Why Being Busy Is Not The Same As Being Productive

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You might be busy, but are you productive?

Every day we have tasks that we need to accomplish, whether we are at work, school or running a business. No matter how many tasks we complete most of us come home in the evening saying how busy we have been.

But being busy and being productive are not the same thing. You can have lots on your mind, you can have cross a lot of tasks off your list, but have you actually achieved anything? Have you actually been productive?

Chances are the answer is no. Here’s how to understand the difference

Busy ≠ Productive

Why Being Busy Is Not The Same As Being Productive - Busy is not productive

Being busy is about doing things, whether as being productive is about achieving things! It’s easy to come home from work and say that you have had a busy day. You didn’t stop at all. But were you wasting your time stuck in boring meetings or procrastinating over one email for two hours?

If the answer is yes, then unfortunately you were busy. But not productive. Being productive requires that you can show visible process and measure what you have done. If writing an email takes three hours because you keep flicking between other tasks, or the internet, then you might feel like you were busy. But you certainly weren’t productive.

Essentially, being busy means doing something, but noth achieving anything. This could come down to procrastination or doing non-essential activities. If we are going to break out of this habit then we need to take action.

Here are some times to increase your productivity and end the day feeling like you actually accomplished something.

Increasing Productivity

Why Being Busy Is Not The Same As Being Productive - Be more productive

There are several things you can do to create a process and therefore improve your productivity. Each of these tips can be used at work, home or school. You just need to find what works for you and stick to a process over time so that it becomes a habit.

  • When creating a “to do list” prioritise the tasks in order of importance. You should also set a realistic deadline for each task you need to complete and keep track of your workload to ensure everything can be done in time.
  • Constantly review your “to do list”. What may have been really important yesterday, may not be as important today. If completing that task won’t allow you to move forward then cross it off your list or reschedule it for another time when you might not have as many other urgent tasks to work on.
  • Associate tasks with goals to keep you on track. For example if you have to write a new blog post why is that? Instead of just saying “I need to write a blog post on XYZ” you can say that you need to “write a new blog post on XYZ with the goal of bringing in 1,000 new visitors to your site.”
  • Make sure you have the appropriate skills to do each of the tasks. If you find there is something on your “to do list” that isn’t quite up your alley consider outsourcing it. You may get a better result and reduce the chance that you will keep putting it off.
  • Work in bursts. Allocate 40 to 60 minutes to a task and focus 100% of your energy to it. Don’t multi-task and once you are finished talk a short break, get some water, walk around the office then get back to work for round two.

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About Author

Paul Towers - Founder @ Task Pigeon

Paul Towers is a 3x Entrepreneur and Founder of Task Pigeon. Join me on my journey to build an open & transparent startup from day one. Paul is also the founder of Startup Soda, a newsletter curating the best content from the Australian startup ecosystem.