There is a common misconception that people who are busy are the most productive among us, and those who aren’t engaged in tasks don’t get as much done.
Being busy doesn’t always result in maximum productivity, and it might even cause individuals to feel so swamped that they don’t tackle their tasks very well at all. Keep reading to learn several key differences between busy people and productive ones.
1. Productive People Have Fewer Priorities
The more you multitask, the greater the chance that you’ll become so distracted that you become overwhelmed. With that in mind, realize that productive people tend to have fewer priorities than those who consider themselves to be busy.
Having fewer priorities allows people to focus more fully on the things they feel really matter, which enables them to work more efficiently. Often, they have systems in place that are tried and true, so they immediately know what’s necessary for them to do in order to get as much work done as they can.
2. Busy People Focus More On Actions
If you meet someone who is very busy, you’ll potentially notice how they take great pride in having a to-do list. That’s because people who are consistently busy are generally very action oriented. To them, the key is being able to feel good when they check items off their lists.
In contrast, productive people typically strive to think as clearly as possible before taking action. Sometimes that means they may appear to be working more slowly, but their approach pays off in the end because they’re less likely to make errors since they thought things through.
3. Productive People Let Their Results Speak
Productive people typically don’t have to launch in-depth discussions with others about their processes because they know the outcome of the things they do will speak louder than they could through words. Put simply, the hard work they put into things is obvious, so there’s no need to talk about how busy they are.
In contrast, people who often describe themselves as busy might specifically engage in conversations with others about all the things they have to do. Maybe that makes them feel validated in their actions, and they hope that by speaking, they’ll inspire others to get similarly motivated.
4. Busy People Often Take Too Many Steps To Reach The Outcome
It’s common for busy people to ask themselves whether anything needs to be added to their processes. Even when things are going well, they’ll often keep adding extra steps because they think doing so makes them more thorough.
In contrast, productive individuals consistently remove steps from the tasks they carry out, as soon as it becomes evident that certain actions are not necessary. Furthermore, productive people also realize how effective it is to delegate tasks to others.
There may be some instances where they know there are too many steps in a process, and they can’t handle all of them independently. In those instances, they entrust others to do those steps for them, which means the tasks still get done, and the productive people don’t get burned out. Perpetually busy people, on the other hand, often fail to delegate and end up getting quickly overwhelmed.
5. Productive People Think Carefully Before Accepting More Work
People who are characteristically productive often have excellent time management skills. They know precisely how long it will take them to get things done and are well aware if there are gaps in their schedules that would permit them to take on additional tasks. Therefore, they think very carefully before saying, “Yes” if people ask them to do something for them.
They’re more likely to politely decline additional responsibility, whereas a constantly busy person often quickly agrees to do extra things without taking time to consider if that is really feasible. That often means busy people find themselves feeling like there’s too much to do and not enough hours in the day.
6. Busy People Find It Hard To Focus
Earlier, we talked about how multitasking can quickly make people feel overwhelmed, even if they have good intentions for getting things done. On a similar note, people who are usually very busy have difficulty staying focused. They might tell themselves they’ll devote the next 20 minutes to certain tasks but find they get up for a drink of water, go to the bathroom and check e-mail while also working on the tasks.
When they really scrutinize their actions, they might discover more than half of the 20-minute window was devoted to those secondary actions rather than the tasks at hand. In contrast, productive people tend to stay focused more easily and understand they truly have to commit to tasks rather than getting so distracted.
7. Productive People Don’t Get Thrown Off By Mobile And E-mail Notifications
The sound effects of smartphones were meant to be helpful, but they’re often just stress inducing. Sometimes, notifications about incoming text messages and e-mails come in at all hours of the day and night, which throws people off track and makes them change their plans. At least that’s the case with busy people.
However, productive people don’t let themselves become dictated by surprise notifications delivered by their phones. They may calmly look at the screens and decide to respond once they’ve finished whatever’s occupying their time, or they might not even look at their smartphone until they’ve completely finished their current tasks.
8. Busy People Sometimes Talk More Than They Act
You’ll often find busy people spend a lot of time going over their very detailed plans for making progress or making huge life changes. That kind of planning can be very beneficial, as long as it’s backed up by actions. The problem is that busy people sometimes spend much more time talking about what they’ll do someday, rather than taking action now.
As you might have guessed, productive people more commonly take action promptly, but not hastily, and work things out as they go along.
9. Productive People Thrive On Seeing Others Engaged In Rewarding Work
Characteristically, productive people love to see other people getting tasks done and obviously getting enjoyment from the actions they’re carrying out. However, constantly busy people often get fed up when they see productive people, wondering why those individuals don’t seem so frazzled and flustered all the time.
Busy people may even feel twinges of jealousy because they wish they could conduct themselves like the productive people do and wonder why that seems like a goal that’s so out of reach.
Hopefully this list helps you realize there are some clear differences between people who are usually busy and those who are usually productive. You’d probably like to fall into the latter category, and the insight above could show you how. Remember, you won’t be able to change things overnight, but with dedication and a patient approach, you’ll be on the right track to success.