Business, Startups, Success

Are You Busy Or Productive? 11 Ways To Know The Difference


What sets busy people apart from people who are super productive? What do you aspire to be?

Here are 11 differences you should know.

1. Busy people want to look like they have a mission. Productive people actually have one.

Busy people fake it ‘til they make it – they act confident even if they are unsure of their next steps. Productive people, may be unsure of the little steps,  but they are clear on their destination.

2. Busy people are all about creating things. Productive people think about improving the way things are created.

According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your desired results come from 20% of your activity. Henry Ford made a name for himself not by building bigger, faster cars, but by creating a more efficient system for making cars. Busy people try to make bigger, faster cars; productive people go behind the scenes to develop a better system for making cars.

3. Busy people say yes quickly. Productive people know when to say yes and NO.

Warren Buffet defines integrity as having the ability to say no on most things.

Productive people know when to say “No”. By doing this, they don’t spread themselves too thinly and do projects just for the sake of completing them.  Having integrity means you know your values and that your time will be spent adhering to those values.

4. Busy people act immediately. Productive people are clear on what they want before they act.

Before making any major move, take the time out to reflect. Keep a journal and spend 5 minutes every day to assess what happened during the past few days, what worked, what didn’t, and what continues to inspire you. This will give your future actions direction and purpose.

5. Busy people keep all doors open. Productive people know which doors should be closed.

Young people want to pursue many things and wear different hats all at once – they want to travel, learn languages, take up further studies, move to another country, and so much more. While there’s nothing wrong with this, there should come a time where those options are shortlisted.

If you want to move to another country, create an action plan, and set a deadline. But if your goal is to move to another country while doing things like travelling, learning a sport, and investing in a car … you will not accomplish your primary objective on time, if at all.

6. Busy people always talk about how busy they are. Productive people let results speak for themselves.

Writers, artists, and performers don’t talk about their next project as they are in the process of creating it. Their past performance should be the only gauge of their future performance; don’t base the latter on what they say.

Also, learn the difference between feeling productive and actually being productive. One can feel productive while playing online games, while another can feel unproductive while brainstorming for an advertising campaign which could translate to millions of sales. This will help you decide where to channel your time and skills.

7. Busy people believe that they don’t have time. Productive people make time.

Time spent on making excuses is time not spent on being creative and productive. Productive people don’t use having or not having time as a reason to do anything. They do tasks because they believe that these support their values and goals. If the tasks don’t contribute anything to their development, then they don’t do it altogether, even if they have days to spare.

The saying “It is better to do something than nothing” is not true. It is better to sit still and rest than do something not aligned to your core values.

8. Busy people are all over the place. Productive people focus.

Learn how to focus!

Try the Pomodoro Technique: Identify a task to be done, such as writing a blog post. Set a timer to 20 minutes. Work on that task until the alarm sets off. If you encounter any distractions, reset the timer for another 20 minutes. If you get the urge to check emails and social media, you’ll have to reset the pomodoro. The fewer pomodoros you have, the better!

9. Busy people can’t wait to answer emails. Productive people take their time and gather their thoughts.

Other people’s emails are their priorities, not yours. Frantically responding to every email puts you at their mercy – you are pressured to meet their demands and not be on top of the tasks you should be focusing on.

Review your inbox and categorise your emails into: Do, Defer, and Delete. Doing this frees up your time for crucial to-do’s on hand.

10. Busy people expect others to be just as busy. Productive people expect results.

Busy managers measure performance by the amount of hours and days employees put into a project. Productive managers evaluate output. Busy managers feel frustrated when they see colleagues looking fresh, relaxed, and enjoying their work; they want these people to share in their agony and stress. Productive managers, on the other hand, prefer to be surrounded by people who love their job and thrive in a creative environment where everyone can contribute ideas and excel.

Busy people want to be valued for their effort. Productive people want to be recognised for the results. Ultimately, productivity is about valuing the journey towards excellence, and not just the individual moments.

11. Busy people talk about the changes they want to make. Productive people make those changes happen.

Productive people don’t spend time talking about what they plan to do. They focus on what they have done, what they have learned, and things that have inspired them.

Like productive people, focus on making that first step towards accomplishing what you have set out to do. What can you do now that does not have to be approved by anyone? How can you utilise the knowledge and the resources you have now? Take the time to ask yourself these questions ASAP. If you want it bad enough, believe that the universe will conspire to help you achieve it.

All of us are born with incredible potential, and to not harness that potential 60 years down the line will be truly a waste.

Go on, get out dare and create something amazing. Surprise yourself!


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