Are You Being Productive or Just Busy?
People keep asking me how I get so much done or where do I find the time to do so much. Well, I have a little secret I’d like to share with you. I used to spend a lot of time being busy but not very productive and at the end of the day I would look back and see that not much had been achieved – it was soul destroying.
So, last year I decided to make some big changes and to get really focused on quality rather than quantity. And I found I was spending far less time on my business and getting much more done. Here’s what I did …
I looked for other people who were doing what I wanted to be doing and then I modelled them (that is, I copied their actions to get the same results).
One of these people was Helen Raptoplous (aka Helen Rappy) who is an expert in productivity. She has lots of fabulous free information on her subject and I was hooked immediately.
She taught me one really important thing and I want to share it with you. She taught me about Parkinson’s Law. Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? Formally stated, Parkinson’s Law says that your work will expand to fill the exact amount of time you make available.
Simply put, if you allow a whole day to complete a task, it will take all day. Studies have shown that just 20% of what you do will produce 80% of the desired results. That means that 80% of what you do is just “filler” and won’t amount to much.
All along I had been confusing being busy with being productive and that’s why I could spend all day working but not be completing the important things that would move my business forward.
Helen taught me to focus on just 4 things a day. And those 4 things should be the 20% that produces 80% of the results.
Now, the key is to decide exactly what those 4 tasks are going to be. They need to be important and they need to be work that will bring most results and move the business forward.
I had to decide what work was important and not just urgent. The email that says “please get back to me as soon as possible” is urgent but may not be as important as working on my business plan for the next 3 months!
Once you’ve got your 4 tasks for the day, the trick is to get to work immediately. Helen says to just jump right in and work on them. Don’t be sidetracked by the phone or email. Distractions lead to procrastination, which is the number one enemy to completing your 4 tasks for the day.
When you’ve tackled your first task, give yourself some breathing room; take a break, go for a walk, have a snack, or whatever refreshes you. Whatever you choose for your break, get away from the computer! Your eyes will thank you and it will give you time to refocus on your next task.
Now, it’s time to work on your next task. Then take another break, and then finish the third and then the last task. If you don’t allow for distractions, and you didn’t procrastinate, you should have these things finished long before the end of your workday.
Then, you can take care of the less important things that still beg for your attention – BUT, it will be without guilt or pressure because you already have the important things done.
Imagine what a great feeling that will be! I just love that feeling of knowing I’ve done the important things every day – it’s such a relief. I knew I was capable of achieving so much more, I just never knew how to do it.
I’d love for you to connect with Helen for yourself. Have a look at her free productivity training. You will learn the top 8 productivity tips to help you move your business forward. Check it out right now, it's completely free: Helen's FREE Productivity Training
Great blog Heather, Thank you x
This is exactly right Heather. I particularly love the fact that everything can be dealt with in a calm and measured way, weighing up the urgent and the important. That way nothing trivial can eat up your time to the detriment of the more important things.
Lovely to see you on here. I hope you’ll want to hang out with me and talk business and balance. And let’s link to your gorgeous blog so everyone else can see what you do, hugs Heather xx
A very warm welcome Lisa and thanks for your comment, you are exactly right about the weighing up. It’s crucial to tell the difference between urgent and important. I remember a time management quadrant I studied once that helped explain what we tend to waste our time on. I will find it and share it on the blog so that we can all tell the difference. Hugs
Great article. I am a big believer in the 80/20 rule. Thanks for the timely reminder!
Great to have you on here.
Yes! Isn’t it a great rule AND seems to be applicable in almost all situations.
I love it.
Heather, I am always super impressed with how much you achieve and then you up it another notch! Wow! You are inspirational. Really looking forward to following this lovely blog. Thank you for the reminder to keep focussed on the important things x
Nicky Kriel recently posted..How Social Media has helped my Business 4
Now you know how I do it 😉
Thanks for your lovely words Nicky
love your new blog… great advice and a timely reminder about being busy vs being productive…
You are very welcome.
I can’t wait to see you and your wonderful work featured on here.
How cool is this post!? One of my 4 things today was to visit a few blogs of people I most want to champion and leave a comment!! What an amazing surprise to be reading and then to see I am being quoted.. and you were talking about me!! Thank you Heather!!
I’d like to point out that I have played with different numbers. I was set on 3 for awhile… but 3 didn’t feel like enough and then I tried 5 and 5 was too overwhelming. 4 is just perfect!
