Keeping Busy versus Productive

Keeping Busy versus Productive

“Keeping busy.”

You’ve probably received the above response when asking a friend or coworker how work is. You’ve probably answered it when someone asked you how things are going.

There are likely very few of us who would answer, “Doing nothing.” We are busy people. That’s easy to see. The part that’s difficult is knowing whether or not that busyness is productive. Is it just “keeping busy”?

You can often tell the difference between being busy and being productive by the next day. If you still have as much to do tomorrow, and never less on your plate, you can probably figure out that busyness levels are high; production levels are low. If you have something to show for your efforts at the end of the day, and you don’t have to repeat the same tasks the next day, that is productivity.

Here are three tips on maximizing your productivity.

  1. Prioritize. First things first, always. Do your important responsibilities first. Don’t fall back on doing the easiest simply to check it off your list. If you need to do an easy task to start your day (like making yourself a cup of coffee to get the momentum going), that is fine. But jump into the big-ticket items on your list as early as possible. Know what your most productive times of the day and days of the week are, and accomplish your priority tasks at that time.
  2. Follow a list. Whether it is a daily list you adhere to rigidly, a weekly list of your bigger ticket to-do’s, or an overarching list of things you need to accomplish this month, follow it. Don’t allow yourself to get off track by wasting time doing something that is not on your list. A helpful note: keep your old lists to track your productivity over time, and you might glean some useful ideas.
  3. Create space in your day. This is where you cut back the busyness to enhance true productivity. When you take time regularly to step back and look at the big picture, you can tell the difference between the forest and the trees. You can track overall trends or catch a glimpse of bigger ideas. Create a vacuum with that space, and it will be filled with bigger and better things than frantic busyness ever will.

Grow Big or Go Home!