It’s that time of year, the post-holiday blues have come and gone, and business is in full swing. The machine is chugging along nicely and we are back to our normal go go go routine. But ask yourself, are you busy or productive?
While they may sound like the exact same thing, they’re not. In fact, they are two completely different things. Being productive is when you are actually doing meaningful work, kicking goals and ticking boxes as you push your business forward. On the other hand, ‘busy’ can mean just about anything.
As I talked about in the last issue of M2, a lot of people throw the word ‘busy’ around like it is something to be proud of, which it isn’t. When we’re ‘busy’, often time we are just chasing our own tails or trying to catch up on things that have fallen through the cracks.
To avoid getting caught up in this ‘busy’ trap and to set yourself up to achieve good, solid productive work, here are a few things that I fall back on:
Routine, structure and consistency
Three keywords: routine, structure and consistency. I believe they are the cornerstones of being productive and without them, you will be fighting a losing battle.
If you are anything like me, you’re a creature of habit that thrives off routine and structure. Get yourself into the practice of structuring your day in a manner that best suits your working habits. If you know you’re a morning person, schedule your most important tasks for the morning, smash it out and then see to the rest later.
However, the key to a routine is consistency. If you often break routine to go for lunch or check your emails, you will be right back at square one. They say 21-days makes a habit. So, if you are finding it hard to constantly stick to a schedule, challenge yourself for 21-days. I guarantee within a week you will never go back to your old ways.
Is it really worth your time?
Now as business leaders, our to-do list is never-ending, our inbox is always overflowing and someone is always wanting a second of our time. But, do all of these issues require your attention?
Chances are the answer is no. Not everything requires your direct involvement. While it is good to have visibility over what is happening in your business, figure out what is mission critical and what isn’t.
Hand it over
Now that you know what is worth your time and what isn’t, you can start to funnel responsibilities down the chain onto team members who may be better equipped to manage those issues.
By having the confidence and trust in your key team members to hand over certain day-to-day tasks, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. One, you’ll be able to focus on revenue generating activities that’ll help grow the business. Two, the daily operations will be handled with a higher level of detail and consistency.
Have an agenda
Now, we’ve all been to those meetings where there is no structure and the conversation seems to dart from one place to another. In my experience, these are the meetings where nothing is achieved, they are a waste of time and costly.
To avoid this, get in the habit of distributing an editable meeting agenda to all parties involved. This will provide everyone with a clear outline of what is to be discussed, thus keeping you accountable to ensure everything is covered.
Resulting in no wasted movement and guaranteeing all parties leave with a clear understanding of what’s next.
Always be talking to each other
We’re living in a time where we are more connected than ever before. Between emails, instant messengers, texts, Skype calls and any other communication methods you use, nothing should slip through the cracks. But, unfortunately, things do, briefs are misinterpreted, feedback is lacking and office Chinese whispers are common.
To counteract this, we need to always be talking to one another, both digitally and face-to-face. In this digital world, nothing beats a good old chat. What can be explained in a short five-minute stand-up meeting, may require a 20-email long chain that requires people to backtrack and look for keywords just to find one sentence, waste of time!
By having regular chats, you will be ensuring everyone involved is on the same page and questions or concerns can be raised. Leaving everyone more time to spend on a project, instead of trying to read between the lines.
While the line between being busy and productive may be fuzzy, in reality, it is night and day. In our experience, these are generally the key areas where people are wasting their time being ‘busy’ when all it takes is a quick adjustment in your actions to become more productive.