difference between busy and productive

The difference between BUSY and PRODUCTIVE

difference between busy and productive
difference between busy and productive

The theme of the month? Productive doesn’t necessarily mean busy and busy doesn’t always mean productive.

In Wedding bells: managing your time, we looked at balancing the “have-tos” with the “want-tos”.  This is certainly not just for planning a wedding.  It applies to everyday life too.

If you haven’t checked out the ways to maximize your resources, time is probably our most limited resource.  Being productive is truly the best use of that time – getting the most done in the least amount of time necessary.

And while our lives are busy with a capital B, productive and busy are not the same thing.

If you are currently in the workforce, I’m sure you’ve had one of those days when you bounce from meeting to meeting all day long. And by the time you get to the end of the day, you feel like you’ve been busy all day long but didn’t actually get anything done. That’s the difference between busy and productive – not how much time did you spend running around from task to task but what did you accomplish with that time that you spent.

What is the difference between busy and productive?

  • Productivity is ultimately about efficiency. It’s about being smart with your time, with as little wasted time or energy as possible. We only have so many hours in a day (even if you skip eating and sleeping, it’s still twenty-four at the very most).
  • Being productive means getting your “stuff” done in the least amount of time possible. Who wants to waste their precious resources?  Time, energy, money are all precious.
  • Multi-tasking isn’t always the most productive use of your time. Ultimately multi-tasking ends up being unproductive because your attention and focus are spread too thin.
  • We all know those people – they “humble brag” about how busy they are running from one social engagement to the next and having such a full calendar. But does being that busy really mean they are being productive?  Probably not.  It just means they are busy. And life is hard enough without adding “busy” to the mix when you don’t have to.
  • If you are too busy, you can’t truly be productive. You spend so much of your time getting from one activity to another and hardly any of that time truly enjoying any one particular activity.
  • Trying to do too much at the same time, and ultimately nothing gets accomplished. Studies have shown that multi-tasking doesn’t actually work — that when our attention is too divided, we end up losing our ability to focus.  And eventually we become unable to focus our attention on just one task.

Ultimately, we do all lead busy lives and have a lot to accomplish on any given day.  But don’t forget to make sure you are being more productive and less busy. The difference between being busy and being productive is getting it done.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does the saying mean – don’t be busy, be productive?

I’ve always taken this saying to mean don’t just spend your time running around, make sure you spend your time accomplishing something.

What does it mean to be productive?

Being productive means getting IT done. Whatever that IT is for your life, getting it done is the key. You can be as busy as all get-out but a lot of the time that isn’t productive. What have you accomplished by being that busy? Is it just bragging rights that you are “so busy”?

What is the difference between busy people and productive people?

I see busy people as those “humble brag” type people, that talk about how busy they are and how much they have going on and how they have to run from one event to another without any room to breathe. Who wants to live like that??? On the other hand, productive people accomplish something with time and energy that they expend.

How do I turn a busy life into a productive life?

If you’ve come to the realization that you are more busy than productive, it’s time to stop and take a moment to figure out why. Are you truly enjoying all of the activities that you are doing? Maybe grocery shopping at three different stores is not the best way to spend your Saturday morning. Could you find everything you need at one store and save your time and gas money for other things? Or try a grocery pickup service if you still need multiple stores so that all you have to do is drive up and they bring the bags out to you.

It’s the little time-savers that will accumulate over time. To re-visit why you feel so busy and whether it is all truly necessary.

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