busy vs productive




“I’m busy” has become the new buzzword for “I don’t care”. It is the polite version of “I don’t give a fuck” often but not always. The word “busy”, nowadays, is often used as an excuse for not doing something we ought to, maybe because we forgot or are simply not interested in. Truth be told if something is so thrilling or important, we would make time for it, whatever it is. That is why one is never too busy to go shopping, eat or sleep, but suddenly everyone is too busy to attend a seminar or to answer an old friend’s phone call.

A lot of times we mistake busyness for productivity, but these are two different things. You can be busy for the whole year and still be in the same place next year but there is no way you can remain stagnant if you are productive. You could be busy doing some “no ROI” activities but for you to be productive every investment you make, whether time or money, has to have a return in one form or another. You can easily say, “I was busy working” even if you were doing an activity that has no benefits to anyone, but you can’t say you were productive doing the same activity.

This explains why some people are far ahead of others in terms of health, wealth, relationships, network etc. We all get the same twenty-four hours in a day, yet people’s lives are crystal-clear different. It is definitely true that at first the differentiating factors might be; better education or them being extroverts but ten or twenty years down the line, will those still be the reasons? No, they won’t because with time and effort anyone can do or be anything, that is why it is often said that if you are born poor that is not your fault, but if you die poor that is your fault. Not on money matters alone, in any facet of life. Every one of us spends their time and effort on something, ask yourself, am I spending my time and effort being busy or being productive?

Busy remains the same over time while productivity compounds. If you are busy your growth will be much slower compared to if you were productive. Being busy is just doing something for the sake of finishing but being productive is doing things for the sake of progress, this might involve cutting out the fluff and getting straight to the main thing unlike in being busy where you just do everything. Being productive for a short while can and will give more yield than being busy for a long time.

How does someone become productive? Here are some tips to ensure that you get more done within a short time of effort. Keep in mind these are not the typical shortcuts and hacks that promise you the most for the least, these are actionable steps and do not work like magic.

  • Wake up earlier; as stated above, we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, so to create a bit more time to get more done, you need to wake earlier. You would be surprised how much you could do in the thirty minutes you added to your day by waking up at 6:30 instead of your typical 7:00. For example, a good thirty minute workout each day will change your physical appearance in a few months.
  • Do any activity but scrolling your phone after you wake up. It could be making your bed, showering or a simple exercise, this sort of switches your brain to work mode. Your brain will remain in this mode until you disrupt it. You can disrupt it after you have completed the day’s most important tasks.
  • Be hard on yourself and reward yourself after completing a task. When dogs are being trained, they are not punished for the bad they do rather they are rewarded for the positive progress they show, so in order for them to keep receiving treats, they have to keep the good. Instead of beating yourself up for wasting time, start rewarding yourself for the little good things you do, this will grow like a snowball because hey, who doesn’t like a reward.
  • Limit your phone screen time. Our gadgets, no matter how useful, take huge amounts of time off our day. Your screen time might not look like a lot but if you zoom out and look at it from the yearly perspective, you’ll be surprised. For more in detail review on this topic, read my article titled; YOUR GADGETS ARE COOL BUT…
  • Allow yourself a cheat day to break the rules a bit. This is recharge and to remind yourself that you are still human and need to have some fun. But be careful, having fun is addictive and if you allow yourself a bit more, you might get hooked and drown out your progress.
  • Push your boundaries every single day. This sounds like a lot but it is not, it can be as simple as adding five push-ups to your workout, drinking an extra glass of water or talking to a random person if you are a shy introvert. It will not be roses everyday but like the line graph in stocks chart, your progress is slowly going up with time. You actually start feeling thrill challenging yourself, not for the results but the process.
  • Start a business if you have not already. At your job you don’t make the rules and all you do daily is dictated by your superiors plus you do almost the same things daily, here you can only be busy and not productive. At your business, you make the rules, you have no limit, here you can be productive. This business if done right shall ultimately enable you make a living on your own terms.

Time is what life is made of so don’t waste it away in the name of “busy”. Get rid of the fluff and get straight to the point, study and find out what works effectively with the least investment. This is not to be mistook for shortcuts, shortcuts never work and are time wasters. Know and spend your resources on activities and people who reciprocate, even though you’ll never do this accurately all the time, you’ll become better at it. Allow yourself some fun too, but only after work. God rested after completing creation, not before, not in between.


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Maina Joseph

    Busy is like eating a fish full of bones, being productive is like eating a fillet, no wastage of time picking out small bones and comes at a bit higher price.
    please share your thoughts on busy vs productive

  2. Carson Anekeya

    Inspiring, I loved this.

  3. Danson Munyao

    Wow, this is a good read. The difference between being busy and being productive. Though, the line seems thin in between the two, but the results brings the distinction. Most often than not, majority of us are busy for nothing, without any progress. On the hand, less often than not,majority of us has shun productive pathway to a point that we have forgotten what productivity looks like. This is personal wake call to purpose to be productive no matter what.

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