Busy vs Productive: There is a Difference & How to Make the Shift

Does any of this sound familiar to you? You’re up with the dawn, ready to start another day. You have a huge to-do list with some really important items on it that you have to get done. You rush around all day, barely stopping for a bite of lunch. Then, when your workday is finally over, you realize there are still important items on your list you didn’t finish. But how can that be? You rushed around like crazy all day. You wasted no time. How is it possible the most important things on your list didn’t get done? Feeling tired and defeated, you decide there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

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I know how it feels.


That’s how things felt for me, not too long ago. Home, family, work, and the Paperless Movement keep me going from dawn until dusk.

Things at my day job were particularly busy.

Some of my responsibilities as a team-lead are: troubleshoot, delegate, answer questions, problem solve, answer emails, answer phone calls, and attend meetings. 

All of this busy work comes in a never-ending stream that someone has to attend to. But while I’m busy answering questions and putting out fires, my own task-deadlines continue to draw near. It can be exhausting. 

This is the scenario that inspired me to tackle unproductive busy work by creating a task-tool for my team at work to manage our projects and workflow.

Did it help? It did.

And it got me thinking.


All the time I was running around not getting my important tasks done, I was legitimately busy. Sometimes I felt like I was running my head off. But I still wasn’t completing my most important tasks without a lot of extra time and headache.

So if being “busy” all day wasn’t an indicator of getting things done, what was?


I realized I was mixing up the idea of being busy with being productive.


First, I needed to define the difference between being busy and being productive. I knew that being productive feels good, and being busy doesn’t.


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