Are you productive or just busy?
Follow these tips to be more effective.
Everyone wants to be successful and this really isn’t hard. All you have to do focus on what works and start getting rid of what doesn’t. Sounds simple doesn’t it? If someone truly wants to reach their goals, there needs to be a clear understanding how to get productive, busyness is not business. We all have mindless habits that we hang onto year after year. Now is the time to wake up and pay attention. Just for the purposes of this article I want to clarify the difference of being busy, which I will call busyness and distinguish the difference between being busy and getting business results.
Let’s start with a simple scenario
Have you seen my articles, “What is your time worth?” or “10 ways to be more successful next year?” If you have, then great! You know how to increase your net worth this year with small systematic steps. If you didn’t see my article, you can read them here and here. Now let’s take that same simple premise one step further. To make more then focus on tasks that generate higher income. Then let tasks that produce little or no income go by the wayside.
Find Time Wasters
Two huge time wasting activities are email and social media. I have to admit, it was a problem for me and it is an addiction for many. If you generate significant income through email or social media, this is the exception. But my guess is that you don’t right now. You need to limit how much time you devote to these two activities. Both activities can actually generate large incomes. Although my guess is it’s more likely about being busy than being profitable. If you are currently making $20 per hour and you want to make $30 per hour, you need to reduce or eliminate $10/hour tasks (or worse) keeping you from higher hourly rates. Just looking busy is no guarantee to you looking good. Businesses want results and busyness is not business.
Quit All-Day Email and Social Media
Tim Ferriss, in his book, “The 4-Hour Workweek” stated he only checks email at certain points in the day, like noon and 4 p.m. and found that proved adequate. In fact, he said to avoid checking email first thing in the morning since it could keep you from doing the most important things that day. Admittedly, there are pros and cons to this advice. You may have different service level requirements affecting how timely you respond to email. However, I do subscribe to limiting checking email to two or possibly three times a day. Quickly address issues and get back to tasks that are more profitable. Ultimately, the goal is to limit the time on email and get the most important important things done that day.
And you would also consider the same goes for social media. Let’s be honest, if you are not posting, curating or moderating social media then it can wait. And if you really analyze it, social media usage is largely a personal activity. Consider it a lower activity through avoidance or distraction keeping you from more profitable actions.
Always Make First Things First
Avoid checking email first thing in the morning since it could keep you from doing the most important things that day. However, there are pros and cons to this advice, I do subscribe to limiting checking email to two or possibly three times a day. Quickly address issues and get back to tasks that are more profitable. The goal is to limit the time on email and get the important things done that day. Next, the same goes for social media. Again, this is largely a personal activity keeping you from goal attainment.
Well Show Me The Numbers
We all want to make more money. This is what we are aspiring to, right? For this example we will use $30 an hour as a baseline. Let’s assume we surf social media for an hour a day. Here is what we end up doing to ourselves.
- $30 a day equal $150 a week ($30 x 5 days)
- $150 a week equal $600 a month (assuming 4-week months)
- $150 a week equal $7800 a year (based on $150 x 52 weeks in a year)
Are those cute puppy and kitten videos really worth $7800? I bet you would agree with me the answer is an overwhelming “NO!“
Now I certainly do not have anything against email or social media. Secondly, I rely on both heavily for business, but I am not everybody. And please note I am not suggesting elimination, just setting a priority of importance to everything. Set a date and try this experiment for a week. I would suggest you would eventually agree if you break the habit of instantaneous checking every time you hear those alerts. Turn off the sounds to those alerts and so-called emergencies. Then you get to watch something really magical happen. Suddenly, all those crisis alerts you thought were real emergencies, seemed to “automagically” take care of themselves.
Need another example?
I have run across so many time (and used to say this myself) until I admitted it to myself. I used to tell people I cut the grass for the exercise. The truth is I hate cutting grass. I hate cutting the grass in the Florida heat and it wipes me out when I am done. Then I end up crashing on the couch for an hour afterwards. The truth was I just didn’t want to part with $100 bucks a month.
Assuming I only made $30 an hour, this would be $60. Why would someone spend two hours on the lawn (cutting and crashing) when they could pay a neighbor’s kid or a lawn service $20-25? Where’s the sense in that? This is no different that the low-value activities I mentioned above. I would rather spend my time on things creating value (while not killing me in the process to save a few bucks).
Everything is not an emergency. It’s really that simple.
Cuteness updates are not a priority. The bake sale at church could wait a couple of hours to know what flavor you are bringing this weekend. And finally, the lawn guy can wait a little to know if you want your lawn work on Monday or Tuesday of next week. Again, true importance to YOUR goals will show busyness is not business.
Have you heard the phrase when everything is an emergency, then nothing is an emergency? Some companies seem to operate this way, basing activity on “flame height.” This doesn’t diminish the people making these requests, but what is the real priority? Perhaps they were just someone else’s sense of urgency or lack of planning. The expression, “Your emergency is not my crisis” is more often than not true. You could argue there are times when you need a quick response, but if you go back and really examine it, I bet it is genuinely rare.
Lastly, focus on business and busyness will take care of itself. Try it. Put this experiment to the test. Only check social media and email a couple of times a day. Then I believe you will agree with me how much time it actually frees up to help you achieve more toward productivity and your goals. Now you have some minor tweaks to work on to prove to yourself busyness is not business.
To Your Success,
Hi! I’m Bill Wheeler
Writer, storyteller, teacher and remote workstyle expert, I have worked remotely for over 17 years now. I can honestly say it is absolutely possible to work anywhere, anytime. It is my passion and mission to help others learn new skills and be more fulfilled and productive.