Think back to the last time you answered the phone. The caller says, “Hi, how are you?” You respond, “Busy. You?” Wait. What?! Busy? How about, “I’m wonderful! Fabulous! Happy with my life?” Wearing busyness as a badge is not anything about which to be proud.
Why busy shouldn’t be your new normal
If you’re busy, does that mean you’re productive? Not necessarily. Does productive mean you HAVE to be busy? It does not.
Many entrepreneurs and bloggers wear busyness as a badge of honor. They believe if they are busy they have “arrived.” Busyness won’t necessarily bring in money to pay the bills, keep the dogs and cats in kibble or put clothes on your pet’s backs.
Does busy mean you’re accomplished? Not always.
Busy people sometimes find it difficult to keep focused on one task at a time. They don’t live in the moment because they’re focusing on the next “big” task, future events, the next project.
Activity doesn’t always equate to “done.” Activity could mean you’re task-hopping rather than focusing on one item and following it through to completion.
Activity leads to a to-do list that doesn’t have as many check marks of completion as it should. Activity may not always lead to results and is, many times, unrelated to productivity.
Many busy people are disconnected with colleagues, family and friends. Busy people focus on their own commitments to the exclusion of others.
Are you busy or are you unproductive? How can you tell the difference?
Do you find yourself being busy, but not productive? Is your busyness a desire to be rewarded for hard work, even it if isn’t leading to completed tasks? Chances are you have worked with people whose desks are stacked with files and paperwork. They are continually sighing and shuffling papers around. You don’t want to disturb them, right? They must be busy? They look like they’re accomplishing a lot. HHhhmmm, chances are they are overwhelmed, jumping from task to task and not being any further ahead at the end of the day than they were at the beginning of it. Is that you?
If you’re spinning your wheels and getting deeper in the mud, it is time to take a breather.
It might be. You could be busy avoiding a large product or a difficult task. You may be involved in an awful lot of other tasks, but you’re not completing the one you truly need to focus on in order to move your business forward.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It is not enough to be busy. So are ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” That’s my question to you. What are you busy about?
Stephen R. Covey, who wrote, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” wrote, “It is possible to be very busy without being very effective.”
Action step: Look at the project you’re avoiding. Why are you avoiding it? Is it too scary? Do you need help? Are you missing resources from others to get it done? Knowing why you’re procrastinating will help put a plan in place to get it done.
How can you be productive and not just busy?
- Write down all of your projects — large and small
- Set deadlines for your projects — both the large and the small
- Use time blocking or to-do lists to track your tasks… and your progress
- Find an accountability partner with whom you can interact to keep both of you on track
- Put metrics in place and measure your completion of goals. For example, if you want to blog three times a week on your site, that is a measurable goal. What are the results you want to accomplish with that goal? Do you want more eyes on the page? More sign-ups to a newsletter? To sell more products? Action step: Building an editorial calendar will help you with your blogging, I promise! Make one today.
These tasks, one through five above, will help you get focused for 2017. I urge you to take time now, before the end of the year, to make note of all of your tasks, all of the work you owe clients and the personal and professional goals you want to accomplish in the new year. Doing this now will make you more productive and perhaps a bit less busy, in the new year!
Let me know what stresses you. Are you continually busy but not moving forward as quickly as you’d like? Let me know!
Robbi Hess is an award-winning author, full-time writer, newspaper columnist, writing coach and time-management guru. She works with bloggers and solopreneurs and blogs at All Words Matter.