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4 Ways To Stop Being Busy And Start Being Productive

Written by: Neela Pirwitz, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Neela Pirwitz

We all know the feeling of being busy and barely having time to do the things we want to do during the day. But are we really that busy? Or are we just not being productive? These four tips can help you to move from being busy to being productive, and better yet, being efficient.


Shot of a businesswoman making notes on a glass board

We have all been there busy days that are so overloaded with tasks that there is no way of getting everything done. It feels like you are drowning in to-dos, and you’re struggling to keep your head above the water. It’s so much, that you don’t even know where to start, and no matter what you do in one day, it seems to get more by the next day. But are you really this busy? Or are you keeping yourself busy by not productively using your time and energy? And if you are being productive, are you also efficient?


You might think, ‘Trust me, between working, taking care of the house and maintaining a social life I really am busy. I don’t even get to the point of asking myself whether I am efficient. I do what I can.’. I get it. Having a long list of tasks and people to take care of, and squeezing in some time for yourself on the side can be very overwhelming and indeed keep you busy. Nevertheless, reflecting on how you use your time and energy and trying to make some adjustments can be helpful, and even free up some of your time.


Let’s start by talking about what it means to be busy. Being busy means you are occupied with different tasks you are trying to complete. You can be busy but procrastinate, and not get anything done. On the other hand, being productive means making progress on the tasks that keep you busy, which is much more desirable.

 

We can now take it a step further and ask: are you efficient while doing it? Being efficient means you are not only getting things done, but you are also getting them done in a way that requires the least possible time and energy and provides you with the best possible result. As an example, imagine your car is making a weird noise and you are determined to fix it yourself. You can take the whole car apart, and look for the broken piece. That would be productive because you are making progress in completing your task of fixing the car. Or, you can try to find out where the weird noise is coming from, and then look for the broken piece in that specific place. Chances are, the second way will require less of your time and energy and get you to the desired outcome a lot quicker.

 

So how can we move from keeping ourselves busy towards being productive, and better yet, efficient?

 

Writing your to-do list the night before

 

At the end of a long and stressful day, all we want to do is get away from the desk as soon as possible. Anything that we can’t take care of today will be a problem for our future selves. While that way of thinking is only natural, it is not necessarily helpful, because it will inevitably have us start the next day in a stressed way. Instead of being able to sit down at our desks and get started right away, or run the first errand of the day, we will have to to figure out what needs to get done. Additionally, we should be aware of decision fatigue. The more decisions we have to make, the harder it gets. Therefore, it is a good idea to ‘save’ our decision-making power for more difficult tasks. A good way to do that is to make small decisions, like writing a to-do list for the next day, the night before. Then, we still have what we did today and what needs to get done the next day fresh in our minds. We will likely be quicker at writing our tasks down, and the next day we can just get started without having to think about it.

 

Be done by one

 

Done-by-one is a way of working where you tackle the most difficult task of the day first, and aim to be done with it at 1 pm. It can often be helpful to swallow the biggest frog first and get the hardest task out of the way immediately. Not only will it show you that you can do hard things, but it can also give you a feeling of success and relief by lunchtime. The rest of the day should then feel like a breeze! Because even if you did not make it through your to-do list that day, the most important item on it got done. The feeling of success will prevail, and can even motivate you for the next day.

 

Give yourself incentives

 

A simple way in which we can complete tedious tasks, in particular, is by incentivising completing them. Whether you go to work from a café and drink your favourite hot beverage on the side, or promise yourself to make your favourite dinner once you’re done with this task, external motivators can be very helpful. Some tasks are just not fun to complete and are easy to push to the next day, next week or month. But, making the process more enjoyable for yourself can help to not only complete them but to complete them fast.

 

Take breaks

 

Even though it can seem counterintuitive especially when we have a lot of things that need to get done, it is important to take regular breaks. Most people can only focus for up to 52 minutes. After that, concentration is reduced and everything takes longer to complete. Taking regular, short breaks, can restore our concentration and in turn help us to complete tasks faster. Therefore, we complete a task quicker when taking a break, than when forcing ourselves to sit at our desks without focus until we complete that item on our to-do lists.


While it can be incredibly overwhelming to have a long list of to-dos, there are techniques that can help us work through them more efficiently. This way we can stop being so busy, and start being productive and even efficient, freeing up more of our time and providing us with more energy.


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Neela Pirwitz Brainz Magazine
 

Neela Pirwitz, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Neela Pirwitz, is a Jay Shetty certified burnout-prevention and well-being coach. She studied psychology and is now working for an international organization. Based in the Netherlands and coaching globally, she is working with professionals who want to become more efficient in how they work, create a better work-life balance, or restructure their routines and habits to prevent burnout. Neela’s mission is to help her clients to fit their work into their life, rather than life into their work.

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