Are you Busy or Productive?

At a recent doctor visit the assistant asked, “Are you staying busy?” A common question to start small talk, yet it always sits with me the wrong way. Is it a good thing that we are “busy?” Is that the standard we aim for to determine how we are doing? As long as we are busy, then we must be doing well?

Now, I know the doctor’s assistant had no ill intentions, and neither do I when I mindlessly ask people if they are “fine” or “busy” or “ok.” All words that don’t really describe what we are asking and perpetuate passive conversation.

I don’t want to be busy for the sake of being busy. Do you? Sometimes, we make ourselves busy in order to avoid dealing with the crummy tasks and situations. And sometimes we stay busy to give the illusion that we are important or accomplishing tasks. And most often, we are busy — thinking we are doing what’s on the list, but we never make forward progress.

Busy isn’t the goal in our life, is it?

I could go on a variety of tangents in this article about the importance of being intentional and prioritizing, rather than being busy for the sake of being busy. And how we’ve made full schedules and exciting social media posts a thing to be envied, signifying you must be doing things of value — rather than prioritizing an open evening with no “plans” as something to be coveted. I digress…and I’ll try to focus in here.

Does busy mean productive?

Productive means achieving or producing a significant amount of results (adjective)

Busy means having a great deal to do (adjective); keep occupied (verb)

A client recently told me, “I’m busy all day and never get anything accomplished.” Discouraged and frustrated she couldn’t figure out her problem. And now that we’ve broken down the difference between the two, we’ve identified the issue. She was busy “having a great deal to do; occupied,” when she needed to be “achieving results.”

How do we make the change from busy to productive?

There are a variety of avenues. But here are a few to get your mind turning:

Be intentional be aware of when you’re busy, but not moving forward. Your actions should have reason behind them. Don’t bounce from thing to thing. Be intentional in how you spend your time.

Know what you need to do be clear on what you need to do and what it looks like to get those tasks completed. A task needs a clear start and end, otherwise you’ll never get things checked off the list.

Be realistic you can only accomplish so much in one day. Along with knowing what you need to do, you need to be realistic on when you can get tasks completed. Set yourself up for success by knowing how much real time you have to be productive.

Stop when you’re done when you’ve met your timeline or tasks, be done. There will always be things to do, so don’t keep doing for the sake of doing. Enjoy the fruits of your productive labor! Tomorrow will bring new tasks to conquer.

Set the goal to be productive, so that you are no longer busy.

Take Action: Is this resonating with you? I want you to feel the joy of being productive rather than busy. To help you make progress, request this free resource to help you make a more productive to-do list.

If you want more support and accountability, I’d love to connect! Schedule a free 15 minute strategy session here and you’re guaranteed to learn at least one way to start adding more balance to your days.


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