What exactly is the difference between being productive and just being “busy”? The answer likely lies in the outcomes, rather than the output, of your day. If you begin the day with a distinctive list of what you are hoping to achieve, the way that list looks at the end of the day is a good indication of your productivity. It can help to think of productivity in terms of output that is specifically conducive to your goals, rather than output conducive to getting generally anything done.
Gary Keller, author of The ONE Thing, suggests focusing on just one thing at a time to combat slipping into ‘busy’ mode. Think of it like monotasking rather than multitasking. Select one thing to work on which will give you the largest amount of results the fastest, work on that first to gain some momentum, and then work backwards from there. Additionally, by very clearly delineating when you are working versus when you are enjoying free time, you can help to hone in your focus and increase productivity during your day while still maintaining work/life balance so as to avoid burnout. Categorising what you work on can help too, often known as ‘batching’ or ‘chunking’. Digital marketers, for instance, may dedicate a whole day to focus on writing any copy they need to produce. For that one day, they are able to devote their attention to just one area, meaning they can power through their work more seamlessly. You might do the same by batching all your meetings on one day in the week, or all planning sessions in one day.
These are all powerful ways to ‘own your day’ rather than letting your day own you!