Are You Busy? Or Are You Productive?

Written by on July 1, 2016

Too many people are so busy they have forgotten about being productive. There is a huge difference and top performers know it. Productive is doing the things that make you or the company money. It’s doing the things that have the greatest impact on the business (or your life). It’s not just pounding through some to-do list so you can feel good about checking the boxes.

Now, let me be clear. This is not a to-do list-bashing blog. I love the to-do list. I’m the person that will write something I’ve done on the to-do list after I’ve done it so that I can have the satisfaction of marking it off! (I know but it just feels so good to see the checkmark on the list!)

So, here is the issue. “Getting it all done” and being totally caught up is a fantasy. Being totally accessible through technology means there is seldom a lull in the incoming to-dos. The next email you read will bring another task. The voice mail messages you listen to will hold another issue for you to handle.

The real question is not: “How can I get it all done?” The better question is: “What things can you afford to put off and what are the things you can’t?”

Think of it like this. There are 100 things you “should” do each day. Your job is to figure out which of the 4 or 5 are the non-negotiables…..and make sure you do those first!

I’ve seen people fool themselves by over-organizing, calling more meetings than necessary, jumping on conference calls, getting sucked into the inbox in their emails, etc. We all know what we need to do but most of us are too busy being busy, instead of being productive. The difficult tasks you want to avoid should probably be your non-negotiable tasks for the day. Try to begin each day with the 4 or 5 things you have decided you must accomplish. Once you accomplish those 4 or 5 things (or 1 or 2), THEN move to the things that can be wasting your time.

Start right now. Here are a few questions to consider:
• What should you be spending your time doing?
• What is the one thing that you have been putting off?
• What success has been delayed because you didn’t take action yet?
• What have you been doing that you need to delegate?
• What are some things you really “want” to do but haven’t had the time to do?
• What is your personal business plan?
• What will your job look like in 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years?
• What do you need to do now to be ready for what’s next?
• What books or articles should you be reading?
• What seminars should you be attending?
• Who should you be connecting with that could mentor you?
• What should you be doing that will make you smarter and happier?
• Are you building in any time for your health?
• Are you spending enough time with the people you love?

These are all great questions to start to thinking about instead of just grinding it out day after day. Figure out how to manage your schedule instead of letting it manage you.

Being busy will pass the time but being productive will make the time count!

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  1. Michael M   On   July 2, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Excellent topic!
    As the late, great John Wooden said… Know the difference between activity & achievement.

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