Are You Productive Or Just Busy?

The answers to these 8 questions will tell you

Are You Productive Or Just Busy?Are you productive or just busy? We have all been there from time to time, we have feel that we have been on the go all day, chasing here and there but at the end of it we feel deflated because we don’t feel as if we’ve achieved anything, and i’m sure you know someone who appears to be busy all the time, but never really seems to get anything done?  Do you feel that sometimes you’re in the same boat?  So how do you know if you’re being productive or just busy?

Are you productive or just busy?

Your answers to the following 8 questions will give you some guidance.

Do you have goals?  People who are productive generally have goals and focus all of their work on achieving those goals.  Of course like everyone else, productive people are subjected to distractions, but those distractions don’t take priority over the big picture.

Do you focus or multi-task?  People who multi-task often seem very busy, they seem to always be juggling many balls at the same time.  They’re always doing something, but they’re rarely doing any one thing very well.  You’ll be more productive if you focus on doing one thing at a time and see it through to its conclusion.

Do you delegate?  Those people who are truely productive have learnt that they can’t do everything themselves.  Sometimes you may take on tasks that should really be delegated to someone else.  If you work alone at your own business, this may be more difficult.  But you might be able to delegate personal tasks while keeping the focus on business tasks, or perhaps consider starting to work with a Virtual Assistant.

Do you say no?  People who are productive know how to say no to something that is going to take them away from their own important work.  It’s okay to say no when you really don’t have time to fit in one more thing. Productive people realise that everytime they say yes to someone else, they are in effect saying no to themselves.

Do you let some things go?  It may sound counterproductive to erase some tasks from your to-do list.  But you may find that you have given yourself tasks that really won’t move your vision forward and will take up extra time.  It’s okay to scratch something off the list and go a different way.

Do you have a schedule?  People who are productive tend to have a schedule for each day of what needs to be done and when.  If you’re not planning ahead, chances are you’re staying busy but not productive.

Do you complete projects?  You can be busy doing something all day long, every day and never get a project completed.  If you find you’re starting a lot of things without finishing them, it’s time to look at your priorities and become more productive.

Do you feel peace?  When you spend your time being very busy but not accomplishing much you might feel a sense of anxiety.  You may worry about all the things you need to do that aren’t getting done. But when you’re productive, you can actually feel peace when it comes to work.  You know what’s important and you have a plan to get it done on time.

So are you productive or just busy? How have you answered the above questions and in what areas, if any, do you need to make changes in order to stop being busy and start being productive?

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Till Next Time

Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor


Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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12 thoughts on “Are You Productive Or Just Busy?

  1. Hi Mike, great questions for reflection. Would like to share something I learnt recently which I find extremely helpful. Have a theme for each day to stay focus on. Eg. Today (Monday) is my social media / content marketing day. Tuesday is my FB community engagement day. Wednesday is blog writing, Thursday is content enhancement and scheduling. etc… Still need refinement on my plan on the theme but you get the idea. Thoughts?
    Sandy recently posted…10 Steps To Write Blog Content FasterMy Profile

    • Hi Sandy, I think its good to have a focus as long as it still gives you some flexibility to deal with the curve balls as and when they come in. I’m all for developing systems that work for individuals.

  2. Hi Mike, well yesterday was a busy but not very productive day. I decided to make today a productive one. Walked the dog for 1 1/2 hours. ‘soaked’ two bathrooms, two ovens and 6 oven shelves whilst doing computer work. (I often multi task). Finished cleaning the bathrooms, ovens and then sink. Fed me and fed the dog. Put dog blankets in washing machine and put dishwasher on. Packed two boxes ahead of house move. Ate too many flapjacks and drank too much tea and not enough water. Doing more computer work. Walk dog for another hour+. Have a salad and hope I do not fall asleep when Peaky Blinders is on tonight! I decided that during my ‘busy doing nothing’ periods I will pack for house move and wash cupboards etc., or else play with dog or train him.

    Mike, I do love your sense of humour. Especially about the train in the tunnel. Have not heard that one before.

    All good wishes,

  3. OMG!! This article is so timely since the last two weeks I feel I not achieved anything in my business but have been really busy. Thank you for the 8 questions as this has given me so much clarity.

    Tasleem Khan

  4. Hi there Mike. It seems I am more busy then productive. Which I will be switching to the more productive ways of doing things then anything else.

    This here is one good read.

    All The Best
    Edward haberthur

  5. Mike, I suffer from many of these challenges. I do, from time to time, feel like I am just busy and not productive. I have learned to say no. That took me a while to do, but I can really tell a difference since I have. I do tend to multi-tasks. I am trying to start being more focused and not having so many things going at one time.