do you feel that sometimes you’re in the same boat?
Busy Versus Productive
There is a huge difference between being busy and being productive.
You can be busy all day and still feel like you’re behind on accomplishing your goals.
Have you ever spent hours clearing your inbox only to emerge without having actually completed your goals for the day?
How Do You Know If You’re Productive Or Just Busy?
To make sure that you’re not falling into the “busy for nothing” trap — here are some ways you can help yourself be productive.
As a result, you’ll be more effective at work and will have the time to focus on what matters most in your life.
Do You Have Goals?
People who are productive generally have goals and focus all of their work on achieving those goals.
Of course, there are always going to be distractions, but those distractions don’t take priority over the big picture.
Productive people are clear about what’s important to them by balancing short-term demands and long-term goals.
Do You Focus Or Multi-Task?
People who multi-task often seem very busy.
They’re always doing something, but they’re rarely doing any one thing very well.
Personally, I can’t even write a blog post while listening to television or the radio.
If I want to be productive and get something done quickly, I just focus on my tasks one by one.
You may feel like you’re getting less done this way but on the contrary, you’ll actually be checking more off your list in the long run.
Realize that you can’t do everything in one day but tasks do add up over time especially when you start to measure your results.
Do You Delegate?
Sometimes you may take on tasks that would really be better to delegate to someone else.
If you work alone in your own business, this may be more difficult.
But you might be able to delegate personal tasks while keeping the focus on business tasks.
For instance, if you work in a home business, delegate some of the household tasks to your kids, or hire a house cleaner to come in every week or every two weeks, or whatever your needs are.
There’s no reason you need to be cleaning bathrooms when you can use that time to build your business. 🙂
Do You Say No?
People who are productive know how to say no to something that is going to take them away from their own important work.
It’s okay to say no when you really don’t have time to fit in one more thing.
Of course, telling your boss “no” might not be an option but then again, if you feel overwhelmed at work, express yourself or figure out how to delegate tasks so you aren’t taking on too much.
Do You Let Some Things Go?
It may sound counterproductive to erase some tasks from your to-do list.
But you may find that you have given yourself tasks that really won’t move your vision forward and will take up extra time.
It’s okay to scratch something off the list and go a different way.
And while we’re talking about letting go…
Be kind to yourself.
We tend to be hardest on ourselves and if those who matter most can forgive us our faults, then we should be able to, as well.
Do You Have A Schedule?
People who are productive tend to have a schedule for each day of what needs to be done and when.
Make a daily or weekly to-do list but keep it focused on what’s most important for that time frame.
Try to complete the top priority tasks first (or the dreaded ones you wish to get over with) so that the rest of the day, or week, feels less demanding.
If you’re not planning ahead, chances are you’re staying busy but not productive.
Do You Complete Projects?
You can be busy doing something all day long, every day, and never get a project completed.
If you find you’re starting a lot of things without finishing them, it’s time to look at your priorities and become more productive.
Do You Feel Peace?
When you spend your time very busy but not accomplishing much you might feel a sense of anxiety.
You may worry about all the things you need to do that aren’t getting done.
But when you’re productive, you can actually feel peace when it comes to work.
You know what’s important and you have a plan to get it done on time.
Being Busy or Being Productive?
There’s a difference between being busy and being productive.
- Being busy is about working harder while being productive is about working smarter.
- Being busy is frantic while being productive is focused.
- Being busy is fueled by perfectionism while being productive is fueled by purpose.
- Being busy is about being good at everything while being productive is about being great at a few important things.
At the end of the day ask yourself if you had an incredibly busy day without any rhyme or reason?
Or did the work you did today bring you closer to your goals?
This honest introspection should become a daily ritual.
Asking yourself these questions about your productivity and will help you put your work in perspective. You’ll be able to differentiate between what’s a priority and what’s not.
Questioning yourself will give you an opportunity to think about what went well with your day and what didn’t — giving you the opportunity to make adjustments going forward.
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Let’s have some conversation!
By Lynn Huber
p.s. At the end of the day ask yourself if you had an incredibly busy day without any rhyme or reason?
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