There is a difference between having a lot of things to do and getting a lot done. But, we’re often told that being busy must mean that you’re productive.
Productive by definition means “achieving a significant amount or result,”while busy is “having a great deal to do or keeping oneself occupied”. The very difference between the two is that productivity produces results. Being busy just means using (or in some cases wasting) a lot of time and probably not getting the end result that you’re looking for. So how do you know if you’re really being productive? Here are 7 ways to determine whether you’re good at keeping yourself busy, or super productive.
1. Busy people find it hard to prioritize. Productive people have (only a few) priorities.
We’ve all heard someone say ‘there aren’t enough hours in the day’, I’m sure you’ve even caught yourself saying it a few times (I know I’m guilty🙋🏾♀️). How would you feel if I said there is no such thing as being too busy?
If a task, project or objective is important to you, you will find a way to incorporate it into your timeline. Having three or four priorities allows you to stay focused and work towards achieving the desired result. Having 20 priorities creates a headache and doesn’t give you time to complete anything. So when you find yourself running out of time, ask yourself if you have prioritised too much.
2. Busy people have “things to do”. Productive people have a mission to complete.
Busy people hide their lack of focus by creating a longer list of things that should be done. There isn’t a sense of direction in their actions, just a multitude of things that consume their time.
Productive people are on a mission. Their actions are driven by the conscious decision to achieve a particular result and everything that they do is geared towards it.
3. Busy people always say yes. Productive people know the power of saying no.
Busy people often over promise and under deliver. In their attempt to fit more into their never-ending to-do list, they take on projects and make promises that simply can’t be kept. They often do this with the best of intentions(after all we can’t complain about the person who wants to help everyone). But you also have to know when it’s time to help yourself, and that comes with knowing when to say no.
Productive people understand that time is of the essence and that, to produce quality work, they need to have time and space. They say no, not to upset people, but because they’re aware of their limits. Because sometimes you have to be a bit selfish to get things done.
4. Busy people focus on “doing”. Productive people gain clarity before taking action.
Documenting your decisions can be one of the best things that you can do. It allows you to clearly understand how your actions are having an impact on your life and what you need to do in order to progress. Taking mindless action doesn’t produce a lot of results. We live in a world where people are more interested in updating Instagram than they are proactively monitoring their personal growth. Don’t fall into the trap. Make sure that everything you do is inspired by your personal mission.
5. Busy people have too many options. Productive people focus on a few.
Everyone goes through a stage of wanting to do it all: to travel, save money, move out of home, get a degree, learn a language or get promoted at work. However, you do get to a point where focus becomes a necessity. You may want to do all of those things, but it is impossible to do them all at once. If this year, I want to start saving for a deposit on a flat, it’s probably not the best time to book flights to travel the world. So make sure that you know what you have to trade off in order to get what you’re aiming for. Remember there has to be some short term sacrifice for long term gains.
6. Busy people talk about time flying past. Productive people talk about what they’ve achieved.
As they say: work hard in silence and let success make the noise. Busy people might have a lot to do and not too much to show for it. Not because they aren’t capable of doing better, but because they are channelling their energy into for too many things.
Productive people can tell you exactly what they have achieved in the past few days, weeks or months because progress is their aim.
7. Busy people multitask. Productive people find their focus.
Focus can do so much for you.
In theory, multitasking seems like a great idea. Why not kill two (or more) birds with one stone? It sounds like you’re getting double the amount of work done in a shorter amount of time. But, what it really means is that you don’t finish many tasks because your time has been divided. Productivity is completing a task to a high standard and doing that requires focus.
There are plenty of great ways to do this. If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique – check it out! You set a timer to 20 minutes and the aim is to focus on one thing and should you get distracted (by checking your phone, running off to get water, surfing the net), you have to reset the clock. Brutal? Maybe. Effective? Most definitely.
Think about how much you could achieve when you’re being productive. Don’t allow your potential to go to waste by consuming your time with ‘busy’. Instead of focussing on how much you have to do, focus on how completing each task will bring you one step closer to achieving your goal.
