The Difference Between Busy and Productive

Doing things to stay busy and doing productive tasks can look very different from one another. Many people say things like, “I am so busy today” or “Sorry I haven’t called. I’ve been so busy lately.” Often, saying that you are busy can be used as an excuse not to do something else. You could be procrastinating or possibly avoiding someone, so you tell them you’re busy when really, you’re sitting on the couch playing on your phone and watching another season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

The difference between being busy and being productive is this.

Being busy is about working harder, while being productive is about working smarter. Being busy is frantic, while being productive is focused.

Examples of Busy Work:

  1. Sitting in meetings all day
  2. Tasks that distract you from using meaningful skills
  3. Acting on pointless projects
  4. Editing reports or documents when people are around to look like you’re doing something important
  5. Resisting the change to atomization so you’ll have things to do in fear of losing your job
  6. Doing low value tasks
  7. Trying to improve meaningless metrics

Examples of Productive Work:

  1. Focusing on high-priority tasks
  2. Reserving 20% of your day for important tasks
  3. Cleaning your workspace
  4. Minimizing distractions
  5. Having a plan for meetings
  6. Getting quality sleep
  7. Increasing your access to sunlight
  8. Exercising regularly
  9. Checking emails only twice a day
  10. Focusing on one task at a time
  11. Learning new skills and improving on the ones you already have
  12. Planning for the morning the night before
  13. Writing down your thoughts and ideas
  14. Taking a break

Next time you say you are busy, make sure you are not using it as an excuse to look or sound important but rather that you are truly creating and producing quality work that has value.

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