The Difference Between Being Productive and Being Busy
You probably have some friends or just met some people who claim to be very busy, not with just their work, but with a lot of things they do in life.
And you probably thought to yourself “Wow, they are very busy, they are probably very productive in their lives and jobs”.
However, that might not always be the case.
Most of the time you can be very busy, but, at the same time, not very productive.
It really depends on how well you are able to manage your time and create a good schedule which you are able to follow.
We are here today to solve any dilemma you might have.
We will show you what is the difference between being busy and being productive and how you can shift from busy to productive, by providing some practical examples.
Without any further due, let’s get into it!
BUSY VS PRODUCTIVE, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Like we have already mentioned, there is a very big difference between what it really means to be busy and being productive.
Interesting thing is, you can be very busy for the entire day and still feel like you haven’t been productive at all.
When we work, we often have our “to-do-lists” to follow, but sometimes you can do like 70-80% of your list and still feel like you weren’t productive enough?
For example, if you left out 2 or 3 really important tasks, while you had done everything else, then you might feel like you haven’t accomplished enough for the day.
a. Busy Individual
The busy person is someone who wastes too much time on doing things for which that much time is not needed.
For example, if I had 3 days to write and post some article, I would have to do several different things before I am ready to post it on the website.
First, I would have to do some research on the topic in order to familiarize myself to what I need to write.
After that, I would have to structure the article to look and feel nice. Then comes the writing and after that posting the article on the website.
Now, a busy person would, for instance, spend too much time on one of these tasks, for instance, 2 and a half days on research and half a day on writing and posting.
That would be counter-productive and would make the text look rushed and not good enough.
Another possibility is that distinguishes busy from a productive person is that people who are busy often tend to be perfectionists.
Of course, it is not a bad thing to wish for your work to be perfect, but sometimes it is simply not possible.
So, in our example, a perfectionist would be the person who would want to make text look perfect and unique in every aspect, which is not always possible, due to deadlines and other factors that can contribute all the same.
b. Productive Individual
A person who is productive is also a person who is busy, but a person who is busy is not always a person who is productive.
Productive people tend to think differently, they don’t waste time doing one task for too long. Instead, they try to make most of their time being useful.
Let’s take the previous example and see how a productive person would handle the same task.
So, the goal is the same, 3 days for the article to be posted on the website.
The only different thing now, is that we have a productive person working on a task.
Productive people know how to manage their time and plan ahead in order to prioritize more important tasks first.
In our example, a person who is productive would properly split all the tasks.
For instance, I would first do a research on the topic at hand and structure the article prior to the writing.
Since I would have 3 days, that could be done on day 1.
Since the article has already been structured, I would be able to immediately start writing the next day, without having to worry about making the structure along the way.
That way, I would be able to write much faster, while following the said structure along the way in order to keep the article meaningful and easier to read.
And lastly, if the text is finished by the end of the 2nd day, then I would spend some part of the third day to re-read it and correct some possible grammar errors that might’ve appeared along the way.
After that, what remains is, simply upload the article on the website.
As you can see, this system seems way more organized and meticulous than what a busy person would do.
It is very important to act this way because your work would be much better, thus, making your clients much happier.
BENEFITS OF BECOMING MORE PRODUCTIVE BY JOHN SPENCER
Now that we have defined and went through the main responsibilities of what it really means to be productive, let’s see why it is so important to be productive, what are the main advantages of having a productive person in your company’s team.
We will focus on a practical example John Spencer, a college teacher, had.
We’ll see how he managed to change his personality from being busy to being productive and what improvements in his work and life he noticed when he had decided to make this change.
1. Better Projects
The very first improvement John Spencer noticed, was the fact that after he had made the shift from being busy to being productive, he started to make much better projects regarding his work with the children.
What he always wanted to achieve is think of a new way for children to learn, to make it easier and help children to both have fun and learn new and important things at the same time.
After he broke up with busy, he was able to focus more on that planning aspect of his work, which helped him make better plans for learning school units.
