Are You Productive Or Just Busy?

Have you ever gotten to the end of your work day and wondered, “What did I do all day?” Do you find yourself busy, busy, busy but not really all that productive? Here are some short thoughts that just might help you out with that.

The other day, I was talking to my son about his homework load for the night. He didn’t have much so I assumed it would get done quickly. After an hour, I went down to his room to find him watching YouTube videos. This, of course, made me think that his homework was done. I was wrong. He hadn’t even started. Hunter’s amazing teenage logic was that procrastination is inevitable, so why fight it. I’m sure that I unintentionally rolled my eyes and sighed. Sometimes, the lack of motivation is frustrating.

Fast forward to today. When I stopped for lunch, I had four projects left to do in the afternoon. Plenty of time. I went back to my desk after lunch motivated and impressed with myself. Immediately I saw that I had received a few new emails while I took my lunch break. My head told me to ignore them and get my list done … but I opened them anyway. One of them contained contact information for the social media coordinator for an event I am speaking at in a few months. As a responsible speaker, I opened Facebook so I could connect with her. A half an hour later, I closed Facebook. When the email popped back up, I realized that I hadn’t even connected with her. My legitimate reason for getting on social media was forgotten before the site even came up. I had just wasted 30 minutes of time doing nothing productive!

It is easy for me to criticize Hunter for not doing his homework; but I hate to admit that I am the same way. I even made it a personal goal a few weeks ago to be PRODUCTIVE and not just BUSY; and I failed. It is easy to get distracted when your office is in your home – laundry, house cleaning, kids coming home, dogs barking, messes that beg to be cleaned up before you start work, and don’t forget the lure of social media. My goal now is to take work a little more seriously and make sure that I am working during work hours.  I even think this applies to people who work “real” jobs. I read a report that says that the average worker spends 1-3 hours doing personal things while at work every day. Assuming they work an 8 hour day, that means that the average worker spends up to 38% of their work day not working. And I think that a lot of the time we are “working” we aren’t being productive. And we don’t even consciously know we’re doing it. We are busy … just not productive.

I heard Darren Hardy speak at few years ago at a conference. He talked about his early career as a real estate agent. He was very successful, but he worked hard to get there. He said that he would actually time how many hours he spent working – and it only counted if he was actually being productive. Walking to the mailbox, walking to the bathroom, opening email, etc didn’t count. He would not let himself quit for the day until he had the desired number of productive hours. He challenged everyone in the audience to start tracking productive hours, and be prepared to be shocked at how low it actually was. Until recently, I didn’t think I had that problem.

Now, I have written several lists of things that I need to get accomplished. These lists involve marketing, content creation, website upgrades, etc. I am embarrassed to say that these lists sat the entire summer with nothing getting crossed off of them. Now, it is my objective to cross one thing off of each list every single work day. Even though it seems small to do one thing on each list every day, I am starting to see progress.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself busy but not productive? Let’s start tracking our productive hours and do what it takes to start making progress toward reaching our goals!

What do you think?

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