Believe it or not, there is a difference between being productive and just being busy. Let’s break it down by the definitions: Productive means producing or able to produce large amounts of goods or other commodities. Busy means having a great deal to do or keeping occupied. You might think at first glance, “doesn’t being productive mean keeping busy?” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Being productive means achieving daily (micro) goals that set you up to ultimately achieve the long-term (macro) goals. This can directly affect business-driven goals within your organization because it ensures that you’re working on tasks that have a greater return on investment versus tasks that just keep you busy. In other words, work smarter not harder!
We’ve put together a list of how you can make sure you’re being productive instead of busy.
Productive is creating a strategic to-do list. Busy is compiling a to-do list to stay occupied throughout the day.
When you’re being productive, you are planning your to-do list either the day before or the morning of. Prioritize critical thinking tasks that may take more brainpower at the top and tasks with the least amount of work (that you can get away with working on the next day if you run out of time) towards the bottom. Filling up your to-do list should never be the goal. Take the less-is-more approach.
Productive is saying “no” to tasks that serve little to no purpose towards your goal. Busy is saying “yes” without thinking about the outcome.
Productive decision making is taking on tasks that add value to your end goal. Busy tasks are taking up your time at the wrong time; maybe it’s a goal that you still intend to accomplish, but it isn’t being prioritized correctly to what is urgent. Practice establishing what is urgent from what is important. If your teammate needs an important file that is hindering them from moving to the next step in their tasks, that is a productive action to take. However, if they’re wanting a photo for a file that isn’t going out until a week later, it can wait.
Productive is creating a system to stay focused. Busy is being prone to distractions.
Being productive means being aware of distractions and creating a system to prevent them from hindering your work. This could be putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” or using noise-canceling headphones in a loud environment. Being busy means that you are allowing yourself to fall into these distractions, such as checking your email compulsively or your phone every time it buzzes. These distractions can make your brain process things slower, which hinders your ability to concentrate.
Productive is focusing on one task at a time. Busy is multitasking.
Productivity starts with having a plan and then focusing on completing one task at a time. Being busy is trying to do 10 things at once with several tabs opened on your computer. This ties into the last point of limiting distractions. Multi-tasking could be distracting yourself from the task at hand. Plus, the time it takes for you to re-focus on a task could be used towards actually finishing it. You can wear yourself out by trying to be superhuman, so harness all of your energy into one task then move to the next one.
Productive is knowing when to pause. Busy is continuing on - and setting yourself up for burnout.
Times have changed since we were able to give our energy to multiple things at once for days at a time. Being productive means knowing when to take a break or stop working altogether. Entrepreneur burnout is real and if you don't take care of yourself, you can’t perform at your best. Make time to pause and recharge because we all know in between meetings, tasks, events, and socializing, our battery can drain faster than we think.
You can also work on this by ditching goals or plans that don’t matter to you anymore. If you have a happy hour with a colleague that you hardly talk to in the office after working a 10 hour day, reschedule it. If a team member came up with a better idea for a social media post that they plan to execute, let them do it and save a date at a later time to revamp yours. Focus your energy and resources solely on things that resonate with your purpose.
Each day, choose to reach your peak productivity levels by forgetting about looking and feeling busy and transform yourself into a goal-achieving, productivity machine. This will inevitably increase your profits, work environment mood, and so much more. In fact, sharing this blog with your fellow colleagues, team members, or even friends can be life-changing for the better.
Have some productivity tips you want to share? Let us know on our social media platforms (@eWomenNetwork) and let’s spread the word on habits we can create today for a better tomorrow!