This happened because he stopped spending a lot of time on trivial tasks such as inputting grades, which allowed him to focus on more important work.
2. Taking Creative Risks
When he started being productive, John Spencer started feeling like he has more freedom to put his creativity to test, which helped him achieve some of his goals regarding the ways children can learn in a faster and more interesting fashion.
But, in order to find that innovative way of learning things, he had to take some creative risks and experiment with how students manage their studying obligations.
Apart from that, he had to let go of his fear of making mistakes as a teacher, because no one is perfect and in order to find the best way of doing something, one must take certain risks.
He started from changing focus from centered learning to project-based learning, and he really felt like he is free enough to do it.
That’s why it is very important to be confident in your own abilities and not to be afraid to take some creative risks.
3. Changing Your Practice for Better
One of the crucial steps to take regarding your transformation from busy to productive person is, says John Spencer, to let go of your perfectionism.
He claims that it is more important to focus on tasks that matter the most, instead of trying to solve everything at any given time, because some things are simply not worth extra time and effort.
That is really important because it helps you mark the tasks that are crucial to be done, so you are able to have clear priorities, without having to focus on several tasks at the same time, which often leads to sloppy work.
When he managed to do that, he started to bring that transformation into his classroom, which helped him with his lectures and changed the way he was teaching his students.
4. Become the Author of Your Own Life
One very important thing you should have in mind, not just when you are considering to change from being busy to being productive, but also for every-day life, is to find some free time for some hobby or some type of creative work.
That would help you ease the stress and relax a bit because it is simply not possible to just work, work, work and stay normal. You have to enjoy your life as well.
For example, John Spencer and his wife have an agreement that they both take one day during a week, on which they would do things they are passionate about.
John, for example, every Thursday night he does Genius Hour project, where he creates a sketch video regarding certain novels, which is his personal passion project.
He says that it is important for us to find our own passion projects, to help us relax and forget about stress from work.
5. Use Your Free Time to be Creative and Help Your Team
John Spencer doesn’t really have a kind of team like the ones working in a big company. His team is his class, his students, to whom he should be a role model.
What makes John great teacher is his will to help his students, not just to learn from books, but also to learn from life and their own mistakes.
He often asks himself the question of what is he doing for his students, and would they be able to do those things on their own.
For that purpose, he often likes to empower his students, to let them make some tough choices, in order to help them achieve their full potential and become the best version of themselves, which would later help them when they get a real job and have to make some sort of tough decisions.
He is doing that by letting them manage their own projects, criticize each other works and assess how much they learned by themselves.
HOW TO CHANGE FROM BEING BUSY TO BEING PRODUCTIVE?
Now that we know what are the benefits of being productive, let’s focus on how you can transform from being busy to being a productive person.
It is definitely not an easy process and it will take you some time to adjust to all the changes you would have to make, but ultimately, the payoffs are huge and very helpful.
1. Have Clear Priorities
The first very important thing you need to do when you start your transformation from being buys to being productive is to create a clear list of priorities because not all tasks have the same level of importance.
That’s why it is crucial to set apart those tasks who are trivial and not as important from tasks which should be considered a top priority.
When you do that, you will know the exact amount of time you should spend on certain tasks, in order to avoid wasting time on not so important things and focus on tasks that are of the biggest importance to your business.
For John Spencer, it meant not to spend that much time on tasks such as grading and committee meetings and focus on fulfilling tasks such as assessing students’ abilities and spending more time on structuring lectures and lessons.
2. Learn to Say No
Another step, which is closely related to the first one, is to learn to say no to tasks that are trivial and that don’t matter much.
While doing any type of work, there is a large number of opportunities and projects one is able to take on.
Some are funnier than others, some are easier than others, but in order for your company and you to be productive, you have to accept only projects that are closely related to what you do.
Some projects that are more interesting to do might not always be linked to what you are trying to achieve, so you will have to let go of them and find other more useful opportunities, which would help you improve your work and help you with achieving your goals.
