Busy doesn’t equal productive.

You might think it does, but it really doesn’t. You’ve probably had plenty of days where you’re running around the office like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to get multiple things done at once. Then, at the end of the day, you realize that, even though you felt like you were busy all day, you didn’t get much work done.

This ultimately happens because you didn’t manage your time well. And you’re not alone: many people feel busy when they’re not necessarily productive. Here are some tips that’ll help fix that:

  1. Stick to Your Schedule

Make sure that all of your tasks are scheduled throughout the day. Before your workday begins, you should assign times to everything you have to do.

Now that you have a schedule, make sure you stick it. It’s so easy to get distracted and go on social media or text your friend about weekend plans, for example. But your sense of busyness will worsen when you depart from your schedule, since the work you’re putting off keeps piling up. Consider using programs that restrict your social media use or block distracting sites.

  1. Create a To-Do List

Feel less busy by keeping track of your tasks in the form of a to-do list.

Some people find that to-do lists make them less productive, but that’s usually because they aren’t using it correctly. To-do lists should be used as a guide to help you navigate your way through the workday. Order your tasks by importance and break down each step to see the best results.

  1. Take Breaks

If might seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re busy is take a break. But the truth is, this can improve your productivity.

Productivity isn’t about how much time you spend working on tasks — it’s about performing at the highest level possible when you are working. You can re-energize and give yourself the mental boost you so desperately need when you take a break. This will help your work performance and allow you to get more work done in a short amount of time.

  1. Say “No”

You might be busy because you say “yes” to everything that comes your way.

Stop! You’re allowed to say “no,” and you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if you do. Sometimes you just aren’t able to work on something, and that’s more than acceptable. If you reject tasks that seem like they’ll waste your time, then you’re able to focus on more important tasks that are beneficial to you.

Before you commit to a task, you should really analyze what you’ll be doing. Is it busywork that won’t benefit you or the company? Is it something that has nothing to do with your job or department? Do you have time for this task? Ask yourself these questions, and don’t be afraid to say “no.”

  1. Think About Your Daily Achievements

Take time each day to reflect on what you’ve accomplished.

It’s possible to be so worried about the next task that you don’t take time to appreciate what you’ve already achieved. When you don’t finish a task at the end of the day, you feel like you haven’t done anything — and this lack of pride can carry into the next day and impact your productivity. Take time at the end of the day to reflect on your accomplishments.

  1. Prioritize Your Tasks

Not every task has equal importance.

Analyze each task and figure out the top three most important ones. Make sure you work on these first, and don’t worry about the rest. You’ll find yourself feeling less busy when you create a to-do list and only focus on the most important tasks. It’s more important to excel at these tasks than to rush through all of them and perform each task poorly.

  1. Don’t Get Caught Up on Busywork

Busywork is defined as work that keeps someone busy but has little value to that person.

The key part of this definition is that it has little value. Let’s say you have ten tasks that need to be completed. If you analyze these tasks, maybe you find that three of them are valuable. Do these three tasks first and try to avoid letting the busywork take up your time.

  1. Alter Your Perception

Don’t make yourself busy.

The difference between busy people and productive people is their perception. Busy people get overwhelmed by the number of tasks they need to complete, and this results in them feeling like they have so much to do. And then they’re so overwhelmed that they get little done.

Productive people choose to look at the value of each task instead of the specific number. They decide which tasks will benefit them and the company, and they focus solely on that task. When you start to do this, you’ll realize that you were never truly that busy to begin with.

  1. Focus on One Thing at a Time

It’s a very rare occurrence that you only have one thing to do at work.

Usually, you have multiple tasks lined up, and you’re running around the office trying to get things done. It might seem natural for you to try to get a few things done at once. Don’t do this. Switching between tasks lowers your productivity by 40%.

You work much better when your brain and body are focused on the same thing at the same time. Your productivity will increase when you stop trying to do everything at once, which makes you a whole lot less busy.

  1. Get Help From Others

You don’t have to do everything yourself!

Please let that sink in. A lot of the time, you might feel like you have to let all of the responsibility fall on your shoulders. Don’t let this happen.

One of the best ways to decrease your busyness and increase your productivity is to outsource your work to others. This will immediately take some daunting tasks off of your to-do list and boost your productivity, since you’ll get to focus on the tasks that matter most.

  1. Avoid Distractions

Phone calls, email and social media are productivity killers.

Distractions can make you feel busy, but all they do is slow down your work momentum. Phone calls and emails are tricky, because they seem like important tasks that you have to take care of. Sometimes this is true, but consider this: employees waste about 28% of their time at work checking emails. If you have to make a phone call or respond to an email, make sure you get to the point before the conversation gets out of hand.

You should avoid social media at all costs. There is no better way to waste time than by checking Facebook for a minute. This minute will very quickly turn into an hour that you could’ve been using to get work done.

  1. Do Something You Love

You might feel busy because you aren’t passionate about any of your responsibilities.

If this is the case, then maybe you should consider switching careers to something you love doing. You’ll still feel like you’re busy, but you won’t mind it as much because you love the work you’re doing. You’ll also be more productive, since you’ll be excited to go into work every day and get started on your daily tasks.

Being Busy Does NOT Mean You’re Being Productive

Don’t make the mistake of equating busyness with productivity. They’re very different, and by implementing the strategies above, you can boost your productivity and feel like you can take on the world. Give it a try! And share your success stories in the comments!

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

3 Comments on 12 Tips to Be Less Busy, More Productive

  1. Hebergement web
    August 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm (5 years ago)

    Make sure most of your diet includes nutrient-dense foods that let you accomplish more with less. Avoid sugar and empty calories and instead focus on making sure each snack and meal packs as much punch as possible. Remember, you re going for fueling your body and mind so you can accomplish more.

    • Sarah Landrum
      August 22, 2016 at 11:58 am (5 years ago)

      LOVE this! I try to avoid sugar as much as possible and I can definitely tell the difference when I have it – I feel so sluggish and out of focus.


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