We often make the mistake of thinking busyness and productivity are the same thing. They’re not. Sadly, many people today are too busy and less productive. Did you know that you don’t have to be stressed, overwhelmed and overpowered to remain productive?
A study published by Forbes shows that 75 percent of companies struggle with having overwhelmed employees. Maybe you’re one of them. The lie that many people believe is that there’s no other alternative. We should just suck up the stress and press on. But that’s not true at all.
Say No To Busyness and Yes To Productivity
One of the common questions I am asked is how I manage to handle all my commitments working full time in the ministry, teaching and speaking, consulting, and blogging all on a regular basis. The key for me has always been to remain productive not busy.
I admit I’m not an expert at balance yet. I still have days where I push up to sixteen working hours. But I’m learning to balance more and shave off hours from my work day. I’d like to share with you some of the practices that have allowed me to shift from being busy to being productive.
1. Set Your Goal
I often say this- that I don’t do a lot of things. I do just one thing. It’s just manifested in different ways. My goal is to be able to communicate messages of value to others whether they’re my messages or that of others. I do that through ministry, consultancy, branding and blogging.
What is your goal in life? When your goal is clear, you know what you want to get done. It also becomes a whole lot clearer how you’re going to get there which shaves off a lot of wasted time and effort.
2. Document Your Processes
If it’s not put into writing, it’s not going to happen. I am an avid fan of documenting as many things as possible. I calendar events, set task reminders, set and evaluate our household budgets and ask teams I run to put as much into writing as well.
Why is documenting important? Most people spend so much time and energy trying to remember things when all you can do is write it down and automate tasks to go off with a reminder if needed. Save time and energy by writing things down more often.
3. Pace Yourself
I often have a hectic schedule but one thing I’ve learned is to allow for margin. Why? Because I know I’m not superman. Too many people think of themselves as indestructible. I made that mistake tons of times and sometimes I still do. But we all need to remind ourselves more and more that we need to control our schedules, not let your schedules control you.
4. Don’t Multitask
The greatest myth about productivity is the myth of multitasking. Science has proven that we are incapable of multitasking. When we handle multiple tasks at once, it actually overwhelms us more and we get less done. That’s because it actually takes a few seconds to a few minutes to switch from one mode to another. The best cure to the multitask myth is to batch all your work together.
I for one have found it very useful to batch all my work at a daily and even weekly basis. Most of my meetings happen on Thursdays and Fridays. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are do-days for me where I do a lot of my hands on work. Then on most of the days, I reserve evenings after dinner to communicate with our virtual team to get updates from each one.
5. Say “No”
Becoming productive is not just about learning to say “yes” to the things that we should be doing. It’s also about learning to say “no” to things that we shouldn’t be doing. Why is that? Because when we say “yes” to things we shouldn’t be doing, we will have to end up saying no to things that are more important.
This applies not just to work life, but in all aspects. The more we say yes to work demands, the less time we’ll have with family. When we say yes to nights out with friends, the less time we’ll have to rest. Say yes to unchecked expenses and you’ll drain finances for more important things. The more time we say yes to social media, the less time we’ll have to do more important things. Learning to say no is a great key to escaping the overwhelm and avoid busyness.