Busy or Effective?

So many of us run around like the proverbial chicken with it’s head cut off.  We rush around from one task to the next at work.  We zip around to one event after the other at home.  To the son’s baseball games, to the daughters volleyball tournaments.  We have never ending to do lists.  At home we have to mow the yard, we have to help someone with homework, we have to drive someone to practice, we have to clean the house because the Johnson’s are coming over for cocktails and canasta.  I don’t even know what canasta is, it just rhymed.  Point is, we are super busy.  Too Busy

But are we effective?  That’s the question.  It’s EASY to be busy, everyone can do that.  It’s harder to be effective, not many people do that.

How to tell if you are being busy or effective:

1. Busy people have many priorities, productive people have few priorities.  One of my own personal cardinal rules in life is this:  Nobody is ever too busy, if they care they will make the time.  It is really that simple.  Life is a question of priorities.  If you have 3-4 main priorities, you have priorities.  If you have 25, you’re a mess.  The best way to tell if you are a priority in someone’s life is to watch how much they make time for you.

2.  Busy people keep all doors open, productive people close doors.  The power of saying “NO” is amazing.  Yeah, a lot of people will think you’re a selfish dick but do you really care a lot about those people anyway?  It’s okay to say no.  Saying no and closing doors allows you to focus on less things with more time and intent, thus making them priorities.

3.  Busy people talk about how little time they have and how busy they are, productive people make time for what is important to them.  Show me a man that seems to only spend his time on his work, his relationships, his health, and one big hobby and I’ll tell you that man is focused on what’s important to him and probably sailing a clearly set path with a calm mind.  Show me a man that tries to do 50 things in one day and I don’t want to know what’s going on in his head.

4.  Busy people multitask, productive people focus.  if you know about the Pomodoro technique then you know exactly what this is all about.  Identify a task that needs to be done.  Set a timer for 20 minutes.  Work on said task until the timer sounds.  If you have any, and I mean ANY distractions that take you off task (check email, check phone, go get water) then reset the timer to 20 minutes.  How many pomodoros do you think you can do in a day?

5.  Busy people respond quickly to emails, productive people take their time.  For all you cube farmers out there, this hits close to home.  Email is handy list of priorities.  Funny thing is they aren’t yours, they are someone else’s.  If you respond to every email you are taking away from your own productivity.  Remember the king of email advice – Delete, Do, Defer.  That’s it.

6.  Busy people talk about how they are going to change.  Productive people are making those changes.  And they don’t waste time telling you about how they are going to change and what they are going to do.  You know why?  They don’t care what you think or want your approval.  And most importantly, they don’t waste their time or effort explaining how they are going to do it.  They just do it.  Thanks Nike!

All my Best,

Mat A.

Sydney Harbor

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2 Comments

  1. Hey there! I found your article very interesting and informative. I agree with your article being busy doesn’t mean that you are effective or productive. Being effective is hard than being busy. And being effective can finish something perfectly than people who are busy and does many things. Most of the time I’m busy but I’m not sure if I’m effective or productive. Can a person be a busy as well as productive?

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for stopping by and checking out the post.  Glad to hear your thoughts and appreciate you sharing them.  I like to think I can be busy and productive at the same time BUT it’s easy to get focused simply on what I “need to do” and sometimes have to raise my head up and ask how important is what i am doing in the grand scheme of things.

      Thanks!

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