Want to Accomplish Something? Become Productive Not Busy

A coffee cup rests on a notebook, atop a wooden table

Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”.

Today is seems everyone is busy; students are busy, people who have a job or who are looking for a job are busy, children, parents, single and unattached people, even grandparents are busy.

If you are not busy it seems as though people think there may be something wrong with you, you must be ill, depressed, lazy or bored. As an entrepreneur or business owner chances are you are busy. As an entrepreneur or business owner you may also be a student, parent, grandparent, working another job or working on gaining new skills and find yourself endlessly busy.

For many entrepreneurs and business owners’ being busy is not just a frequent refrain, it is also a chain that is holding you back from being productive and achieving your goals.

Being Busy is Not Being Productive

What do we mean when we say someone is busy?

Some people say they are busy because they have an active personal, family or social life, people are busy because they are working several jobs to make ends meat or get ahead, they are also busy doing things to improve themselves, gain new skills, seeking new adventures or some combination of all.

When being busy is something you are in control of, based on choices you make to achieve a goal you have set, being busy can play a role in accomplishing your goals and have a positive impact. When being busy is something that is out of your control or has no clear purpose being busy can get in the way of achieving your goals.

The definition of busy

The definition of busy includes ‘having a great deal to do’, ‘being occupied’ and even ‘being industrious’, and even ‘devoted to work’. For most people being busy involves a constant state of movement, physical or mental, between events, tasks, problems, issues, commitments, needs and more.

In theory being busy, as Benjamin Franklin implied, can be a component of being productive, but for most of us being busy is not the same as being productive.

The definition of productivity

According to the definition of productivity, productivity involves “being able to generate, create or enhance goods or services”. To be productive you need to have a “material impact on something or produce something”. If you are being busy and having the impact you wish then being busy is a positive thing.

However, if being busy involves running around endlessly, making list and crossing tasks off the list only to add more items to the list and you never seem to get ahead or reach your goals then you are just being busy and not moving towards achieving your goals.

In a world where work spills into life and vice versa productivity is an important component of maintaining balance while getting things done. With more to do you need to make every attempt to do it well and efficiently.

To be productive while being busy you want to understand how your activities fit into your goals, even when your goals include having fun.  Taking steps to gain a measure of control over your priorities, even when you have to remain open to adjusting your priorities can put you back in the drivers’ seat of your life.

Personal Time Analysis – Understand How Your Time Is Spent

One of the first tasks you can undertake to better manage your productivity is to conduct a personal time analysis. This requires you to take a little time to better understand where and how you are spending your time and energy.

A personal time analysis requires you to spend time over at least 2 weeks, yes, weeks, to monitor and track how and where you are spending your time. This task can be enlightening enough to make the extra work a good way to be busy.

A simple way of tracking your time includes taking a ‘day planner’

A ‘day planner’ best practice calls for jotting down your activities in 15 or 30 minute intervals throughout the day. At the end of 2 weeks you have a snapshot of where your time is being spent.

You might be surprised to learn how much time you are spending watching Netflix, following Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok links to ‘interesting’ stories, responding to emails, or getting ready for ‘fun’ activities and more.

If you don’t want to break out the pencil there are a few apps you can use to effectively track and then analyse your time usage.

  1. Toggl – this tool can be used for tracking personal, work and team time to the minute and then letting you print lovely reports to show you what you are doing with your time
  2. Rescue Time – running in the background it lets you track your time spent on apps and websites (like Facebook, Netflix or Youtube)
  3. My Minutes (on iTunes) – this apps allows you to set time limits and then nudges you when you go past the time you have defined
  4. Eternity Time Log (iTunes) – track your time on projects and generate reports on where your time is spent.
  5. Timely – time tracking app
  6. Timesheet (Google Play Android only) – Can use voice commands to track your time

Share your priorities and plans with people who can contribute to your productivity by helping you remember to think about yourself and the people who are important to you. Part 2 will cover 7 Steps Towards Productivity.

Related articles:

De-stress for Efficiency and a More Positive Outlook

Your Employees Can Help Move the Needle

3 Ways Small Business Owners Can Take Control Of Stress


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