“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 firstname.lastname@example.org