When you ask somebody, “hey, how have you been?” what do they say back to you? Typically, it’s something like, “good, yeah, super busy.” It’s our default answer to say we’re busy, as though being busy is the good way of being. Almost insinuating that if you weren’t busy, you’re worthless or worth less.
I’d go even so far as to say that as a society, we glorify busy and put those who are go-go-going from morning until late into the night as high achievers. I wonder, though, are those people who are working 14 hour days truly higher achievers than people who might be working more effectively for 6-8 hours?
The problem is that busy is different than true productivity and action. It’s the reason some people are able to get so much accomplished while some look back on a day and can’t remember what they did.
Busy is Ruining Your Life
Multitasking: Our brains were not meant to function well during multitasking. When we do an activity on one side of the brain, then try to do something different on the other side of the brain, you’re really just diverting attention from both activities, taking time, energy and attention. You end up slowing down the brain functioning on both activities, and with decidedly worse quality of performance.
Basically, you’re not getting anything done quicker or better. By multitasking or switching back and forth between tasks, you’re taking a longer time to get it done, the quality is poorer, and you’re feeling more harried and frazzled.
A to do list that’s a mile long: Do you ever feel like your list is mating, right on the paper? Like you’re crossing things off but for whatever reason, it just seems to grow and grow? Busy is letting the list of things dictate your day. There are two things that are probably happening if you’re feeling frustrated about your to-do list.
- You don’t qualify what goes on your to do list. You see something you “should” do and add it to your list. Before you write it down on your list, ask yourself, when does that have to get done? Do I just need to schedule that out? Is this item actually doable today in a 30 minute – 1 hour chunk of time? Maybe I can hand that off to somebody? Perhaps I should say no to this. Whatever goes on your to do list, make sure that it is valuable or will make an impact in your business or life.
- You don’t prioritize your day. At the beginning of the day, you should select the items you’ll definitely get done. Busy people just do things willy nilly and don’t schedule out times during the day to fit those things in. Instead of saying, “I’ll get it done,” try putting it on your calendar and saying, “I have an appointment at 11am with myself to get this project underway.”
Letting your inbox run your day: If you’re constantly being pulled in different directions, it’s probably because you’re running a business in a reactive manner; check your email at certain times during the day; unless there’s a tight deadline or you’re a medical doctor, there’s probably not much in business that is truly an emergency. Close out of your inbox and tackle your more effective to do list.
The Beauty of Productivity
When you’re productive instead of just busy, you actually feel a sense of accomplishment and you can look back and be proud of the progress you made. There is a satisfaction of having completed important and urgent tasks rather than feeling like your time and energy was governed by somebody else’s agenda.
Often since projects are comprised of many small parts, knowing that you accomplished even a small portion of it can contribute to a sense of pride and achievement. Dopamine is released when you set a goal and you achieve it. When you can “chase that high” of finding your own performance success feeling, having those goals each day and accomplishing them would be a way to achieve it.
Tips for Achieving Productivity
- Choose your tasks for the day wisely by prioritizing what you get done.
- Close your email when you can. Don’t let the inbox rule you.
- Set aside time to work on projects that are important to you.
- Quit multitasking and focus on one thing at a time.