Are you busy? I understand that’s probably a ridiculous question for most of you. We all seem to be too busy doing too many things. Busyness seems to be a way of life these days. Our world is fast-paced and loaded with activity. However, are you busy doing the right things?
Busy and productive are two different things. In fact, they can even be opposite things. Productive people are usually busy people. Yet, busy people aren’t necessarily productive. It is important to make sure you are busy doing the right things – the things that move you closer to where you want to go. There are plenty of times in all of our lives when being busy has done little more than distract us from the important things.
If you find yourself being too busy but still not getting the things done you need to, try using these steps to get a different course of action.
1. Identify Important Things
This is critical! One sure-fire way to get stuck doing things that don’t get you closer to what you want is to spend all of your time on the less important. What is really important to you? This question is worth answering whether you are an executive, stay-at-home mom, student, short-order cook, factory worker, or any other thing. What are the important things? Make a list. Put it somewhere you can see it or at least where you will remember to access it. Mine is on the desktop of my computer.
It really is simple, isn’t it? Decide what’s important and do that. Piece of cake. If it were that simple, we would always have the important things done. Well, not so much…
2. Locate Your Typical Distractions?
This is what makes things more difficult. Distractions increase our busyness a great deal. However, they don’t increase our productivity. Often, there are certain things, or at least certain types of things, that distract us from what is important. For example, I just got a notification that I have new email because I forgot to close it before writing. I could check it, read it, and respond to it. However, I know this is a common distraction for me. So, I am choosing to ignore it.
Research on multitasking has shown us that we’re not very good at it. Busy people think they are excellent multitaskers. Recent research has concluded that multitasking simply degrades our performance. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can do multiple things well at the same time. Identify your distractions so you can take the next step.
3. Minimize Your Distractions
It is important that our methods to get rid of distractions are things we can actually do. For example, I could tell myself to not read email for a day. That’s not happening. As much as I might want that to occur, I know me better than that. However, I can close that application while I am writing. I can turn my phone off or put it on silent. I can choose to not take calls I know are going to be relatively unimportant. Find realistic ways to minimize distractions.
4. Don’t do the unimportant.
This is a lot easier said than done. Find the things that have cluttered the last few days of your life. Busyness often involves a lot of time spent on things that simply don’t matter. If no one (including you) will care if it gets done or not, don’t do it or give it to someone else. Don’t waste time, and increase your busyness, doing things that don’t matter. Once you find those things that clutter your life and steal your time, cut them out.
Remember, busy and productive are not the same thing. Make sure you’re monitoring your busyness so that important things are being done.
What things have you used to help yourself be less busy but more productive? Feel free to comment. We would love to hear from you!