Many people don’t realise the difference between being busy and being productive. The truth is that if your productive, you don’t have to be busy – it is all about balance and prioritising what is important and what’s worth your time.
Productivity is a measure of results and outcomes which are the result of focussed, well thought out and planned work. Busyness is the opposite – it is all about chaos and thoughtless activity which results little productivity.
How do you increase productivity and decrease busyness?
Start by identifying your key productivity tasks – what 2-3 things account for the bulk of your productivity – once you identify these – spend as much time as possible on these three things so all you can to limit time spent on other tasks – the other tasks are simply a distraction.
Minimise them in any way you can – delegate them, do them less thoroughly (if you can) or don’t do them at all if it means you can focus the time you need on your key productivity activities.
Have fewer priorities
Productive people don’t have endless things on their to do lists. Never keep an action list of more than 3 things to do – that way you can prioritise your time fully on things that are going to be productive or useful to you. Focus on the important tasks and don’t waste time on the tasks that aren’t. If you work in a medium/ large company there will be lots of people who are responsible for some of the jobs on your to do list – make sure tasks are assigned to the right person so you don’t get left with everything.
Work hard and smart
Being productive is a balance between being effective and efficient. Find ways of doing things in a more efficient way, without cutting corners. They key to being effective and efficient is planning. Start by planning your day and eventually start planning your week, month or year. Setting yourself goals and planning how you’re going to get there will help you with this.
Multitasking doesn’t work and prevents you from being productive. Unless you can eat, sleep and work at the same time you’re not an effective multi-tasker – no one is. Being productive is about focusing on one task at a time to ensure it is done effectively and efficiently.
Write a list of what you have accomplished every day
Writing a list of what you’ve accomplished will allow you to reflect on what you have completed and allows you to reflect on how you spend your time and evaluate how much of it is productive. Knowing where you’re going right or wrong will enable you to make the right changes so you can be more productive.
Take regular breaks
Working in 90 minute blocks, taking regular breaks will allow you to focus on the task in hand rather than just being busy. Productive work requires high levels of concentration and it is unrealistic to think you can work at that level all day without a break. The only way you can work without a break is if you’re not working that hard or you are just busy.
Have a mission for your hours, days and years.
Having a mission and knowing what you want to achieve everyday is as important in knowing what you want to achieve in 5 years – in fact it’s more important. By knowing what you want to achieve you can start to plan what you need to do to get there and focus on being productive. By knowing what you need to do will stop you filling your time with unnecessary tasks – those tasks that are a waste of time or are taking you in the wrong direction. Moving fast in the wrong direction is worse than not moving at all.
Making small changes to your habits will increase the chances of you being successful at being productive. Making other small changes such as turning off notifications on your phone, getting plenty of sleep, exercising and seeking clarity on subjects and tasks will also help you increase your productivity.