Productive or Busy?

Ever wondered why your so busy and your desk looks like the scene from the movie The Intern? The answer is simple; You’re “busy” but not “productive.” Well, then Mr. Smarty Pants. How do I get from being “busy” to being “productive”? I’m so glad you asked, or well, I asked. The answer falls under the skills of time management.

dbf72c437043efa3daf5a30a59dd44aa                                           Photo credit from Pinterest. Movie- The Intern

Time management is a skill that is acquired over time. You can learn about it of course. But learning about time management and actually putting it into practice or utilizing it is about as polar opposite as it gets. It would be like studying theoretical concepts of management versus actual management.

So now let me show you a few reasons why time management is important to you and your productivity.

  1. Time is limited no matter how you slice it. There are only 24 hours in a day. That applies to you, and to your coworker who only seems able to do half the amount of work you do. But it also applies to the former coworker who consistently accomplishes more than you, and was promoted as a result. If you want to rise through the ranks, you have to acknowledge the importance of finding a way to utilize your time.
  2. You can accomplish more with less effort when you learn to take control of your time, you improve your ability to focus. And with increased focus comes enhanced efficiency, because you don’t lose momentum, and the principle behind the commitment is to build momentum.
  3. Time management helps you make conscious choices so you can spend more of your time doing things that are important and valuable to you.

Managing your allotted time of the day can provide you with a large advantage. I know it can be difficult but try a few things just to start. Try it for a week and be consistent.

  1. Try to wake up earlier. (Not going to bed later.) Did you know that if you only woke up 15 minutes earlier, every single day you would gain 5,475 minutes after a year! That also equates to 91.25 hours or 3.8 days. It seems small, but over time, it adds up. Eventually, work yourself up (or back) to waking up at 4 AM. You cant imagine the difference waking up at 4AM will provide you. Let’s reverse engineer that too: If you woke up at 4:00AM instead of say 7:00AM. That would be 3 hours each day gained. That would be a total of 1,095 hours after a year or 45.63 DAYS! That’s over a months worth of time you gained of productive hours. Start at 15 minutes. Just try it and tell me I’m wrong. (Or Right)
  2. With so much to do and so little time to do it, be organized. Schedule EVERYTHING. (No, not your bathroom habits.) Stick to the rules that if it’s on the schedule then it must be done and done on time. A simple outlook calendar works here or even the calendar on your phone. One that provides alerts or reminders. Be sure not to schedule your self too thin, in other words, leave some room in between items for lag overs.
  3. Focus on the task at hand. You may be on top of your schedule but if your thinking about another item and veer off course because all of the sudden things are coming up that are more important or are weighing on your mind then you will become overwhelmed even by the calendar, the very tool that is supposed to help you. Stick to the item you scheduled. Tell people you will call them back. You wouldn’t want to talk to them anyway if you couldn’t devote your full attention to them at that time anyway! Same applies to your tasks. Set your tasks, and work on them. Focus on them and get them done.
  4. Lastly, eliminate the non-essentials. Not just on your calendar but everywhere. Having too much going on in the home can be a burden you take with you while at work. You’ve spent so much time and money on junk at home that has begun to clutter not just your home, but your mind as well, placing additional stress in the back of your mind. Simplify things. Do you need 25 coffee cups from your vacations over the years, sitting in the cupboard? Do you need to have a packed closet with clothes you never wear? Nic-Nac’s all over the place? You may not think of these items as a bad thing, but having too many things places an unconscious stressor in your mind. You think of the care these items need, cleaning, organizing etc. Having these stressors can slow you and your mind down, thus killing productive time.

I would have to say, that most people walk around each day in a zombified state of mind. Heads looking down at their phones checking their social media feeds 350 times a day. We can’t even go to the bathroom without a device anymore! They appear to be busy, but certainly not very productive. I have even witnessed high-level executives that are busier than they are productive.

three person holding smartphones
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You must keep your daily goals right there in front of you. Put in on your calendar each morning to create three (3) goals you want to accomplish this day. Before logging out for the evening, check the list to see what remains. Sometimes its hard to come up with them, so keep it simple unless there is a very important goal that needs you, but on those days where it seems to be a routine day, set the goal to say something like, Wake up 15 minutes earlier or Take time to read the newspaper. Just keep it simple on that day. Remember not to attempt to put everything on the daily goal list, that is why you have a calendar. Think of it this way, busy people have many priorities, productive people have few.


    Photo credit Pinterest

Another difference is in the thought of “multitasking.” I have to tell ya, I’ve never met a person that was able to multitask and give their 100% best in anything. Busy people multitask. Productive people focus on a task at hand. The task they time blocked their calendar for.

Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? Set a timer to 20 minutes. Work on the task time slotted until the timer sounds. Any distraction (I must check email, I must make a call, I must go to the check this or check that) and you reset the timer to 20 minutes. When the buzzer sounds, you place a checkmark on a piece of paper. You want to see how many checkmarks you can get in the day. The highest I’ve reached has been 11. It is truly hard to keep your mind on track. It took me some time to reach 11 too. For days it seemed, I could only get 3 or 4 check marks, I was always having to reset the timer because I had to go use the bathroom and grab a snack, even check an email (or 100).

Listen, you can go out and spend a ton of money on seminars and tools for time management, people make a killing off of it, but really it’s simple. It’s so simple that it is usually overlooked. Keep it simple stupid! Wake up earlier and tackle your day with a purpose.