I am always busy, but I am not always productive. I think many people take great pride in being busy. It’s like saying “look at me, I must be important as there is just not enough of me to go around, so many people need me and my time.”
What I really want is to be PRODUCTIVE, not busy. If you are addicted to being busy, here are 4 steps to help you move from just being busy, to getting things done.
1. Have a plan! If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, your day will be spent on distractions. Email, what to have for lunch, that stain on your clothes, office politics, Google image searches, and shuffling papers can fill your day. You may even feel like you accomplished something because at the end of your day you are tired, and you were BUSY all day long! To stay productive you need a short list of items you want to accomplish in plain view taped where you have to look at it all day, and allow that list to redirect you every time you see it. Check you goal “compass” throughout the day to stay on course!
2. Do it completely the first time. Don’t write or ask imprecise questions that then create new questions. Ask for specific information or instructions, and then repeat it back to make sure you heard what was said. Just trading something back and forth is being busy. Completing the task is being productive.
3. Stop giving away your “life gold.” If you don’t value your time and attention, advertisers, and unfocused people will steal your life gold. You have so many minutes to live, so start asking yourself before you start taking on a task “Is this worth my life gold?” Lao Tzu understood this when he said “Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.” I would rather enjoy the beauty of watching the wind rustle through the trees while letting my mind go blank, than sit in a meeting that I don’t need to be at, or managing email. When you are dead, no one will say “Wow, her email inbox was almost empty!” If you can’t be actually productive, don’t wear yourself out with busy work, stop and recharge your batteries.
4. Simplify everything! Say “NO” to requests if they do not help you focus on your goals. Reduce your possessions to those that you actually use. Each possession will take more life gold. You have to care for it, repair it, polish it, dust it, and remember where you put it. Choose any new possession carefully, as it quite possibly will be with you for a lifetime. Say yes to opportunities or charitable requests that will allow you to be productive in areas of interest that touches your heart. Volunteering for a church or school event isn’t busy work if you heart and mind agree it’s a good use of your life gold.
Furiously answering emails and engaging in office politics may seem like you are getting something done, but in the end, if nothing changes due to your efforts it’s just busy work. Start making small observations and changes each day to focus on what you want to produce with your time and effort. Visualize a shinny gold coin dropping out of your pocket every 10 minutes when you catch yourself being distracted from your chosen goals. You can’t have that life gold back, it’s gone. You spent it! Now decide what you want to spend your next irreplaceable gold coin on! Ingrain this mind picture into your daily life and it can help you spend your days more wisely on the goals and people that you have decided are truly important to you. If you spend your life gold consistently on ONLY those goals and people that are important to you, you will be truly productive every day!