Busy Vs Productive
What was your answer the last time someone asked you, “How have you been doing?” If you said, “Busy,” you’re certainly not alone. We hear it more often than not, and to be perfectly honest, we often feel the same way.
But here’s the deal: There’s a tremendous difference between being busy and being productive. Even more, there’s a big difference between productivity and focused productivity.
As the quote suggests, being busy and productive without clarity about your priorities and a focus on what’s most important is useless. Heck, you could argue that it’s worse than useless; it’s potentially harmful and damaging.
So, how can you avoid the “productivity trap”? Here are a few ideas:
- Make a “not-to-do” list. Write down all of the things you’re currently doing that aren’t worth the time and effort you’re spending on them. Delegate them, if possible, or…
- Let go of the rest. Focus on the essential items, and if something is not important and not urgent, get rid of it. If you need help with this, check out How to Focus article.
- Plan ahead. Once you know what you will and won’t do, prioritize your to-do list. Some people do this weekly, but most people do it daily, mapping out their agenda for the next day the night before.
- Do a daily recap. While you’re doing your nightly line-up for the following day, do a daily recap to see how you did. What went well? Where can you improve?
- Clear the clutter. Clutter on your desk, your office, your inbox, etc., can be very distracting. Make sure you set aside time weekly to tidy things up. This not only helps keep things clean, it also helps you from getting sidetracked with spontaneous house cleaning.
- Put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes the most daunting step is the first one. But rather than paralysis by analysis, just take one step—in any direction.
- Batch similar tasks together. When you’re putting together your daily line-up card, batch similar tasks together whenever possible. Set aside dedicated time for emails, phone calls, projects, meetings, etc., rather than sporadically spacing them out. Every time you change tasks, there’s an opportunity cost; that’s right, we’re suggesting that you don’t multi-task.
- Set a timer. If you have trouble being disciplined with your time, use a timer. This is an incredibly useful tool for most people. It helps create a sense of urgency, it can alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed, and it creates a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. You can get more tips on Time Management here.
- Schedule mini-workouts. Physical activity boosts energy levels, helps manage hunger and blood sugar levels, improves cognitive function, and boosts productivity. Schedule 5- to 10-minute micro workouts during your work day.
- Improve your communication. If you’re too wordy, you can be leaky valuable time and creating confusion. Keep things as simple as possible and focus on answering questions—not creating new ones.
When you combine productivity with focus, well … that’s where the magic happens.