Many people see being busy as a badge of honour, believing it shows that they’ve got important tasks to handle, and that they work hard to earn their income. This goes hand-in-hand with the assumption that people who have free time on their hands are not as important or don’t work as hard as those who are always rushing busily around.
This simply isn’t true. Being busy isn’t the same as working efficiently. Busy people who constantly multi-task across different projects often lack organization and planning, which can increase the amount of time it takes to complete tasks by 25%. Being busy isn’t necessarily a sign of success, either – particularly if the pace of work is unsustainable.
If all this sounds familiar, this free time management test will help you assess how you’re coping with your workload and make necessary adjustments to your to-do list and schedule. In the meantime, here are some more reasons why being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re productive:
1. Long list of priorities
Busy people have a long list of priorities and struggle to complete everything. They don’t know how to sort their projects according to priorities and are forced to juggle them or multi-task. A long list of priorities makes you less productive and more prone to making mistakes.
Productive people narrow down their list of priorities to ensure they’re manageable on a day-to-day basis. This helps them handle every task or project at one time and complete each of them efficiently and in a timely manner. When you work this way, you have some free time to yourself at the end of the day and aren’t as busy as most people in your position would be.
2. Taking on more projects than they can handle
Some people like to be the go-to person and take on more tasks or projects than they can handle. They don’t know how to say “no” and accept tighter deadlines, new projects, new tasks, etc., without considering the impact these additions would have on their schedule or productivity.
Productive people understand the value of saying “no”. They have a fixed schedule prepared beforehand and don’t accept any changes or additions unless it’s truly urgent. They also carefully consider how much time each task or project would take, before they add it to their schedule. If you struggle to say “no,” here are three guilt-free strategies that should make it easier!
As mentioned before, multi-tasking can reduce efficiency by 25%. It can also add to your stress and make you feel dissatisfied and lost at the end of the day. People who multi-task are also more likely to make mistakes and deliver poor results. According to research Microsoft has conducted, it takes the brain 15 minutes to refocus on a task after it’s distracted. If you switch between two different tasks, you’ll take longer to complete them both.
Productive people focus on one task at a time and get it done before moving on. Because they’re not distracted when they perform the task, they can complete it quickly and efficiently. At the end of the day, they get more done than people who multitask, and so feel more accomplished.
4. Easily burn out
Busy people are constantly on the go and fill their schedules to the brim. They don’t allow themselves any breathing space in between tasks. Your brain can become fatigued and you’ll feel its effects in the form of regular exhaustion. Most adults can remain focused on a single task for 20 minutes. You can study or work for 90 minutes before your brain starts to drift away and lose concentration. This will eventually lead to burnout and stress. This article will help you identify whether you’re experiencing burnout and give you some coping techniques.
Productive people are aware of these limitations and often segment their day effectively. Once they have finished one task, they take a small break to refresh their mind before moving onto another one; this helps them avoid burnout and stress. They are able to maintain high energy levels and work enthusiastically, which makes them more productive.
5. Getting involved in the process
Busy people are very process-oriented and focus more on the smaller details rather than the bigger picture. They’re also perfectionists that spend more time than they need to on any given project. As a result of this process-oriented approach, these individuals are always busy and stressed. They don’t receive any satisfaction from their job and eventually lose all enthusiasm for it.
Productive people are result-oriented and will take the most effective, efficient, and comfortable approach to their goals. They won’t spend unnecessary time on the details; instead, they focus on the quality of the results. This ensures they get things done quickly and on schedule. They also gain more satisfaction from their efforts and feel better at the end of their workday.
You can be successful, productive, and hardworking without being busy. You just need to plan your day, learn how to say no, delegate some tasks, and focus on personal development. This will help you avoid stress and ensure you have a more balanced lifestyle. The lower stress levels will also have a positive impact on your productivity and skills, so your performance at work will improve, too. You can’t lose – so give it a go.
In what ways can you improve your productivity by not being ‘busy?’ Tell us about it in the comments.