Activity doesn’t always equal productivity. Have you ever said, “I didn’t get anything done today?” Sometimes it is because we had a lot of interruptions that prevented us from getting things done. Other times it is because we did not focus on what was important. We’ve all done it.
We are dreading a particular project. We go to work in the morning planning to work on it; we know we need a total of four hours to complete it. When we arrive at work, we first check our email. While sorting though the inbox, we notice that our email could be better organized, so we take the time to clean things up, file, delete, etc. Now we feel pretty good about how our email looks. Then we look at our desk and notice that it is starting to look messy, so we work on that. We throw things out and dust, and by lunch time the desk is looking pretty good. Now it is time to eat. We have fours left to work after lunch, and we tell ourselves that we will work on that project when we get back.
When we get back from lunch, our boss tells us that we need to cover a one-hour meeting for him and then write up an overview of the meeting and have it to him by the end of the day. We know that it will take us at least 30 minutes to do the write-up, leaving only two and one half hours to do our four-hour project. Now what?
Let’s back up and evaluate how we handled the day. Were we being active or productive? Remember, being active is getting things done; being productive is getting the RIGHT things done. During this day, we spent our time working on various projects, so we were active. We did not, however, accomplish our goal of completing the four-hour project. Since we failed to get the right things done during our day, we were active instead of productive.
How could we have been more successful in our day?
1. We should have looked at our email during its scheduled time. While an important form of communication, email can be distracting. Instead of checking your inbox many times throughout the day, set aside a scheduled time to work on it. Check it only during that time to improve your time management.
2. Instead of planning to work on the project for four hours, we could have broken it into smaller chunks so we didn’t feel obligated to complete all four hours in one block of time. If we had worked on it in smaller amounts, we would have been less likely to procrastinate on it.
3. We should have prioritized what we were working on. Yes, the cleaning and organizing was nice, but it was not the highest priority and most likely wasn’t even on our to-do list. We worked on an extra task instead of on our main priority. Rather than focusing on tasks that did not need done when we first arrived at work, we should have worked on the four-hour project. We need to work on the right tasks first.
4. We should have written and followed a schedule. While we knew that we needed to work on the project, we did not set aside a specific time to work on it. We instead decided to work on it “later.” The problem with later is that later never comes.
If we are active but not productive, we accomplish little and fail to reach our full potential. Don’t settle for only being active. Focus on the right things so that you can be productive in your work.
You have a choice, and the choice is yours.
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Keywords: Change, Goals, Goal Setting, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Personal, Priorities, Procrastination, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Work, Uncategorized