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

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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.

Being busy is about working hard on many tasks that keep you occupied all day long. When you’re busy, there’s no limit to the number of things you can add to your to-do list.

Being productive is also about working hard on tasks. But to be productive, you have to be focused, and purposeful. When you’re productive, you focus on one thing at a time.

To be productive you must find efficient ways to complete what’s important, and get rid of the things that keep you running…but get you nowhere.

The task completion app I created at work made such a difference in taking my team from busy to productive, I began looking for other strategies and tools that could turn the unfocused busy work into focused productivity.

Along that journey, I found actions, mindsets, apps, and a book that transformed my days from crazy to focused. And now, I want to share them with you.

Here are 11 things you can try that can have a big impact when making the move from being busy to being productive.


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