Are You Being Productive Or Just Busy?

The 5 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old Self
October 26, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 10.15.07 PM
5 Daily Rules For Consistent And Increased Productivity
November 13, 2013
Show all

I woke up in a haze this morning (like many Sunday mornings).  It was late and I missed Sunday morning Yoga.  DAMN…  My aspirations for being productive and inspiring had gone south and fast.

I headed to my corner coffee shop and the barista behind the counter looked at me and quickly prescribed me some peppermint chamomile tea and a veggie wrap.  Then I opened my laptop and searched for inspiration to write my weekly post.  After some tinkering on Facebook, checking email, and looking at plane tickets I was ready. HA!  Then…NOTHING.

I obviously needed a change of scenery (after just 30 min) so I headed home to my couch and proceeded to get nothing accomplished.  Then I decided I needed a nap.  Yes, a nap will help my inspiration.

Now its 10pm and I finally got my inspiration and it all stemmed from my Sunday of procrastination.  So what inspired me?  Actually it was a little popup reminder on my phone that pings me everyday and it says “Are you being productive or just busy?”

Today was a great reminder to me that some mornings you wake up and feel unmotivated and inadequate.  I didn’t have that spark of excitement.  I had so many things on my “to do” list that it stressed me out.  Most of the items were complete BS and it was just me creating busy work.  I had started off on the wrong foot by not getting enough sleep and combined with my to do list of busy work, I was doomed from the start.

Do you ever have that depression or boredom where you feel like yesterdays excitement and energy has been replaced with todays lackluster effort?  I get it all the time and I constantly need to tell myself that its natural and OK to be unmotivated and bored at times. That being said there a few ways to snap out of this little mini rut and get yourself on the right track.

The first thing is to attack that “to do” list and use that ever powerful Pareto’s Principal (80% of outcomes come from 20% of efforts) to chop it down to something that is manageable.  Thats right, use the 80/20 rule on a day to day basis.

To Do List

Much of our daily depression and boredom stems from an unrealistic “to do” list.  We put so much on our plate and most of it is just busy work that has an empty unfulfilling outcome.  Those unfulfilling outcomes lead to a feeling of being unproductive which can spiral into paralysis of inactivity.  UGH this sucks.

On a daily basis look at your tasks and rank them in importance.  Also ask yourself if some of these tasks are unnecessary or if some of these tasks can be delegated or simply eliminated.  Lastly, try to get down to one or two important tasks and be as specific as possible with those tasks so that you know what needs to be done and you don’t wander off into other “busy” activities.

I was once at up to 8 tasks a day and it was just very unrealistic.  I thought I was being organized but instead it just made me procrastinate.  Try to only have 2-3 important tasks on your daily to do list.

Next, if you are really in a bad rut there may be something hanging over your head that you may not realize.  If you are feeling paralyzed by one of your tasks its time to identify the issue and deal with it.

Take out a piece of paper and write down 3-5 things that are making you feel most uncomfortable.  This could be related to your job, your school work, or even something in your personal life that is actually preventing you from being productive.

Next (I stole this part from Tim Ferriss) for each item ask yourself two questions:

1. If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?
2. Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?

If you answered “no” for something on your list, disregard it and move on.  Its not important.  If you answer “yes” for one or more of the items on your list its time to block off a chunk of time and tend to that item(s).  Take 2-3 hours and get that item off your list!

Its going to make you way less stressed and will give you a feeling of accomplishment which will charge your attitude and move you toward being more productive.

Remember being busy is BEING LAZY.  You are avoiding your few critical tasks.  Remember, you will struggle at times. All of us do.  Its ok to struggle and be unproductive at times.

I procrastinated all day and I knew my critical task was this blog post.  I had my moment of weakness but now I am going to bed feeling accomplished.  Try to be more realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and STOP BEING BUSY.



Cort Davies
Cort Davies
Cort believes that startups should get powerful, effective marketing advice along with practical and positive soft skills to give them the best chance to succeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *