The Thin Line Between Busy and Productive

Keeping busy is something we all desire. We want to make it look like we aren’t lazy, living the #teamnosleep life and always working. The busier we are, the more important we are, right? It means that we’re doing something right. Preoccupied to the point that nothing else matters means that we’re accomplishing things our peers aren’t. Sometimes we truly are working towards our goals and achieving things we need to get done, but, we’ve all ran into the pattern of being busy saying we’re busy than actually getting things done. Society has taught us that busy is a status we must reach because busyness equals success.

Night & a day (left)  click to purchase

Night & a day (left) click to purchase

Sorry to burst society’s bubble but being busy usually means you’re not being productive. I’ve grown to hate the word ‘busy’. I rarely use the word even when I’m booked up from morning to night, I still don’t consider myself busy. I don’t expect everyone to be this way; I know I’m obsessed with being a better version of myself everyday and never seem to think enough is enough. I know when I say I’m busy, that in actuality I’m holding back, and that’s not effective. If you still don’t think this relates to you, try to remember the last time a friend called and you responded “Sorry, I’m busy” even though you were sitting on the couch binge watching Game of Throne. Or when you were invited to a networking event full of powerhouses in your industry and you immediately said “I’m busy that weekend”; when you really meant you only had an open bar brunch to go turned up at. I’ve trained myself that saying “I’m busy” was just an excuse to not go after things I really want to do, avoid hard conversations with someone or to just make it look like I’m doing all I can.

Some of my biggest influencers are Jay-Z, Diddy and Kanye West, not because of their musical talent but because their drive and use of their time. Even with multiple business ventures, a staff to manage and family to support, they seem to still find time to build their empire. A schedule of appointments, lunch dates, meetings and phone conference doesn’t necessarily equate to you being productive. Have you ever felt like you’ve been booked all week but haven’t accomplished anything? That you’ve been working all month but it seems like nothing is getting done? All the meetings and events you’ve attended and you haven’t found time to sit down with your mentor and go over your business plan. Sometimes is our job, life, family that’s pulling us left and right that we just haven’t found the time to practice our craft.

I’ll admit it, I use to get sucked into the busy train that I wasn’t truly getting anything done. There was a time that every weekend I was vendoring at events, out of town visiting family, and free time just didn’t exist. My time management skills were horrible and my body was exhausted daily. It took me being real with myself and seeing that I wasn’t really accomplishing anything. Sorta like a kid pushing around peas on their plate, I was just throwing things in my schedule so that I had things to do. Staying ‘busy’ plays off our fears of doing, trying and saying what we feel to avoid the true outcome. Whether the result are good or bad, sometimes being busy to try to kill time is better than trying and not getting the results we’ve dreamed of. We keep putting off submitting our work for a grant proposal, resume for the new position, or sitting down with a manager, brand consultant or mentor.

saying something out loud is a way of manifesting actions in your life

Like most things in the world quality over quantity is the best way to go. Keeping ourselves “busy” is how we get distracted and procrastinate on goals. Maybe it’s time to take out some of the busy work and start focusing our time on a few things to get where we’re going. Changing one’s mindset to be busy less and productive more is hard, but I have a few tips that can make it possible.

  • Schedule 45 minutes sessions of productivity. This is time you spend actually working towards whatever you had on your to do list. No distraction, just plain ole working.

  • Allow yourself 1 time a week to use “I’m busy” as a way of getting out of doing something. No ones perfect and every once in awhile skipping out on something is good.

  • Instead of saying you’re busy, say what you’re busy doing. Not only does it help you be accountable for what you’re doing, saying something out loud is a way of manifesting actions in your life.

  • Don’t overbook yourself. Give yourself time to recharge and refocus so that you can be productive.

  • Start saying ‘no’. Everyone and everything doesn’t deserve your free time. Time is money so start acting like it.