Are you doing too much? Cramming too much into those precious 24 hours of yours?
I believe you, you’re busy. But are you busy doing important work? Work that aligns with your priorities? Work that clearly leads to a desired result?
If not, try evaluating how you’re spending your time. You might think you’re being productive, when nothing’s really getting done.
At some point in your life, you learned busy is better. You learned being busy was the thing to do. You adopted the mindset that if you’re not filling every second with some activity, you’re not working hard enough.
But is working hard the driving factor in productivity? What if you were misled?
It’s not too late to redefine productivity.
What Is Productivity?
What is productivity? Merriam-Webster defines it as the rate of output per unit of input.
I define it as being able to create, generate or bring new ideas, products or services to life.
Nowadays, input has way exceeded output. And there is no shortage of ideas, products or services out there. At the end of the day, it’s information. More stimulation to contend with.
The influx of information into our eyes and ears is at an all time high. How do we keep up, let alone do anything with it?
Yes, all information is “applied” somehow—whether we’re aware of it or not. All information we take in is doing something; it’s not just sitting there. It’s influencing us even in the slightest way, at the most cellular level. Making an impression on our psyche, our physiology, our productivity…
What we consume, we use.
Is the onslaught of information costing us our productivity? Sure, when we’re adding every great idea to our workload, every invite to our schedule, every movie to our queue, every podcast to our playlist.
If you’re derailed with every ping, at some point, you have to wonder, who’s in control? You or the information?
Are You Productive Or Just Busy?
Productivity—to be productive toward a particular end goal—requires clarity. With clarity, you’re focused and effective. You consume information relative to the task at hand, and save the rest for another time. You turn off the multi-tasking.
Without clarity, you might think you’re productive listening, watching and engaging with everything that comes across your desk, but you’re only creating more things to do, hoping to get somewhere.
We can’t expect “busy for the sake of busy” to get us anywhere. Jim Rohn says, “producing something worthwhile takes more than just busyness.”
That’s the risk of productivity. Thinking you’re productive when you’re just busy. Doing too much when you don’t have to. Busying yourself with learning everything, so you can know everything, in order to do everything…yourself.
What are you chasing in the busy? What are you running from?
The hardest part of productivity is focusing on one thing at a time. The mind wants to wander. The eyes want to roam. The fingers want to explore. The legs want to run away.
So, productivity takes practice, patience, purpose and presence. Enter a decluttered mind.
When our minds are clear, we have an easier time keeping our attention steady. We’re clear about what we’re working on and why. We’re inspired to stay the course.
Without clarity, we busy ourselves with pretty distractions. Too anxious to sit still. Too overstimulated to settle down.
How Do You Know If You’re Doing Too Much?
I read a survey that said over one quarter of people in 36 different countries feel rushed even in their down time. It said people are finding it harder and harder to keep up with the demands of life. Probably because they’re piling school, family, hobbies, social life, longer work hours, news, blogs, podcasts, Netflix bingers, and more responsibilities than ever into each day.
No survey can tell you if you’re doing too much, only you can say. Tap into how you feel before, during and after the busy. Do some self-inquiry:
- Am I exhausted?
- Am I pleased with the effort I put out today?
- Do I believe I had a productive day?
- Do I believe I made strides toward a major goal today? What goal?
- Did I get caught up in any distractions? What distractions? How much time did it cost me?
- Who did I serve today and how did I serve them? Would I do it again?
- What will I change tomorrow knowing what I know?
Busy won’t go away, but you don’t have to lose yourself to it. You don’t have to overload yourself with information hoping one day it all clicks and improves your life.
Define productivity for yourself so you can measure your actions against it moving forward.
Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says,
people […] are working so hard to be sure things are done right, that they hardly have time to decide if they are doing the right things.
What are your right things? The answer to that isn’t in a book.
Download the free Color Code Calendar to help declutter your busy.