I learned that being busy is different from being productive. Just because your hands do a lot of things and your feet go to a lot of places, does it mean that you are being productive. You can be very busy but accomplish nothing. You’re just wasting your time and energy in the process.
How can we determine if we are being productive or we are just being busy? Let’s try to differentiate the two.
Multitasking vs focusing on one task at a time
Sorry to disagree with many, but multitasking is a myth. While it is great to do things simultaneously and it sounds too productive, in reality, it is not. Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t do tasks simultaneously but just switches tasks quickly. Imagine a crossroad where cars just stop and go. Each time we move from listening to music to writing a text message or talking to someone, this stop and start process goes on in the brain.Sorry to disagree with many, but multitasking is a myth. While it is great to do things simultaneously and it sounds too productive, in reality, it is not. Click To Tweet
I once believed that multitasking is possible. But rather than make things easier and my outputs better, what happens is the opposite. Since there is little to no focus, outputs end up with low-quality. You might look productive with many tasks at a time, but you’re compromising quality. Focus on one task at a time instead.
Values completion vs values progress
A busy person’s primary goal is to complete his tasks, and as I’ve mentioned a while ago, sometimes at the expense of quality. This is a bit hard to explain but let me try.
If we are busy people, we do things to make sure our tasks at hand will be done the soonest possible time. Failure to do such will choke us up on our schedule and will overwhelm us to a certain point. So we do our best to do all the things given to us because, since we are busy, we still have other things to attend to.
When I say we value progress, we do tasks, not just for the sake of finishing it, but so we can learn from it and devise a way to improve our processes. We grow through what we go through. Next time we encounter the same task or situation, we already know how to deal with it efficiently and effectively. That’s progress. We’re improving.
No plan vs organized calendar
Another difference between being busy and being productive is when it comes to time and schedule. A busy person has no organized plan. He just strikes while the iron is hot. While it works on opportunities, when it comes to tasks at hand, having no plan might lead to failure. As cliche as it sounds but if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The reason why busy people are always preoccupied is that they have not yet devised an effective plan to make their schedules work for them.Productive people are organized with their schedules. They make sure that tasks are properly addressed right on time. Quality is of utmost importance, so they make sure their schedules work for them. Click To Tweet
On the other hand, productive people are organized with their schedules. They make sure that tasks are properly addressed right on time. Quality is of utmost importance, so they make sure their schedules work for them. Plus, they also have time for other things such as family, leisure, and rest, which are equally important.
Bonus: Rushed vs relaxed
Busy people are always rushed, always seem haggard. This is mostly due to the overwhelming tasks they have on their lap. On the other hand, productive people have more time to relax because they have learned how to focus on one task at a time, they have learned various productivity techniques as they progress, and they know how to make their schedules work for themselves.
Please don’t get me wrong. Many of us identify ourselves as busy, and we do well! But the major point of my post is to say that being busy, or doing too many tasks doesn’t mean we are being productive.
As Cambridge dictionary says:
- causing or providing a good result or a large amount of something.
- having positive results:
It is not about the number of activities, but the output.
Do you consider yourself a busy person, or a productive person? Tell me more in the comments.