Focus On Being Productive Instead Of Busy

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Focus On Being Productive Instead Of Busy

Do you have days where you feel like you’ve never stopped?

Are your days frenzied and rushed?

Do you repeatedly feel overwhelmed?

Do you spend your days responding to situations?

Do you feel as if you are continually doing things but never seem to get anything accomplished?

Do you finish your day tired and discontented?

Do you feel like you are getting anywhere?

Don’t you hate that feeling, when you’ve never stopped but achieved nothing. With all those responsibilities on your shoulders, your days so often just seem to get so “busy.” Yet many of you frequently get to the end of a very busy day without accomplishing anything productive what so ever.

Think back over the past few days. Were you busy or were you productive?

Do you wake up with a plan for your day but end up being busy doing other things? You get none of what you planned done, and at the end of the day you have nothing to show for all of your time spent being busy. You already know that you can fill a 40 or 50 hour week with activities to keep you busy, but that doesn’t mean that you are actually being productive. Well it does achieve one thing, it leaves you feeling over-whelmed, under pressure and unfulfilled.

A great deal of our lives, and our valuable time and energy, is spent being busy, but to no end. Being busy doesn’t always mean we accomplished what we set out to do. How much time do you waste doing unproductive things?

Busy can be defined as when you are ‘Engaged in action or activity as work, occupied, being in use or full of activity’. Where as Productive means ‘Having the quality or power of producing especially in abundance, effective in bringing goods, yielding results, benefits, or profits. Involved in the creation or making of goods and services to produce wealth or value’.

Busy people spend their time running around trying to do everything they can, but achieving nothing. Productive people actually get things done.

There may be many things you want to do. You could easily fill your day, but there just isn’t enough time to do it all. If you have goals you want to achieve, that will have a major impact in your life,  you have to accomplish more, and to do this you have to learn to be productive where you will achieve more each and every day and successfully be able to realise your goals.

When you are always in a busy, frantic state you are unable to clarify and focus on what will really make a difference in your life. You just fill your time with things that, in one form or another, you will do for the rest of your life, moving you not a step forward. Is this the type of life you want?

It is not enough if you are busy. The question is, “What are you busy about?” -Henry David Thoreau

Be sure to spend most of your time and energy on activities and things that really matters in your life. Being productive means you are putting your energy where it matters most.

Focus on being productive instead of busy. Timothy Ferriss

To achieve success and be more productive, you have to keep working on improving and developing yourself. Well, that I guess is why you visit my blog.

Nothing is easier than being busy and nothing is more difficult than being effective. Alex MacKenzie

So now let us look at how to turn your busy days into productive days.

Step 1: Get Your goals Clear

How can you decide what’s the most important thing for you to do, if you don’t actually know what it is you want to achieve. To make sure you spend most of your time each day productively, you have to keep your goal in mind at all times. It will drive you, make your effort feel worthwhile. You will want to push yourself forward, when you know where it is you want to get to. Without goals you are more like the chicken without a head. When we are not clear about our goals, we often run around feeling overwhelmed because all we are doing is keeping ourselves busy, with no direction.

Step 2: Get your Priorities Right

To achieve productive results in your daily life you have to learn to prioritise. If you do this you will find your Daily To-Do List will be far shorter than normal. Now you will plan and prioritise your day in the most effective way possible. Your daily to-do list should include no more than  three to five top priorities for the day; two at least are those things that will have the most positive impact on your life. Ask yourself this question: “What can I do that will get me the most return on my time?”

Step 3: Focus on one thing at a time

Concentrate all your efforts on the task you are performing at that very moment, don’t multitask. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. To the best of your ability. You can only give something 100% when you focus on it. Complete what you are doing before you move on to the next task. Get it finished! If you multitask you may think that you are being more productive, but in reality you are not.

Step 4:  First Things first

Do essential tasks first. If you’ve got a list of things to do today, and one or two of them are truly essential, do those items first thing in the morning. Don’t wait until later in the day, because they’ll get pushed back as other urgent things come up. Get them out of the way, and your productivity will benefit.

Step 5: Don’t over do it

Don’t commit yourself to more than you can handle, and don’t under estimate how long things will take you. Take on each day what you know you can achieve, and leave the rest to another time. When you know that you have important things to get done, you have to learn to say ‘no’ to any other tasks or responsibilities.

Step 6: Give yourself time for a break

Don’t let yourself get run down or exhausted. You need to get away from work for a time. You need time to clear your head. Take an hour, or lots of 5 minute breaks (not to many mind) The time you take off will be well worth it. Tell everyone that you are unavailable, shut off all communications, shut yourself in somewhere private.

Step 7: Avoid Distractions

You can be really well intentioned, knowing what you need to get done, yet distractions can so easily push you off your path. To name a few things that can really eat away at your time I’d include telephone calls, emails, and for us bloggers social media sites where we end up chatting for way to long to our friends. My personal pet hate is text messages. There I may be totally absorbed in my creative flow of writing a blog post, my phone beeps telling me I have a text message. If I ignore it, 15 minutes later another arrives asking if I’m still alive. Thank god for the silent button. Without these distractions you maybe surprised by how much more you can get accomplished. .

Step 8: Master the moment – Be Present

Stay present with whatever it is you are doing at every moment, whether you are working, spending time with your children, or your friends, be totally focused on what you are doing.  Always focus on the task at hand. If you’re with somebody on the phone, do only that. Be there in the conversation. If you’re in a meeting, be present. If you’re doing a task by yourself, focus on that. Forget everything else.