3. Have a Good Schedule to Follow
Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of all important activities and tasks you have to fulfill, especially if you are a person who is very busy.
Hence, it is crucial to work on your active schedule, to plan everything ahead and stick to that schedule as close as possible in order to avoid confusion and missed deadlines.
This doesn’t just apply to your work schedule, but also for your personal schedule. For example, John Spencer has a very clear schedule.
He gets up every morning at 5 o’clock and finishes his work by four. And he gets in bed at nine or ten at most.
So, in order to be successful in what you do, you have to be disciplined when it comes to following a set schedule.
4. Constantly Create New Content
The key to success is constant innovation. It is true for both big companies and individual employees.
Without constant positive changes, no one can survive in this worlds’ dynamic business environment.
That’s why, in order to be a productive person, you have to constantly create new content, meaning that you should always try to evaluate your own work and processes included in that work and to improve them if necessary.
For instance, John Spencer tries to create new content and new ways of presenting that content for each of his lectures and lesson materials.
It is a good way to stay in shape, so to speak, to train your brain not to get too comfortable with one or few different ways of doing things, but rather constantly trying to improve them.
5. Engage Yourself in Doing Some Deep Work
Being focused on your work is one of the ways to increase your productivity and transform yourself from busy to productive person.
One of the ways to increase work focus is the so-called deep work.
Deep work means that you would work on something without any interruptions, whatsoever, meaning that you would be fully focused on your own work, without having to worry about anything else.
John Spencer, for example, tends to come to school one hour earlier, so he involves himself in some deep work until his regular work time.
That helps him do some work that was either left over from the previous day or that is very important for the following lectures.
6. Do the Tasks You Hate First
Ever since we were little and went to school, we all had that one subject we hated but had to learn it in order to pass.
Sadly, that doesn’t stop when you finish school and get a job.
There will always be jobs or certain tasks that we hate.
Some people tend to leave those tasks to be the last on their to-do-list, and there are some who prefer to do work they hate as soon as possible.
The second option is, of course, the right one! It is better to focus on doing work you hate first because it would probably take you the most time to do it and it is not a good idea to leave it for the end.
7. Focus on Doing a Single Project a Time
One very useful skill to have for every type of job is multitasking.
Sometimes it is a good trait, sometimes not so much, because it can just confuse you and drive you away from your actual goal.
Doing multiple things at the same time might give you the look of being hyper-productive, but it actually causes the opposite reaction, simply called interrupted productivity.
It is simply not possible to do multiple tasks and have optimal productivity at the same time. Why is that, you might ask?
Well, the answer is simple.
You cannot focus on one important thing and do it properly, because you would have to switch from task to task.
In that state, you cannot achieve full concentration level and engage in some real deep work.
That’s why it is recommended to focus on a single important project at a time, in order to avoid this cycle of non-optimal productivity.
8. Schedule Rest Periods
As much as work you do is important, it is also important to cool off and relax from time to time.
Constant work can cause a lot of stress and stress is what makes you less productive. One way to avoid that is to create your own rest schedule.
Yes, you read that right! Just like you can make a schedule for your work and appointments, you can also make a schedule for resting because resting is an important part of being productive person, because it lets you cool of and eases the stress caused by your work.
So, after reading this, you don’t have to feel guilty anymore when you decide to take a few minutes of your work and rest because it would actually help you be more productive in the future.
9. Understand the Impact of Being Busy on Your Emotional State
And lastly, in order to transform yourself from being busy to being a productive person, you will have to understand and accept the impact that busyness has on your emotional state.
There is a thing called “busy trap”. It often happens when you are overloaded with work and you have many tasks to do, but eventually, you end up doing nothing at all.
Apart from that, you could feel a bit nervous and anxious about certain tasks and it could lead to overbooking your schedule, making it almost impossible to follow.
That is something you really have to understand in order for you to overcome this obstacle, so make sure you prepare yourself emotionally.
That was everything for today folks!
I hope we managed to clear things up for you and help you realize what is the difference between being busy and being productive and how you could make that change from busy to productive.
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