Productivity vs ActivityAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things." ~ Peter Drucker
Are you being productive or just active? They’re not the same thing, but we often use—unconsciously—the concept of activity to deceive ourselves (or consciously, to fool our boss). Sometimes we need to feel busy to not have to do other important tasks that make us uncomfortable for any reason. “I keep doing things all day. So cool!”. No doubt you’re working hard; you show dedication, but dedication sometimes masks a meaningless work. Are you inventing things to avoid doing what’s important? Think carefully about it and be honest with yourself.
Find out which of your daily activities produce results and bring you closer to your goals. Surely, there are a few that just waste your time or, at least, take a long time and produce very little results. Checking your email is necessary to serve your customers, partners and friends, but is it necessary to get it done so many times a day? Something similar happens with the social networks; do you get more benefit from them spending two hours than just 20 minutes? Reading news and blogs is undoubtedly important for your work and your interests, but how much of what you read end up being used for something important?
Think a little. Being active is not necessarily being productive; it can even mean the opposite. In order to have more time you need to do fewer things. According to Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, there are two main ways to accomplish this and should be used together:
- Define a very short list of tasks. Don’t start your day without a clear list of your priorities. There should never be more than two critical tasks to complete each day. If you are not sure about which tasks are critical, ask yourself two questions: What’s the benefit of doing this? and what if I don’t do this? Finally, you must do them from start to finish without distraction.
- Define a NOT-to-do list. This category consists mainly of activities that are very time-consuming—phone calls, emails, conversations, meetings, etc.—. May not be removed completely, but you can minimize their impact by batching them and including them in your regular routines.
A good number of your daily activities don’t translate into productivity, both at work and in your personal life. The only productive actions are those that produce results. Don’t work so hard, work smarter.