I’m a small business owner and any small business owner knows the feeling of ‘busy’. There is always something to do. Even at 11pm when I should be in bed, I could undoubtedly find something else to do. The whole world is busy these days, and it can be hard to differentiate between being busy and being productive. Productive, like… you know… when real, actual work is getting done.
I’ve read a few articles that touch on the topic of being busy versus being productive. Some of them say that replying to emails and sitting in meetings are just busy work, but not productive. Others say that anything related to making progress on a project is productive. I think any task has the potential to be productive, but it’s all in how you do it. If you’re constantly checking your email, but not replying or ‘dealing’ with the emails, I don’t think that’s productive. If you’re in a meeting that bangs out 3 big ideas and 10 ways to execute them, I need to give you all gold medals.
When you think about it, the big difference between being busy and being productive is ACTION. When your actions are goal-oriented, you can pretty much guarantee you will be productive. Busyness is filling our time with anything we can find to fill our time. Productivity is setting a goal and working towards it. I wanted to share a couple ways that help me know my day has been productive:
I wrote about this last week, but I really believe that morning routines are essential for productivity, especially for those of us who work from home! You can read more about my morning routines and a few tips here.
Top 3 ‘Big Things’
I’m a total pen and paper girl. I have a legal pad that I keep by my computer and each day I’ll write my top 3 most important tasks for the day. (Honest truth: Sometimes one of those things is to work out, and I am totally ok with that being a big thing.) If I put my mind to it, I can usually get through my 3 things by the end of the day. If not, though, I put the task I didn’t finish at the top of tomorrow’s list.
Ugliest task first
I learned this from my mentors at Inspire Photo Retreats two years ago. I hate the mundane business-related tasks that come with owning your own business. I know that if I get them done earlier in the day, I have more time at the end of the day to focus on creating, whether that is painting, blogging or taking photos.
Dedicated ‘errand day’
When your office is in your home, you can get caught up in when to do your home-life-stuff (groceries, cleaning, bank, ect). I dedicate one day a week to doing errands. It means I don’t get as many business-y things done, but focusing on the other necessary life things means the other 4 days of the week I can solely focus on the biz.
One Thing at a Time
My brain is a brain that jets around from thing to thing (and over to more things). As much as women pride themselves on being the ultimate multitaskers, when it comes to productivity, I’m not sure it really works like that. Put all of your energy into one task, and only when you finish that should you move onto the next!
Put Your Phone Away
I’m preaching to the choir right now. Not having my phone directly in sight is admittedly my weakest character trait, which means I get distracted by that shiny rectangle fairly often. BUT. I’m learning that when my phone is not near me – tempting me – I can get more real work done and feel more productive!
Here are a couple more reads on productivity / busyness:
Lily Singh’s 5 Ways to Get Real Work Done
Stopping the busyness
27 Ways to Get more Sht Done
Staying productive while working from home
Now! Go get ’em!! <3 <3 Stephanie
p.s. i took this photo, and YOU can download it from my unsplash page!