The heat is on! Busy and productive are often used as synonyms but are much different concepts. You very rarely hear a successful person say, “I’m busy.” Typically when you ask a successful person how things are, they will provide you specific priorities they are focused on. It implies that tasks are important, necessary and useful. Being productive refers to achieving results and making progress towards a goal. When you ask a busy person how things are they usually say, “been busy” or “can’t even remember what I have been doing.” Busy refers to having lots of things to do or being occupied with various tasks. It doesn’t imply or mean those items are important, necessary, or useful but rather the busy person is playing whack-a-mole.
Here are some examples: Busy person: You have 2 returns that you need to wrap up that have been nagging at you for days. You also have to spend some time on an A client analysis then call them. You think, “I have to do these things today.” You walk in the office or open the computer.. email and urgent not important (Quadrant 3 from Covey’s time management matrix) items take the day away. Examples are pesky B/C clients or non-billable therapy time (NBTT). At the end of the day.. the returns are top of mind, the A client is still on your mind.. still not done. You were busy NOT productive. Productive person: You have 2 returns you have to get done.. you get to the office spend the morning cranking them out (Quadrant 1/2).. then you address email etc.. at the end of the day you close your computer with your priorities for tomorrow set in stone and blocked on the calendar. The returns are complete and you sleep well. You were productive.
The definition of a priority is a thing that is regarded as more important than another. Busy people cave on their boundaries, are disorganized and often victims of the day. Productive, successful people prioritize and set boundaries which enables them to win the day. Are you busy or productive?