What is the difference between being busy vs being productive? In this tutorial, we look at the difference between the two, and some tips to help with your productivity.
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In our modern ‘always-on’ world, there is a constant demand to be always busy, and to be seen to be busy, and responding to everything immediately, and getting tasks done straight away. It can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed.
The economist Cyril Northcote Parkinson, once wrote that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Or, to put it another way: workers will increase their efficiencies, if they feel there is less time to complete their task.
John Spencer, the editor of Pop Culture and Society, has four rules for understanding the difference between being busy and being productive:
– Being busy is frantic, while being productive is focused.
– Being busy is fueled by perfectionism while being productive is fueled by purpose.
– Being busy is about working harder while being productive is about working smarter.
– Being busy is about being good at everything while being productive is about being great at a few important things.
Solutions to be being busy
What does it actually mean to be ‘busy’ anyway? It means having a great deal to do. When you are constantly busy, you may feel like you have a lot going on. However, in reality, you are probably accomplishing very little! By overloading yourself – because you think you have to, or possibly because of your work culture – you are affecting your ability to complete tasks in the long term and within your role. An added danger is that your personal credibility will suffer as your task and project failure rate increases.
So what’s the solution? You need to rest your brain, take stock, step back, pause in the moment, and be brutally honest about what you can and cannot get done. First, you should develop a new understanding of the dangers of being busy and ‘always on’. And then you can move to a new understanding of the difference between what is urgent and what is important. And ultimately you achieve a better work balance.
00:00 The difference between being busy vs being productive
00:33 4 rules for understanding the difference between being busy vs productive
01:03 What does it mean to be busy?
01:57 The Decision Matrix
05:35 Being productive
06:20 Productivity in action
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