Do you know something I can’t stand in business?
It’s the concept of ‘busy’.
People say it and, in the process, convey the impression they’re successful, they’re effective.
They might be successful, yes, but if I ask them what they’re working on and they can’t tell me exactly what they’ve been doing — or what they have lined up for tomorrow — they’re conveying a different impression to me.
And it’s not one of effectiveness.
Disorganisation. Poor planning (if any). Lack of progressing.
That’s what I’m hearing.
That’s because being busy and being productive are two very different things.
The difference between being busy and being productive
It’s easy to confuse the two.
Don’t get me wrong, the world of business is fast and furious, but if you have a million and one priorities and then some, you can’t be productive. You’re just being busy.
You’ve got to establish just a few priorities and distinguish between what’s important and what is just urgent, address the important stuff and get it done. That’s being productive.
If you’re filling up your to-do list with more tasks than you can possibly get through, that’s being busy.
Being productive is about focusing on just a few tasks and completing them. In true productivity, there’s no room for multitasking.
….And that old phrase ‘There’s not enough hours in the day’…. is it something you say? If not and you’re making time to do things (without running yourself into the ground), that, my friend, is being productive.
Do you find yourself into the ‘busy’ category just now?
It’s time to change.
Stop being busy. Start being productive.
It’s about good time, task and priority management.
Manage all these things better and you can really get stuff done in your business.
I have a few little tips to help you manage your time better and be more productive.
Recognise when you’re most productive — and protect that time
As you perform your duties, you’ll start to notice there are times when you work better.
Perhaps you write your reports quicker in the morning. Maybe you complete strategic planning work faster after lunch.
These productive hours are precious, so don’t spend them making phone calls or responding to emails. Set them aside for the relevant tasks and protect it as much as possible.
Save times when you’re less productive for ‘half-tasks’, such as invoicing or responding to emails. You could even outsource some of them.
Know the difference between important and urgent
Responsivity can sometimes be a big productivity killer.
A phone rings. An email comes in. You have a deadline to meet. They demand an immediate response, which makes them urgent, but does it make them important?
If it carries you closer towards your long-term aims or will it have a major impact on your business, it’s important. Note that a task can be urgent and important at the same time, so you should prioritise it.
Some tasks are important but have no deadline, such as planning. The decision is up to you whether to do them.
Other tasks aren’t as important, but they’re urgent, such as responding to certain emails or making transport arrangements… Why not delegate these to a freelance PA or VA?
Then some tasks you just need to drop. They’re neither important nor urgent.
Establish what’s important and what’s urgent, and you’ll be able to prioritise your tasks and manage your time a lot better.
Tackle important tasks in the morning
This is a major time management trick.
A big task can drain you. You don’t want to cross lots of little tasks off your list and still feel as if you’ve got a mountain to climb at the end of the day.
So, get important tasks out of the way in the morning. It’s when you have the most energy.
You’ll feel good for the rest of the day.
Delegate or outsource
As I mentioned, some tasks are urgent but not important. If you don’t tackle them, they become pressing.
You don’t necessarily have to do them, though.
Do you have a subordinate who could take care of them?
If not, have you thought about using a freelancer? This is a handy way of getting things done and could also save you money.
Be productive, not busy
Saying you’re busy might impress a lot of people; but not me.
And that fabulous feeling you experience with so-called busyness will subside, eventually, leaving stress to step in and replace it.
Now, managing your time effectively and getting things done — that’s much more like it!
Focusing on the important and not letting the urgent blindside you.
Delegating tasks and freeing up your time to do important tasks.
Capitalising on your energy reserves to tackle big tasks first.
Protecting your productive times and saving the less productive times for smaller tasks.
‘Yes’ to all of those.
Then your eye will start to fall less on the clock and more on the growth of your business and/or how you’re going to spend the time with your family.
And I’ll take those over being busy any day.