“I’m too busy!” 4 Ways to turn “Busyness” into Production

“I’m too busy” may be the most overused statement. This statement is often followed by its close relative “I don’t have time.” I am guilty of using both statements! Busyness consumes time and makes time a liability.  Production makes time an asset. Being busy is often incorrectly associated with being productive.  Filling every minute of your day does not equate to high productivity.  It is possible to be productive for 3 hours and be busy for an entire day!

Busyness is creating a lengthy “to do “list and then multi-tasking in an attempt to complete every task on this list. At this point, the tasks are in control of you, you are more likely to cram another task onto the list (after all what’s one more task) and as a result the list does not get completed.  Most of us do not have time to complete a laundry list of tasks in one day and still enjoy life.  After attempting to complete these tasks you may be left feeling exhausted, overwhelmed or unaccomplished.  Production is prioritizing a “must do today list,” being realistic about what you can get done in a day and more importantly being in control of your tasks and your day.

How can you change your focus from being busy to being productive?

The following 4 strategies can be used as guides in assisting you in focusing on production:

Learn to Say No: For those of you who follow my blogs, “saying no” has become a common theme in me assisting you on your personal development journey.  The most productive people are slow to yes, practicing self-control to be certain not to overextend themselves.  The “busy people” consistently say yes quickly, often make impulsive decisions that result in overextension.

Take your time responding to emails (and other social media messages): A good friend of mine and I recently had a conversation about the distractions cause by smart phone notifications alerting us of a new message.  When receiving these notifications, most of us feel compelled to respond immediately.  Imagine starting your day responding to every notification.  You wake up to your phone alarm at 5am and because you have your phone in hand, you begin checking emails and other messages.   Before you know it, it is 7 am and you are still responding to and sending messages.  Find the time of day that works best for you and try to commit to that time span. (I do not recommend waking up to your phone alarm and checking emails before you get out of bed).  Set aside time to check emails and decide whether to “Do, Defer or Delete” the messages.

Make a “MUST GET DONE TODAY LIST:” Trade in your lengthy to do lists for the MUST DO list. MUST is the operative word.  The Must Do list should be no longer than 3-5 items depending on your lifestyle.  The list should not include tasks such as pick up the kids, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking dinner because these are things that you have to do and you are going to do.  Adding such items makes the list lengthy; thus creating busyness.  The Must Do list should include action steps taking you toward an ultimate goal.  For example if your goal is to write a book, an item on your list might include writing 2 pages of the first chapter.  If your goal is to start a business items may include scheduling an appointment with a successful business owner, reading an article on building a successful business and so on.

Learn to Uni-Task: We live in a fast paced society that values multi-tasking.  People are hired and promoted because of their abilities to multi-task.  However, focusing on completing a single task can actually increase your results.  Uni-tasking is not working on one thing for weeks or months until you finish it.  Uni-tasking means that while you are working on a task, work on just that task until it is complete.  If the task is important to you, it deserves your undivided attention.  Click here for my blog on uni-tasking versus multi-tasking.

By no means am I dismissing that being busy can have its merits. One of the major differences between busy people and productive people are busy people consider busyness as a lifestyle, while productive people consider busyness as a season.

Now it’s time to hear from you! What experiences have you had with being busy and/or being productive?


Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual life coaching and counseling. For more information or assistance with time management and stress management, please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com



8 thoughts on ““I’m too busy!” 4 Ways to turn “Busyness” into Production

  1. I recently learned two things about busyness. One is very personal and psychological. I learned that I said it often to feel & seem important. Once I had this insight, I stopped using the word, because I know I am important, make a difference to many others and am a contribution.
    The other is universal we can learn from. In the Chinese language, the word busy is composed of two characters- heart & killer. That should be a lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. debhnelson says:

    This post is soooo on target Sharise! Lots of folks are having the busyness syndrome; I’ve been there as well thanks, in part, to a way-too-long to-do list. I love the suggestions you offer up to get off of the busyness band wagon: saying no is so empowering and freeing and helps take control of tasks that need to get done. Figuring out those top items that need to get done takes pressure off to do items on that to-do just to have the satisfaction of checking them off. Woo hoo – feeling more productive already!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. another wonderful self care post! love it! Simplifying things helps a ton and just focusing on 2 or 3 tasks per day. I went as far as designing my own day planner and although, I don’t have a typical 9-5 job, actually I fired the term 9-5, I have much more quality time now to spend playing with Mia, Chaos and oh yeah, spending time with Joe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Personally I do not do anything on my phone other than message people and call people, so it sounds like I’ve eliminated a lot of the distractions that keep people so “busy”. I love having lots to do and find the idea of “relaxing” very foreign to me. I do get the distinction between being busy and being productive. Sometimes in the busy moments though I find an inspiration and am thankful I am able to stop and focus when I have a specific task, like writing a blog post, I want to accomplish.

    We each have different styles of operating and when I am feeling very “overwhelmed” by all the stuff I have going on, I take a break, do something else and find my own way to refocus before I move on. Being in front of the computer so much is already stress producing and I am looking at ways to streamline how much time I am spending. I realized in my art class last week, that I was feeling anxious knowing I had to come home and “catch up” on all the things that were piling up and required me to be on the computer. This week, I was fully in the class and less concerned about the “stuff” that I would be facing when I got back on my computer. Much more aligned with the life I want to live for sure. Thanks for the great post, Sharise!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Sharise 🙂

    I really enjoyed your post! Some awesome food for thought here 🙂 I can totally relate to these 2 as being “busy” is just doing way too many things and trying to get them all done, as for being “productive” you have stuff to do but you learn how to “prioritize” better and I prefer the latter 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sharise, this is a great article. 🙂 I’m constantly tempted to multitask, but I have found that multitasking is really busyness and a way to not get anything done. I try to do one thing at a time (for instance, reply to our group’s blog posts), and I can finish more tasks in less time. Win win! 🙂 Love Roz’s interpretation above (“heart+killer”).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This post hits home for me this week! I have learned the difference between being busy and being productive. I am learning – more slowly than I’d like – that I really do not need to know what is going on in Facebook land or my emails every second of every day. This and limiting my To Do list to my Top 3 makes me feel like I can breathe – there are always things to do … that will never be an issue. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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