4 Habits to Be Productive, Not Busy

“I’m too busy to do that. I wish I had more time!” she said as she scrolled through her Instagram feed. Do you have a friend who does this? Or are you yourself guilty of doing this? I myself certainly have. There’s often a big misconception that being busy means that you’re being productive. Well, it’s not. Busy and productive are far from the same.

When you’re busy, you have a lot of things to do. When you’re productive, you’re achieving producing a significant amount of result. It doesn’t matter how many tasks you have in hand, if none of them makes progress, you’re not being productive.

I, myself, was a victim of this misconception. With so many things that I have decided to put aside, I always complained that I didn’t have enough time to get things done. In the end, not only did I not finish everything, I ended up wasting my time.

I’m not the most productive person now, but I’m the most productive I have ever been. There are some things that I had to learn to be able to let go of my time-wasting trait.

WRITE THINGS DOWN

Whenever things I should do crossed my mind, I would keep it in mind hoping that when the time came for me to do it, I would be able to remember. As a result, I missed a lot of things and ended up having to spend more time to finish them. Since a year ago, I’ve started creating checklists on my Notes. So whenever I have things I should be doing on a certain day, I’ll write them down and once I finish any of the tasks, I’ll tick it off. Without realizing, this has helped me in so many ways. I still leave out some stuff every now and then but the rate has gone down from 60% of the time to 15%. Not the best but it’s progress.

HAVE GOALS IN MIND… AND FOCUS ON THEM

I’ve always been someone with goals. Big goals, small goals; I have them all. But having goals and working to attain those goals are two different things. When you know what you want and you actually do things with your goals in mind, you are more focused and you don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter. Yes, sometimes it’s good to do things just because you want to do them, not because you have to or because it’s something that can contribute to your success. However, most of the time, having something to guide you in your decision-making will greatly help in maximizing your productivity.

CLOSE THE DOORS AND MOVE ON

Things will go wrong, shit will happen. But if we learn to let go of what we can’t control and focus on what we can instead, life will be much simpler. It’s okay if you are frustrated or if you’re sad, that’s human nature, but learn to get out of that zone as soon as you can. Don’t linger there and fall deeper into the sinking hole. It’s not going to bring you any good, neither will it change the fact. Let what should happen, happen and simply appreciate what is.

SET TIME FOR TRIVIAL ACTIVITIES

I’m a big fan of watching movies and I think that watching British and American TV shows has greatly contributed to my English-speaking ability (English is not my first language). However, spending 15 hours a day only on watching is neither healthy nor very productive unless your passion is in movie reviews or any other profession that involves plenty of watching. Don’t get me wrong, as a huge Downton Abbey and Stranger Things fan, I still spend some of my weekend watching. But now, instead of binge-watching the whole season, I limit myself to a maximum of 3 episodes per day. And on weekdays, if I happen to have more time, I will let myself watch one or two episodes. This way, I’m not depriving myself of leisure and I also have more time to work on things that will push me to a better version of myself.

Every now and then, there is still ups and downs when it comes to my ability to be productive. On good days, I manage to finish all the things on my daily checklist and more. On bad days, I can only tick off two to three of the tasks. But instead of beating myself up and blaming myself for being so unproductive, I simply move the undone tasks to the next day and choose to focus on what I can do.