RapidFire: Are You Productive…Or Just Busy?

March 25, 2015

RapidFireHave you ever gotten to the end of a day (or a week) and thought, “Wow, I was really busy, but I feel like I got almost nothing done!” I hear this from clients every week, so I’m guessing that my larger readership experiences the “busy, but not productive” phenomenon as well.

What is “busy?”

“Busy” is when you’re active and moving around. You might feel rushed, you might feel like you’re doing a lot of things. But busy doesn’t always mean you’re getting things accomplished. Busy doesn’t always get you to your goals. Busy might actually keep you from achieving your goals.

What is “productive?”

“Productive” is when you’re productive. You’re getting things done, checking off items on your “must get done” list, and you’re making strides toward your goals. In essence, you’re producing.

Do you want to be busy and productive?

Generally, when I get to the end of a day, I want to feel like I’ve made progress toward my goals. I want to look at my “must get done” list and feel like I’ve made major progress in completing tasks that lead me somewhere. I want to know that I have moved in the direction of more clients, more projects, and more business growth.

Sometimes I am able to be productive without having felt at all “busy.” I don’t need to feel like I was frenzied throughout my day. I don’t need to feel like I was grinding. I just want to be able to look back at my day and know that I made progress toward my goals.

How to make the transition from “busy” to “productive”

One of the biggest reasons why we engage in “busy” activities is because they make us feel like we’re doing something, often when we don’t know what to do. So the first step to knowing what to do is to create a smart plan. Here’s how to create your own smart plan.

Step 1: Set the destination.

The most important place to start is to know your destination. When you set up your GPS system in your car, it first asks you where you’re going…then it looks at where you are now to determine the best path to get you where you want to go. When I work with a client, whether it’s a coaching client or a marketing project client, we start with “Where do you want to go?”

Step 2: Figure out where you are now.

Then, just like a GPS, we move into “Where are you now?” This includes looking at what you’ve tried and what’s worked and hasn’t worked. That way, we can eliminate what hasn’t worked (or figure out where efforts went wrong or needed to be improved) and can focus our attention on things that actually work.

Step 3: Set the course.

Now we need to set the course. This course is the path we’ll take to get you where you want to go. Until now, everything has been kind of “big picture stuff.” This step is where we move into a granular space where we identify the specific actions that will actually get you where you want to go. And within each activity, we can start to establish tasks to get each action completed.

Step 4: Take productive action.

Once you’ve clarified the tasks that need to be done in order to get each action accomplished…take productive action and start working on the tasks you’ve identified as important. And stop doing the things that aren’t important.

This step is often the most difficult. For example, let’s say that you’ve been spending a lot of time in social media, thinking you’re growing your business, but when you look at the data, it shows that you get very little business from social media. Then we either have to look at how you’re using social media and improve it so that you get the results you want, or you should just stop spending so much time in social media for business reasons. It’s often very difficult for people to grasp that social media is not the end-all, be-all solution to their business problems (another blog post on that in the future), so it can be very difficult to get a business owner to accept that maybe you don’t need to spend so much time in social media. But if it’s not getting results, stop doing it (or stop doing it that way).

Productive Mindfulness

Ultimately, we want to get you to the point where you’re checking in with yourself, constantly asking, “Is what I’m doing right now going to get me where I want to go? Is this activity productive?” If the answer is “No,” then STOP DOING IT and start doing something that is going to get you where you want to go and will be productive.

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