A fully packed day seems productive, doesn’t it? You’re moving from the moment you get out of bed until the moment you go to sleep, and even then, you check your email before drifting off to dreamland. Are you really being as productive as you could be, though? The trouble is, most people haven’t learned how to tell the difference between being busy and getting things done. Take a look at your daily activities and ask yourself — am I being productive?
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Am I being productive in my day-to-day life?”, read on to learn to tell the difference between being busy and being productive.
To Do, or Not to Do
We’ve all got to-do lists that feel like they’re a mile long, and getting longer by the day. We add new tasks to them — even though we haven’t finished the tasks we already wrote down — and get ourselves in an endless cycle of to-do craziness. Many of us reach a point where we become chained to our task lists and start reflecting on the question, “Am I being productive?”
Being busy can be a trap even the best of us fall into — you might be running from sunup to sundown to get all your tasks done, but chances are, you haven’t been terribly productive during the day. You’ve just been busy. Instead of running around like a headless chicken trying to get everything on your list done every day, take a few minutes to prioritize your tasks and strategize when you need to accomplish each item on your list.
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It’s a hard change for anyone who’s used to the traditional to-do list — you might feel like you’re not getting enough done during the day, when in reality, you’re getting more done, by being more productive with the tasks you choose to complete.
Make Goals, but Keep Track of Them
Making goals is important — it’s something our parents and teachers have ingrained in our heads since grade school. Unfortunately, in many cases, no one bothered to take time to teach us how to set achievable goals and how to keep track of our progress as we make our way to the finish line. There’s nothing wrong with having goals, but if you don’t keep an eye on your progress, you’ll have no idea how far you’ve come or how far you still have to go to reach your goal. Look at your goals and ask yourself — am I being productive in my progress toward these goals? If the answer is no, you’re probably just spinning your wheels and staying busy.
This is actually one of the simplest ways to be productive rather than busy — keep track of your accomplishments. You don’t need to set up a portfolio or anything fancy or complicated. Just make a note of important dates, and keep them with your detailed plans to help you reach your goal. The medium for this may vary depending on the type of goal you’ve made. If your goal is to lose weight, a fitness app like MyFitnessPal could provide the tools to help you track your progress, for example.
We live in a fast-paced world where everyone feels tremendous pressure to be constantly connected, via phone, text, email or social media. Don’t fall victim to this pressure — you might seem like you’re getting a lot done when you check your email every five minutes, but you’re not being productive. You’re just busy.
Surprisingly, you’ll end up getting even less done — the human brain isn’t wired for multitasking, and by diverting your attention away from your task to check your email or answer a text, you’re making it more difficult to complete the task at hand. Instead, schedule some time in your day to check and answer emails and texts. You’ll be able to give your responses your full attention, and you won’t negatively affect the rest of your overall productivity.
After you’ve read this, take a look at your normal day. Ask yourself — is there anything I can do to make my everyday activities more productive? If so, you know where you need to start to make the necessary changes to enable you to be more productive at work and in your daily life.
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