So many people are fed up with their corporate jobs and seek to start their own business. You want to get out on your own for your passion project or the thing you know will bring in more money than working in the corporate world. Entrepreneurship is calling. I get it! Been there and done that. What most people don’t realize is that you can learn a lot about starting a business from your corporate job. Embrace what you have while you wait because there are so many lessons to be learned and used from your current position on your entrepreneurial journey.
When I started my own business I didn’t necessarily see myself leaving the corporate world. I always thought that I would be a professional and a professional side hustler at the same time. Well, the funny thing is that I’ve changed my mind. Throughout my corporate life, I have been receiving all of these opportunities to learn about business without always knowing they’re setting me up for my future goals.
Let me explain!
Many of the concepts I’ve learned in the corporate world are transferable to running my own business when it comes to the overall idea of entrepreneurship. For example, if you are in customer service, you should be soaking up all of the training you’re receiving from your current job in order to best serve your customers at your own company in the future. If you’re responsible for training at your corporate job, learn to be the best at it because you will eventually be training your own staff.
Here are some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my corporate career that have played a hand in starting my own business.
During my time in business development, I was fortunate enough to take a Dale Carnegie sales class. If you know anything about Dale Carnegie, then you know the classes are informative, powerful and…expensive. This 8 week, $1,800 series was not something my little pockets could pay for at the time. Let’s be honest, I would struggle to pay that now!
The workshops in this series taught me public speaking skills, how to close a sale, how to network, and even the proper guidelines for following up with a lead. Of course, all these skills were necessary for the role I held with my previous employer. But it as paid off – A LOT. These skills translated very well into my current role. In my own business, I have the know-how and the confidence to pitch clients and land successful deals. Everything I learned was worth its weight in gold.
Even if it’s not a Dale Carnegie class, I encourage everyone to take a sales course in order to learn how to present yourself and close any deal!
What’s that Jay-Z lyric? Oh yeah. “Numbers don’t lie.” As a business owner, it is imperative to know how to analyze data. You have to know your past, current, and future standings. Whether you’re looking at your business revenue or the results of your services, you have to know!
The proof is in the pudding. When you can show the results in numbers, it helps close the pitch and also demonstrates the success of your efforts. For example, if I can show my clients that I’ve been able to successfully grow their social media accounts by a certain percentage within a specific time frame and that I’m meeting the goals we’ve set, that gives the client an idea of my importance and value to their business. This is why they NEED me and need to keep PAYING me. Understand what I’m saying?
Networking is like going to the gym. You hate it, you don’t want to do it, but you push through and make it there anyway. Go you! Sometimes you complain through the workout but, when you leave, there is a feeling of accomplishment. If you network and make a good connection – even just one – it feels even better.
I had the opportunity to go to as many networking events as I wanted in a previous position. This opportunity taught me the art of climbing social ladders and developing genuine business relationships.If you have the opportunity to network or even take meetings with those you typically wouldn’t have a chance to interact with at your company, do it! That person or group of people may be a huge benefit to the business you will run in the future.
Knowing how to network is also a great idea because it gives you a chance to expand your knowledge from those outside of your lane. As an entrepreneur, your favorite kind of person needs to people who help people. And you need to be one. What connections are you making? What opportunities are you taking? How are you constantly learning?
Now, put these things to task
These three areas of opportunity are just topics I stumbled upon. I wasn’t focused on entrepreneurship at the time. Now, I specifically ask to see what I need to know. For example, I now have a pretty good relationship with someone in the marketing department at work. I plan to ask this person to take the time to go over Facebook ads with me. I need to dive into this particular world and the information is sitting right there for FREE! You know I’m not going to pass up that opportunity.
Don’t be scared to ask. If something you want or are interested in is outside of your current role, volunteer and give a helping hand in the area you wish to discover. Everybody needs help and by helping you’ll learn more. In this case, you’d be doing someone a favor in rturn by helping with their workload (and doing yourself a favor in the learning department, too).
I say all this to say that the business or businesses you currently work for had to start somewhere, just like you. They are most likely using tried and true tactics when it comes to hitting business goals (and if they’re not, it may be time for you to seek a new opportunity!). Your journey is your journey for a reason. Don’t miss the gems in front of you by being an antsy pants and only negative about your corporate job. Think big picture and beyond the desk you’re sitting at. Take it all in and focus on learning the things that will ultimately make you the greatest success at your business.