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How Being Busy Is Unproductive

by | Productivity | 0 comments

Busyness is like a disease.

We cram as much as we can into our limited time. Much of the crammed tasks are trivial, meaningless or not important to us. Yet making yourself busy isn’t the same as actually getting things done.

Have you had a day where you felt like you didn’t have a moment to spare, yet you felt like you didn’t accomplish much of anything?

Most of us do this.

And I don’t know about you but it makes me upset with myself, like a ran a race all day to find myself still standing on the starting line, exhausted at the end of the day.

There are many reasons, but it’s usually a failure to prioritize and focus on tasks that will actually make progress toward our goals. So how do you stop these crazy busy days that you get nothing done?

First, let’s look at some of the common symptoms of being busy but unproductive

  • You’re worried right now about how busy you will be tomorrow
  • You’re actually annoyed that the people around are not as busy as you are.
  • You spend your evenings dwelling on all the stuff you didn’t accomplish today.
  • You don’t pay attention during conversations because you’re too occupied thinking of all the things you should be doing instead.
  • You eat meals in your car.

If this sounds like you, now is the time to put your foot down and take control of this out-of-control busyness.

Here are some ways to stop being busy, free up time in your life and get things done


Decide what the most critical tasks are to accomplish today. If you don’t choose what you’re going to do today, you’re letting the world decide your priorities for you. Control the direction of your day by making a decision before the day even starts.

Notice the time you’re wasting.

Many times, we intentionally avoid doing what we know we should be doing. (That hurts a little, doesn’t it). We don’t want to make that difficult call or work on that report we’ve been dreading for weeks.

We are all excellent at inventing other things to do that don’t really have a lot of impact. Notice what you do when you don’t want to do what you know you should be doing. It might be tidying your desk, checking your email, or getting another cup of coffee. When you begin to notice your ‘stalling’ behaviors, you can quickly catch yourself and get back on a productive track.

Keep your to-do list short

Write a list of everything you need to get done, and then just focus on getting the top 3 to 4 things done today. That might not seem like enough, but imagine what your to-do list would look like today if you had been doing this exercise for the last couple weeks. The goal isn’t to stay busy – the goal is to accomplish the important things and to move forward.

The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of your work can be completed with 20% of your actions. Focus on the most essential things, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done with ease.

Eliminate the excess stuff

Avoid spending your time on optional activities unless you genuinely enjoy them. That means you shouldn’t spend your free time on that charity or club if it doesn’t really matter to you. There are a lot of “it would be nice to do things” that is okay to just say no to. Strive to say no as many of the non-meaningful activities taking up your time as possible to leave room for the meaningful things.

Limit your time

If you allow yourself a limited amount of time to work on a task, you’ll be forced to get the critical part done first, and you’ll be less likely to jump into your stalling behaviors. The fear of you not getting it done in time will increase your efficiency.

Measure yourself

At the end of each day, ask yourself how busy you were. Ideally, you should have a full day, but you shouldn’t have an endless list of random tasks to complete.

Life should be full, but it shouldn’t be busy. If you’re too busy, it’s likely that you’re either spending too much time on things that don’t really matter or you’re spending too much time on tasks that aren’t productive.

Prioritize your day and your activities, stick to those items, and you’ll enjoy getting more done in less time.

Here’s to creating the life you LOVE!


Torie Mathis helps entrepreneurs get from where they are to where they want to be by working smart.  She is a best-selling author, Army veteran, speaker + trainer, and your mentor to creating the business+ life you love. She has cracked the code for creating a lucrative, independent business + an amazing lifestyle. She can help you with your marketing and business growth, your clarity and purpose and help you reach your vision of success. 🙂

Torie hosts SMART AF, a show for non-techy, non-marketers looking to grow their business, with her husband Sean and is the creator of SMART AF Magazine.


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