Being Productive vs. Being Busy: What’s the Difference?
By Elisi Studios
At first glance, being productive and being busy appears to be the same thing. We see someone who is working with something at their desk or someone else heading somewhere with a determined look on their face and are often impressed. However, it turns out that one of those people is being productive while the other is simply being busy. What’s the difference?
Being Busy as a Form of Lazy
There are some people who, depending on their personalities and the circumstances that they’re presented with, get into the habit of being busy as a purposeful means to pass time in the easiest way possible. This is a form of self-imposed busy work. It’s especially common amongst those who are paid on an hourly basis as they often don’t have an outside incentive to be productive during their time. As long as the hours are put in, that’s what matters to them.
Having Too Many Plates
Then there are those who are as productive as they can be, but they have put their energies into too many plates at once. They were always taught to give 100%, and they have defined that to also mean that they must be as involved in as many different areas as possible. However, the result of that is that something needs to give, and that is often something that shouldn’t be what’s giving, like family and self-care.
Benefits of Being Productive
Something that surprises many is that moving their focus from being busy to being productive really does allow them to do more with less with the things that are not as important but that are still important. In other words, spending more time with family might result in less time at the office. However, being able to physically and mentally recuperate from how busy they were before often allowed them to be much more productive at work with the time that they did spend there.
This is the biggest difference between the two. It’s not simply the hardest-working person who experiences successes in life. It’s the one who works smarter and who focuses on what’s truly important to them when they look deep within themselves. Is joining yet another committee worth spending even less time with your family, with working on your physical health, taking some “me time”?
It’s okay to say, “No.” Of course, if you feel bad about passing up on something, communicate that too, but, if it’s in your own best interests and in the best interests of those you care for if you don’t partake in it, politely turn it down, and focus your time on what does interest you, what calms you and what centers you.
Keep Things Simple
If you want to be productive, not busy, simply keep your life, well, simple. Whenever possible, focus on one task at a time. Of course, multitasking will be necessary from time to time, but minimize it, and don’t take pride in being able to do it for long periods of time. That type of work is too taxing. Also, you cannot dive deep into something and really hit the flow of productivity if you’re constantly switching tasks.