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Are You Confusing Being Busy with Being Productive?
by Bryan Beckstead

I think deep down inside we all know the answer to this question; at least I hope we do. For the people who are truly trying to get ahead, do a good job, make some money, get some decent results, being busy and being productive are two entirely different end results. To the people who are just going through the motions, one is as good as the other, sad but true. Let's look at the difference and see if we can be more productive and less busy.

First, the difference

Being Busy

Who cares how busy you are. What did you accomplish? That, in a nutshell, is the difference. Being busy is meaningless. What matters is, what did you get completed, accomplished or moved closer to being finished? Being productive is about concrete results. Results that you can measure and quantify. What does being busy mean? You get my point, I hope.

Being Productive

This is where the rubber meets the road; this is the granddaddy of them all. At the end of the day, what was added to the plus column? What I like about production and productivity issues is that there is no grey area, jobs got done or they did not. No grey area. There is another side to productivity and that is time. Was the activity completed in the optimum time frame? That aspect is always open to debate. Without trying to be cute, remember that you can always be busy and productive, but the reverse is not necessarily true.

So, at the end of a busy day, or shall I say a full day, what is the verdict? You were working hard all day, you felt as if you could not have worked any harder. How do you rank your day? We have decided that just being busy or working hard is not an indicator of whether it was a productive day. So what criteria do we use?

There are a number of ways to judge your day, but I will use just two here.

The Gut Check System

This is a simple one, but fairly accurate. First, for this system to work, it has to be used by the group pf people I mention in the first paragraph; the group that is really serious about getting ahead, getting results and making money. You have to look in the mirror and decide if you are in that group or not. I can't help you with that one I'm afraid. If you do indeed fit in that group, then the gut check system will work for you.

The system works like this; if at the end of the day you have the feeling that a good day's work has been accomplished, then you can be pretty sure that you accomplished plenty, at least enough to satisfy you for today. I find the people who truly want to get ahead, want to succeed, are usually tough enough on themselves to be subjective judges. If at the end of the day you have that unfulfilled feeling, like you left something on the field, then you know there is room for improvement.

The Second Way Is By The Book

We are, I hope by now, all using our Day Planners, Prioritizing our Activities and then Time Activating those Activities in our Day Planners, right? If we are, the easy way to see how our day went is to simply compare what we wanted to get done with what we did get done. If we had 6 key A Priorities to accomplish, along with all of the routine housekeeping tasks, and we got through our list, it was a good day. You deserve a well-earned break. If not, there is work to do.

Before I leave this section, I cannot do so without throwing a little gasoline on the fire. The fire that I'm talking about is the segment of the population that holds dear to their hearts the notion that if they say they have done their best, that is all anyone can ask of them and we are then suppose to let them off the proverbial hook. I don't belong to that group, as you would probably expect. I do not believe in giving people crutches because they will more than likely use them. Saying you did your best is a very limiting and defeatist position. I don't like to admit defeat and I don't think you should limit your self to saying all we should expect from your is your best. My best two years ago is far from my best today, and I sure hope my best even 6 months from now is better than my best today. Enough said.

Bryan Beckstead may be contacted at

Bryan Beckstead is the creator and developer of the Power Time System and the Power Productivity Maximizer and has been involved in the Self Improvement and Self Empowerment industries for almost 35 years. His aggressive, in-your-face approach has earned him a reputation as someone who will give you the facts without the usual sugar coating. If you are really serious about improving your quality of life, visit him at


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