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Are You a Productive Professional, or Simply Busy?

By Brian Farris   |    October 26, 2020   |    9:43 AM

Understanding the Differences Between Productivity and Busyness

They may feel similar, but there's a big difference between being busy and being productive. 

Here's how to tell the difference, plus actionable tips you can use to take care of busyness so that you can finally take care of business.

If your workdays feel frantic and frenzied, it’s impossible to be truly productive

There’s more to productivity than getting as much done as possible during the workday. In fact, true productivity is essentially about working smarter, not harder.

This is difficult when it feels like an endless stream of urgent tasks gets brought to your attention every single day. The solution is both simple and complicated: Learn how to differentiate between urgent tasks and important tasks.

Just because something is urgent does not mean it’s important. Think about the difference in terms of goals. Important tasks get you one step closer to meeting larger goals. Urgent tasks still need to be completed, but jumping from one urgent task to another is a surefire sign that you’re busy, not productive.

If you tend to fixate on productivity hacks, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy

Productivity hacks and tips can be incredible tools that help you get more done. We’ve even written about them before here on the Intelligent Office blog (this article with 10 Creative Ways to Be More Productive is one of our favorites).

Unfortunately, productivity hacks alone won’t solve the underlying issues that result from being too busy. 

For example, the suggestion to “do one small thing” (which is tip #2 in the article linked above) isn’t very helpful if you always have a million small things on your plate. To fix that problem, you’ll need a different solution.

If you don’t outsource or delegate anything, you’ll be busy (but not productive)

Fortunately, there’s a great way to become less busy and more productive: outsourcing and delegating

These two topics are something we talk about often here at Intelligent Office. As a provider of virtual assistant services, this focus isn’t surprising. But, you can’t deny the power of outsourcing and/or delegating busy work so that you can focus on your core competencies (aka the things you can do that no one else can).

With the right support, you can become more productive and efficient. Here’s an example of outsourcing in action, from an Intelligent Office member utilizing our phone answering services:

A nonprofit organization in Nashville received funding to support families and caregivers. The organization knew call volume would increase substantially, but they didn’t have the budget or bandwidth to hire more full-time staff. So, they decided to work with a local Intelligent Office branch. 

They love that the receptionists take time to speak to callers with respect, compassion, and professionalism. The services they receive is also seamless — callers know they’re speaking with a member of the nonprofit’s extended team, not an impersonal phone answering service. Now, their team can focus without interruptions from the phones.

To become more productive, think about everything you can outsource

Phone answering is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to staying productive instead of busy. Take a look at the list below and ask yourself if tasks like these are preventing you from being truly productive:

  • Calendar management, including appointment scheduling and coordination.
  • Customer service, including answering the phones, responding to customer inquiries, and more.
  • Prospecting, including following up with new leads and potential customers.
  • Filing, printing, copying, and other administrative tasks.
  • Bookkeeping and accounting.

If you could use some help taking care of busyness, get in touch with the Intelligent Office team today. Before you know it, your productivity will skyrocket.