Step 9: Get Organised

The more organized you are the more time you will have because you will not waste time looking for things, and you will be more efficient.

Step 10: Don’t Procrastinate:

When you procrastinate something important because you don’t want to deal with it you try to get busy with other things that don’t really matter. You get busy talking on the phone, dealing with other people’s problems and issues that are not yours, walking around the office or the house trying to find something else to do.  Don’t procrastinate; you have to do something important and urgent to do, as the advert says ‘just do it’.

Step 11: Reflect on what you have accomplished

At the end of the day, reflect on and celebrate what you have produced today. This reflection is important to your sense of achievement.

These steps will help you strike the right balance between being busy and getting things accomplished!

Every time you catch yourself busy doing things that don’t really matter, say this to yourself: ‘Is this being productive, if not I must stop and move on’.

As a productive person your level of satisfaction is going to be so much better. You go to bed at night knowing that you had a great and productive day and that you are going to make tomorrow even a better day. Life can be so great.

“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” Tony Robbins

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About the author: Larry Lewis
My name is Larry Lewis, Health & Wellness Life Coach, Founder of Healthy Lifestyles Living, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently featured in the Sunday Mail Newspaper and somebody who went from being an owner of a chain of gyms and fitness fanatic, to a visually impaired overweight and incredibly sick person. Read about my illness to wellness story.
19 Comments
  1. Bec Owen August 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    You’ve mad a really important distinction Larry…between being busy and being productive, and you’ve clearly explained the difference between the two. When we tune in to our inner knowing we always feel clear-minded and energized…your suggestions offer a way for us to do just that.

    Congratulations on another wonderful post!

    • LarryLewis August 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Becky it is such an important difference. I see so many people that are so stressed by their schedules, they’re virtually too busy to find time to breath. Yet they’re able to produce so little. If only they would learn, sometimes less is more

  2. baldychaz August 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Sounds like my working day except add smoke lots and occasionaly flap hands around oh and nearly cry (just dont tell anyone that though)

    • LarryLewis August 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Charles as I know you are a funny man I can only assume we are talking about tears of a clown.

  3. sulekha August 16, 2011 at 4:40 am

    Graet tips, though I do most of the things that you mentioned..I have one major flaw, procrastination 🙂

    • LarryLewis August 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Sulekha. You are not alone. Procrastination is something that affects many. To beat procrastination, you need to increase your motivation to do each task on which you are tempted to procrastinate.

  4. Alpana Jaiswal August 16, 2011 at 7:08 am

    If you don’t give yourself something to aim for you’ll never hit anything. I try to be realistic with the goals I set. There’s no point in knowingly setting a goal so high you’ll never reach it. The key is to know your limitations and to work within those boundaries. Setting daily and weekly goals helps me to focus my efforts as well as giving me a way to measure my progress.
    Thank u for this great post.

    • LarryLewis August 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm

      Aplana. Absolutely right. Set yourself up to succeed by having realistic, achievable goals that challenge and excite you. I am committed to make a positive change in the world and I focusing on what it is I want daily

  5. Jessica Brant August 16, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Larry,

    You are always there to keep me centered with my eye on the target at all times.

    xoxoxox
    Jessica

    • LarryLewis August 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      Jessica. I have seen you as a goal oriented, adventurous person excited and motivated by your targets, loving a challenge, all I do is offer a little encouragement, and lots of extra motivation. both you and

  6. rimly August 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Now I know there is a difference between being a busy bee and productive bee! I dont make myself busy or productive most days Larry (no wonder my ass is getting bigger!!) but when I decide to do something I think I achieve at 80% of what I set out to achieve. I dont make lists on paper but in my mind and as I finish one work after the other I tick them them in my head and believe at the end of the day the sense of achieving something is a great high. Keep motivating us Larry

    • LarryLewis August 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      Rimly. I am here for you always. Yours words inspire me, but you know that. I also know that you are capaable of achieving anything, you just have to get your ‘ass’ moving.

  7. LarryLewis August 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Pamela. Thank you. Continually bringing myself back to the present moment makes sure I not only am at my best right now, but that I will be going forward to the future.

  8. Lorri Ratzlaff (@lorrilou) August 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Excellent post! I have been the “busy” one for far too long, and have only recently realized the shift that needed to happen to productive! You make so many great points in an easy to follow format! This post will benefit most anyone!

    • LarryLewis August 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Lorri thank you so much for your lovely comment. I am glad you have woken to your ‘busy’ habit and now you’re on the path to being productive. Now you know i’m here, hopefully i can assist you on the journey.

  9. Adriene August 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Excellent post, Larry. It is so seductive to fill the days with activity instead doing meaningful work. For many, it’s a way of filling loneliness or running from their problems.

    • LarryLewis August 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

      Adriene thank you. Every day i wake alive and raring to go. My work is my passion, i do what i love, and to me that is the only way life is intended to be. But we have to find it first, know what we want, and where our passions lie.

  10. LuSundra Everett August 22, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Larry, This is my first time visiting your blog! Being a PD junkie, I will surely return and share what I read!

    • LarryLewis August 23, 2011 at 11:30 am

      LuSundra thank you for the comment. You are welcome any time. As i’m fascinated by a certain subject now, i’ll be popping along to your blog lots in the future.

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