Are You Productive? Or Just Busy?

a busyperson vs a productive person

Busy means doing a lot of things, while productive means finishing a lot of things. There is a huge difference between the two, but it is very easy to confuse one for the other. Things can get busy a lot, especially for entrepreneurs. New opportunities knocking, new people to meet, problems to attend to, your family demanding attention. Every day is filled with tasks, projects, events and activities. But a full and busy doesn’t equate with a productive one. The busiest person doesn’t usually end up the most productive, or the most successful.

Effectiveness in what you do is the key to managing your time, effort and attention. A busy person’s response to a pile of tasks is to work harder and longer. But you can only cover as many tasks as you can physically can. A productive person goes beyond working or completing the tasks, that person does it with a lot of creativity, planning, and strategizing.

Here are 14 key differences between a busy and a productive person;

  1. Busy people have a lot of priorities, productive people have few.
  2. Busy people appear to have a mission, productive people do.
  3. Busy people have long to-do lists, productive people have shorter lists.
  4. Busy people jump into action, productive people have a clear plan of action.
  5. Busy people say yes easily, productive people are slow to say yes.
  6. Busy people multitask, productive people focus.
  7. Busy people respond instantly, productive people take their time.
  8. Busy people want to see busy people, productive people want others to be effective.
  9. Busy people talk about changing, productive people are making the change.
  10. Busy people can easily get distracted, productive people establish a system of work.
  11. For busy people, everything is important and urgent, for productive people, important and urgent are different.
  12. Busy people are always working, productive people take relaxing breaks.
  13. Busy people work harder, productive people work smarter.
  14. Busy people talk how busy they are, productive people show results.

Steps to Becoming More Productive (and Less Busy)

  1. Categorise your to-do list
    1. Prioritise tasks – Focus on the urgent and important, then tackle the important but not urgent, then the urgent but not important. Know the difference of the important from the urgent tasks, and do not be fazed by the urgency of unimportant tasks.
    2. Combine similar tasks – Task batching will save you a lot of time. Putting together similar tasks like updating social media accounts, answering emails or making phone calls will keep you focused and more effective in the task on hand.
    3. Delegate what you can – Delegation is an art used by the most successful businessmen and women. Clear your desk with complex, repetitive and time-consuming tasks so you can focus on the ones you are good at.
  2. Establish a working system
    1. Plan to lessen distraction – Eliminate distractions from your workplace. If you’re most effective working alone, set up your desk in a room of your own. Turn off notifications, direct calls to an assistant or close all irrelevant tabs and apps.
    2. Identify the best time to accomplish each task – Know your peak hours for creativity and physical activity and match it with your tasks. Also, consider the business day trend, it won’t be a good time to plan the menu with your chef during peak hours, or to restock the shelves when clients are most expected.
    3. Use available tools to lessen manual work – Take advantage of apps and tools that will take away some of your tasks. Automating bills payment will save you from going out, office collaboration and communication apps will save you and your team from physically meeting or going to the next room. Other tasks that can be automated include recurring invoicing, social media posts, autoreply emails, chatbots.
    4. Focus on the tasks that you are good at – Why spend long hours on bookkeeping or writing if you hate the job and you suck at it? Delegate them to the experts, to professional writers and bookkeepers in Brisbane, so you can focus on what you do best.
  3. Work on one task at a time
    1. Master your work calendar – A work calendar is your bird’s eye view of your day, week, month or year. You can clearly see how your day looks like, no overlapping or forgotten tasks. Use a calendar to plot your schedule and stick to it. Add tasks, use colours to indicate the importance and urgency of each task and set deadlines.
    2. Get help whenever possible – When things get crazy busy, you can always get some help. You can hire expert freelancers online for specific tasks like logo or packaging design, social media management, research or email management. They have the equipment, the skills and are ready to work.
    3. Forget perfection – Focus on the goal instead of perfection. If you delay the launch of your product due to its imperfect packaging or opening a store because the signage is still not up, you also delay earning the income and getting close to your goals.
  4. Take breaks – running a business is not a sprint unless you want to go down fast. Running a business is a marathon. If you want to last long, you have to pace yourself. Taking breaks will keep you healthier, motivated and away from burnouts.