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Always Busy, Never Productive

Have you ever encountered someone who absolutely loves to complain about how busy they are? They take busyness as a virtue and brag about how their overwhelming list of unverified duties precludes them from going to that event, or finishing that task they promised to help with. They are simply too busy, and as a result, very important.

However, the truth is, we are all busy. As adults we have responsibilities and obligations that can fill our time and our minds from handling the kids, to our careers, to keeping up house and dealing with the bureaucratic efforts of life. Despite the chronic stress, there’s a certain satisfaction that we get from having our hands full. We get the sense that our own value increases along with the more tasks we absorb. But what if you were told that busyness is less of a desirable quality and more of a definite sign that you are not optimally productive?

Tim Ferris, author of the productivity bible “The 4-Hour Workweek” famously said “Focus on being productive instead of busy.” Productive is participating in activities that get you closer to achieving a specific goal, where being busy fills your time. Productive is knowing what is important, busy is treating everything with urgency. Productive is being focused, busy is multitasking. Busy isn’t a badge of honor one should wear and use as an excuse to default on commitments. If you’re too busy, it may be a clear sign that you are not productive.

Productivity also relies on having systems in place to ensure that tasks that directly correlate with your goals get done. Some excellent resources to study to devise such a system are the previously mentioned 4-Hour Workweek book and “Getting Things Done (The Art of Stress-Free Productivity)” by David Allen. However while you wait for these transformative books to download on your Kindle app, try some of these tips today to start getting out of the habit of busy and into the mindset of productivity:

1) Have Clarity

Be clear on your goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Where do you want to be by the end of the year, in the next 3 years and the next 5? Write them down. Now break those major goals into smaller goals that you can work on daily. What is the first step? When will you complete said step? Every night before you go to bed, write down your goals for the next day and make sure they correlate with accomplishing your long term objectives.

2) Get Organized

If your desk is a mess, your house in disarray and you never use a calendar you are hindering your productivity and inducing busyness. If you spend too much time looking for items, for files on your desktop or trying to remember appointments, you are wasting valuable energy that can be allocated to accomplishing your dreams. The most productive people have their space in order and have systems in place that make daily tasks easier and stress free.

3) Identify and Eliminate “Busy Work”

Are you spending too much time crafting emails? Pick up the phone instead. Do you spend hours creating the perfect social media post? Use design apps and a scheduler program. Do you find yourself running around doing countless unimportant errands? Drop them. Be conscious of where you are putting your time and how you might be wasting it. Shed all of those unhealthy busy habits and delegate where possible or drop the task all together so you can focus on higher priorities.

Implementing a productive lifestyle is one the most important things you can do for your future, your stress levels and even your health. Change your mind-set in the way you view being busy and get rid of this idea that accomplishment means having your hands full with random tasks. If you start your productive journey today, imagine where you will be a year from now.

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