You Were Busy Yesterday, But Were You Productive?

Busy or Productive

We all have those days that pass like a whirlwind.

You don’t get a free moment to catch your breath.

You might even skip (or forget) to eat.

At the end of the day, you feel like you have run a marathon.

However, while you might have done many things, were they the right ones?

Busy Doesn’t Mean Productive

You were busy yesterday, but were you productive?

Even though you completed many tasks, today you still find the same important projects staring you in the face.

Why didn’t you get to them?

Was it because you were too busy doing everything else?

“Getting many things done means you were busy. Getting the right things done makes you productive.” (Tweet this Quote)

But, how do you tell if you are being productive or just busy?

Separating busy tasks from the important ones is key to producing results versus simply running yourself ragged.

Here are 5 Signs That You Are Busy But Not Productive:

  1. Too Many Meetings – If you spend your entire day in meetings, you probably aren’t productive. Meetings don’t get the hard tasks done. They don’t get creative work done. And they keep you from being able to spend time doing the work.
  2. Doing Other People’s Work, Instead of Your Own – If you spend all day doing other people’s work, then you will never get to your own. Take a hard look at whose work you are actually doing. Make sure you get yours done before taking on additional work.
  3. Living for the Fire Drill – Some workplaces live for the fire drill. Make sure you separate the urgent from the important. You may have to say no to an urgent item in order to stay on track with an important task.
  4. Only Doing Menial Tasks – Small unimportant tasks often get done first… because they are easy. While these tasks can be good for building productivity momentum, make sure that you don’t spend all day doing the trivial.
  5. Stuck in Your Email All Day – If you don’t get out of your inbox during your day, I can guarantee that you won’t be productive. Email isn’t your job. Stop endlessly responding to emails and instead take action.

Busyness Doesn’t Get the Job Done

Doing many things doesn’t mean you are effective.

When evaluating your day, instead of asking yourself if you got a lot done, ask if you got the right things done.

Then you can answer… “Were you busy or productive yesterday?”

Question: How do you avoid the busy tasks in order to do the productive ones? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

14 thoughts on “You Were Busy Yesterday, But Were You Productive?

  1. To answer your question, I use Evernote as a To-Do list and a Priority Organizer. I usually tackle the smaller tasks that I’d describe as “busy work” first but I make sure I engage in the actual important work. It is really easy to mistaken busyness for productivity though and some days where I thought I was productive… Well, I was actually just busy.

  2. Great post. I think it all comes down to being results oriented. Action does not equal results. If you keep in mind what you want to have as your results and measure each activity as it comes up whether it contributes to the end goal or not you will know what you need to do or not.

  3. Any time I need a kick in the butt when it comes to being practical about how I’m managing my time, your advice puts me back in check every time. 🙂

    The good thing is I’ve cut the term meeting almost out of my life, which has helped a ton. I especially love tip #5 though. I needed the reminder to close my email down. It’s been open all weekend and I haven’t gotten a darn thing!

    Thanks as always for sharing your advice!


  4. Whenever a meeting gets called, ask if you really need to be there. It’s such a terrible waste of work hours. You will probably be appreciated better for opting to be pro-active, and simply read the notes from the meeting later. Or are there managers out there that disagree??

  5. Being productive often comes down to being efficient. If you knew that in order to get some particular job done you would have to use a buggy software system you would come up with “busy” projects to avoid it, right? Those projects that have a lot of fits and starts are often the hardest to get through because you never feel like you’ve built up any steam with them.

  6. Evaluating on a daily basis is a good advise. I always knew that when you start monitoring your reps on a daily or hourly basis, their performance improves, But I never thought of applying these self monitoring, self reporting idea. Its a good one, I will put this in my blog too.

  7. This is so true. We tend to be busy but we’re not actually doing anything, just wasting our time with things that we mistakenly consider to be important. Being busy isn’t the same as being productive.

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