Be Productive, not just Busy

“In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” ~ Author Unknown

We all have the same 24hrs, allocate 6-8 for sleep and what are you doing with the rest of your time? In the absence of clearly defined goals the rest of your time will vanish into thin air!

Goals are of the utmost importance. Let’s face it a lot of people are going nowhere fast. Are you one of them?
We tend to confuse being busy with being productive, this is very misleading. If you have been ‘busy’ all day and have nothing to show for it then you’ve fallen foul of this all too modern phenomenon.

Hours whittle away as you are ‘busy’ on Facebook or other social media, as you go about a job in the least efficient manner, and as you perform tasks slower than you should. The latter can be due to a number of reasons, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, maybe the tasks are new and you haven’t found the quickest way yet, but more than likely it is because you are trying to do too many tasks at once. This leads you to being a very busy, but probably not a very productive individual.

To simplify the concept, think of your productivity correlating with your attention and consider your attention as a percentage. Focusing solely on one task means its getting 100% of you attention so your productivity is more likely to be very high. Imagine if you are trying to focus on TEN tasks at once (think too many tabs open on the computer!) then each task is only getting a small percentage of your attention and as this percentage decreases so too does your productivity.

Consider it another way, your output will reflect your input, and this is the case for most things in life. If you only put in 10% of your attention to a task, you only get out a relative amount of productivity.

So how can you get round the problem?
How can you become more productive?

Set goals, weekly, monthly or quarterly. Set goals, stay on track and review. If you have an idea of what you want to do/achieve – WRITE IT DOWN! Clearly and add as much detail as you can.

When you find yourself going off track – reassess the situation, review your goals, weekly or monthly, do you need a new direction or can you stay on course to reach your goal?

Make yourself accountable! So you’ve gone off track, identify why? And try to avoid this in the future.

General rule of thumb if it only takes 5 minutes then do it now, don’t let small tasks build up, for example replying to an email typically takes 3-5mins, replying to 10 emails 30-50 minutes!

Priorities tasks – which are most important and of these which needs to be done first?

Allocate 10 minutes every 2hrs for social media – Be strict with yourself and set the alarm on your phone if you need to.

If you have a business allocate 1-3 Hrs one day a week to source and write content for posts, you can use Hootsuite to time-deliver these. Do not allow social media to encroach on other aspects of the business that needs attended to. (If you have a blog, online forum, or work with clients using an online format like Facebook then obviously allocated time will be longed.)

Keep your phone on silent when you are performing tasks that take a lot of concentration and brain power. You may be on a roll but nothing will scupper that quicker that the ding of your phone!

Don’t overdo the coffee, you’ll get a quick buzz of clarity and productivity and then crash, leaving you feeling groggy and unfocused.

Ensure that you are well slept, eat a nutritious diet that includes plenty of healthy fats to fuel brainpower and stay well hydrated!

Naomi McArdle MSc
PTI Tutor

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