June 01 2020

Are You Busy or Productive?

What is the difference between being busy and being productive? Contrary to the general assumption, they do not mean the same thing. Everyone knows someone whose work ethic and time management inspires us. You are left wondering how they manage to complete as much as they do with what looks like such ease.

It comes down to how productive people go about getting things done. There is nothing stopping any of us from being a more productive person than we were yesterday. There are several winning methods very successful and highly effective people swear by that we can all apply to our lives.


Busy: Adj. having a great deal to do, full of activity

Productive: Producing or able to produce large amounts of goods, crops, or other commodities, achieving a significant amount or result, producing or giving rise to.

–       Oxford dictionaries

Let’s go through the difference

Everyone has a great deal to do these days. Constantly answering emails and text messages, trying to juggle multiple tasks at the same time, balancing kids, spouses, and all else while staying late at work. But productivity is what we struggle with; achieving results in the time we have.

busy person constantly has things to do, but that does not necessarily mean they are being productive; getting things done. The usual start to the busy person’s day begins with a long list of to-dos.

Their mind goes round and round never really focusing on one thing. They are caught up jumping between tasks and saying yes to things when their plate is already full. It isn’t possible to say no to your boss, but you can say no to a co-worker, to a friend, to other plans. You can say no to the T.V, internet, and your phone for the purpose of concluding what you need to do.

Something that is common to busy people is to hear them say just how busy they are, usually flustered, anxious and in stressed state. Unfortunately, popular belief is that venting helps take a load off – which it can for some, but it can actually make things worse. Complaining can put the mind into a negative state and propel the feeling further, causing even more stress. Productivity however allows for positivity, for the feeling of accomplishment, for satisfaction in life, and most of all it allows the control of your life.

“Being busy means doing stuff, being productive means getting stuff done”

productive person, however, is quite the opposite. They start their day with minimal items on their to-do list. Those items are prioritized by importance. If there are 10 things to do, all are placed according to importance, perhaps not by urgency and only the top three will be attended to in a day.

Each task takes their complete focus and concentration as they block out all other distractions. They remove electronics, excess noise, and social interruptions. Productive people are also cautious about what they say yes to. They selectively choose what and how much they take on and to that end you usually won’t find them saying how busy they are; they are immersed in what they need to do.

How action is taken is where the difference lays. A systematic and structured schedule is developed and implemented. Time is organized for best efficiency. For example, instead of being distracted throughout the day with responding to emails they set a limited time to do so. The first 30 minutes of the day could be to answer important emails and leave the rest until later once they have gotten through serious work. Another tactic used would be to place the less important emails in a folder with a reminder set for more of an appropriate time.

You can also be sure that productive people use their breaks wisely. They relax the brain and take time to energize. Instead of taking work with them to lunch for example they take a friend, or go for a walk.

Here are some simple tips to improve productivity from highly effective people that can be applied to your life today.

6 Tips from the Tops

  1. Start the day with time for yourself. Wake early and give yourself time before work.
  2. Keep it simple. Write a To-do list of 3 items with a plan of action.
  3. Cut out distractions. Turn off your phone, set a time for answering emails, close the door.
  4. Go for good nutrition and exercise. Give your body everything it needs for maximum performance.
  5. Take real breaks. Recognize when to give yourself a break, and take a proper one.
  6. Get a decent night’s sleep.

Why it Matters

Like meditation, being in the moment and honing in on priority to completion allows for peace of mind. To be productive means the mind has clarity of action and takes that action. It is about being efficient and effective with your energy, focus and time. It reduces the stress and anxiety busy people usually feel the weight of, and in turn reduces the physical and emotion negative health concerns.

Productivity can also allow for uninterrupted sleep; a very important aspect for quality performance and a well-balanced internal life of an individual.  Instead of constantly being in a “busy” mind set with an overcrowded schedule, you will find that the productive person can appreciate quality time with family, in the gym, on a hobby as well as a social life.  All of which have positive effects on health; improved immunity, overall physical and emotional health, reduced likelihood of medical conditions and so on.  And even if those aren’t good enough reasons for you, the feeling of accomplishment and productivity are a reward system by themselves.

It is important to realize that it is ideal to strive toward better productivity, both for your work and home life. Being aware of the difference between being busy and being productive gets you one step further to a great life. The rewards of finding a way to be productive are what make life. You are in charge of your time, of your life.