I have a list of 10 people who I most want to connect with (honestly I have way more than 10, but I focus on 10 at a time). Today, one of my tasks is to visit 3 blogs and leave comments and RT those people on Twitter and find something they said on Facebook and make a comment there as well. Again, you were one of those 3 hits for the day and I am just smiling BIG that your post mentioned me! WooHoo!!!
My Free training will be filled with great tips, I promise! Thank you Heather!!
Helen Raptoplous recently posted..How To Stay Inspired – Getting Motivated
It’s such a pleasure to recommend your work Helen – you are an inspiration and help so many of us with your energy and motivation. Don’t know what we’d do without you.
Hey, my dear friend — you’ve been holding out on me! I didn’t know you started this lovely new blog. What a wonderful treat!
I just subscribed via e-mail and you know I’ll be reading every fresh post you put up here. 🙂
Helen is, of course, the quintessential productivity expert. What would we do without her advice, direction, inspiration, and support?! I’ve always loved and appreciated the simplicity of how she presents information and the sincerity with which she delivers her messages. Very comforting to have Helen in our circle, isn’t it, Heather?
Beautiful blog. Can’t wait to return again!
Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur recently posted..Light Yourself On Fire And People Will Come To See You Burn
WooHoo!! Fabbytastic to have you on my blog. I’m loving my new found love of all things productive and it’s all your fault LOL. I jump out of bed in the morning to get my tasks for the day done and then I feel great. Everyone keeps asking me if I ever sleep LOL. If only they knew!!
Can’t wait for your Free training – I just know I’m going to learn even more cool stuff and I’ll take my productivity to the next level.
Thanks so much Helen – I really appreciate your passion and the extra mile you go.
Welcome lovely lady ~ Isn’t it gorgeous!!!
Between Helen and Connie, they’ve both been pushing me hard lately and I’ve ‘stepped up’.
I’d really love you to be one of my featured mums (moms 🙂 I know my mumpreneurs will love to hear all about you. (I’m sure I sent you a facebook message this morning 😉 Go check!
I’m so excited to be offering lots of lovely tips and resources to all the mums out there with fab businesses. Just love hearing what everyone’s up to. And promoting lots of ‘Me Time’ – obviously LOL
You know you can count on me!
Beside the fact that I love and respect everything about you, I feel just as you do about helping mums — especially those that have a deep and genuine desire to design a life that’s right for them. We can help them through their journey, Heather! And isn’t that a wonderful thought?
So proud of you and very blessed to know you,
Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur recently posted..Are You A Level 10 Procrastinator
Fab fab post! Making changes right now! Thanks x
Thanks Sara – a big welcome x
“Give yourself some breathing room” – that is so important! I love being productive and making the most of my time. Sometimes resisting the urge to pack things into your schedule can seem counter-productive, but it’s so important if we’re to keep the momentum going rather than crash and burn! Reminds me of a post I wrote a while ago: http://grace-marshall.com/dont-forget-to-breathe/
Grace Marshall recently posted..Breaking out of boxes
Loved your post Grace (in fact I love anything with a Joni quote in it lol). you’ve really hit upon an important point – to take time out – in order to keep moving. I love it.
Wow — this was totally up my alley. Some days I wake up and say, this is what is on task for the day … and before I know it, I am off task, the phone rings, an “important” email comes in that demands my immediate attention, and of course the distractions of twitter … I need to keep up after all.
There are days that I am very strict with myself and do accomplish everything that was on my list. I have come to realize that I need a LIST. I list what needs to be accomplished that day and CHECK or SCRATCH of what I have completed. Good feeling? You betcha. Nothing like it.
This was a great article. Ohhh, and so motivational for myself to get up again in the morning and get to being productive … for real!
Thanks for that reminder Patty – we all need lists (as mumpreneurs there is so much to remember that we can’t keep it all in our heads lol).
I love the satisfaction of ticking things off a list – it’s great.
I also have to keep the focus and, I’m like you, I can get easily distracted lol.
Thanks for this article. I am ALWAYS busy, home school mom, tutor, and managing a small medical physics company I sometimes get overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed, it does seem harder to focus.
I have just been watching a video on just this very subject! How to work out what you need to do, and doing it. I am the master (mistress?) of being busy. I am now going to go for a walk and give myself a talking to – stop being busy and get productive!
BTW, the walk is not being busy, it is a productive use of time. I need to get out of the house and the dog is looking at me expectantly! I also think better outside.