Being Busy vs Being Productive
How often to you asking someone, “How are you,” and their response is, “So busy!?” It’s like we pride ourselves on how busy we can be. We try to fill our to do lists with as much stuff as we can. Every hour of every day is planned, and that makes us feel like we are moving in the right direction. How many people like that do you know? More importantly, how many people like that are you trying to emulate? My guess is not many.
Instead, you want to be like the person who appears to be successful even though they never seemed to . . . busy. That’s because these people know how to be productive.
Being busy means getting as many things done as possible, whether big or small, in as little time as possible. Often times, everything being completed is small because there is not time for the big things.
Being productive means being intentional about the tasks you complete because you know those tasks will move you forward toward a goal.
An example of this is easy. When I used to practice the law more often, I dreaded drafting long legal documents. In fact, I dreaded drafting just about any legal document. The time needed was always enormous because you can’t just sit down and start writing. You have to narrow the legal issue. Next, do your legal research. Then, you have to organize your research and craft your argument. Finally, you have to draft your document in a certain format set forth by the law. So, I used to spend tons of time on small things, like organizing and highlighting the associated case law. Or, I might go to my colleague’s office to discuss the case. It was all procrastination, but I felt like I was busy. So, I was accomplishing something.
Three Questions of Productivity
To help you avoid simply being busy, you can ask three questions:
- WHAT are you doing?
- WHY are you doing it?
- WHERE will accomplishing it take you?
If you can’t answer one of these three questions, you should try doing something else. If you can answer the questions, but the answers don’t satisfy you, go do something else. Something more productive.