Productive vs Busy

There is a difference between being productive and being busy – wondering what it is?

“I am SO busy” , “I can’t, I haven’t got time” “I’ve got so much going on”

Everyone is busy these days aren’t they? Does that sound familiar?

We have all said these phrases ourselves before and whilst they are definitely sometimes true it is not necessarily something we should aspire to be. And here’s why…

Learning the difference

I remember when I was a teenager I would look at people who were so busy and I couldn’t wait to have a life so full of things to do and people to see.

And then it happened. I was working retail 25 hours a week, studying full time and juggling a social life at the same time.

I was the definition of busy. No planner was big enough to fit my daily agenda in and I never had time for me.

For a while there I thought I was living the best life. “No I can’t, I’m so busy” I’d say smugly, multitasking everything because I’d get more done in less time and feeling like I was being really productive.

And then one day it clicked. Being busy is getting me absolutely no closer to my dream life.

In fact all being busy was doing for me was making me tired.

Actually I needed to be productive. I needed to stop multitasking and start focusing

I used to think being busy and being productive were the same thing, and I bet you did too didn’t you?

I’ve learned now that actually busy and productivity do not go hand in hand. What we need to do is learn the secrets of productivity.

But I am busy – I hear you cry!

I know – I’m with you – I’m busy myself – I have a lot on my plate too.

But with just a few mindset tweaks and a change to how we approach certain tasks I can teach you to use your busyness to your advantage.

Because, it turns out, I do love having a full and exciting life. But the key is to make sure I keep it productive as well in order to achieve my long term goals and dreams!


When you’re busy you are constantly on the move and working, which sounds great but after a few hours/days/weeks/months becomes a drain on your energy and productivity.

If you never stop to breathe then often you can’t focus very well so whilst you might be getting things done you aren’t doing them to the best of your ability.

Also burnout is a very real thing and it can cause you to feel unmotivated and completely lack energy.

In fact after my very busy year I talked about above I actually took a year out from education because I was so burnt out.

So the point is while sometimes you can’t avoid being busy it is not something you should aspire to be.


There’s a few ways to stop being busy and start being productive

The first is single tasking – instead of multitasking.

When you’re doing something just focus on that one thing.

Writing an essay? Stop trying to watch a video for another subject at the same time!

Revising? Don’t try and text whilst you’re doing it.

There are exceptions to this when you’re doing menial tasks which don’t require much active brain. For example listening to podcasts while cleaning the house or at the gym, but the general rule of thumb is focus on one thing at once!

When you focus on one thing at once you are putting all your energy into it which means you will get a better end result. Thus it’s more worth the time you have put into it!

The second is to learn to say no and to start prioritising. If you’re so busy that you’re struggling to keep up then don’t agree to take on that extra project or do that extra credit if you don’t have to!

Again you’re just going to end up with a bunch of stuff which is done to an okay standard when you could have a few things done to an excellent standard.

Similarly, you must prioritise! If you have far too much to do then sometimes you just have to accept that one or two things might not get done. And that’s okay.

Related post: How to create a to-do list that will help you be productive

Do you have any more tips to stay productive and stop just being busy? Let me know!


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