If you were to sit down and really evaluate everything you work at daily in your business, be honest with yourself. What are you feeling more of – endless days of being busy beyond what you can keep up with? Or solid productiveness that is helping you move the needle? If you aren’t quite sure or feel like it could be the former, let’s chat about it. Let’s chat busyness vs. productiveness.
Back in my beginning days of entrepreneurship and building my business, I wore my ridiculous amount of hours worked and lack of anything resembling boundaries and self-care like a badge of honor. It was normal for me to work 15 hour days thinking that it somehow put me ahead of everyone else who wasn’t doing the same. You know, those not willing to “hustle” as hard as I was. Looking back? While I learned so much in business during that time, but the fact is that all it truly got me was less time with my family along with an addiction to energy drinks. I wasn’t living a life of extreme wealth and I didn’t have an endless supply of clients lined up on my doorstep.
So what was the problem? I was investing all of this time into my business so why was it not paying off? What I was doing was equating “busy” as being “productive”. And those are two very different things.
We often value ourselves based on how busy we are. However, being busy is not a yardstick with which we should measure our worth, or our productiveness. We have to re-wire our brains to understand that doing less with more impact is far greater. It’s about busyness vs. productiveness and making sure we are on the right side of things. So how do we do this? Let me give you five tips that have really worked well for me.
I don’t mean long extended breaks. We want to infuse regular breaks throughout our days. Why is this important? Science has proved that our brains do better when given the opportunity to “break free” from the task at hand. Regular breaks increase productivity, creativity, restore motivation, improve learning, and help prevent decision fatigue.
Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project shares the “pulse and pause” mantra. From research done, he teaches that we as humans naturally go from completely focused and energized to mental fatigue after 90 minutes. So figure out your optimal sprint time – the time you work best before you start to lose focus. This could be 25 minutes, 50, or even 90 minutes.
Try setting a timer for every task. Planning out your social media content for the week? Put 30 minutes on the timer. When the clock runs out, spend 5 to 10 minutes stretching, drinking some water, getting a healthy snack, or stepping outside. Anything that gets your focus off of what you were just doing. From there, figure out your natural rhythm. Discover when you feel your brain telling you it’s time for a breather.
No one can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week while living as their best self. Make sure and sit down to figure out a realistic work schedule based on your lifestyle and the season you are in. And yes, that should include factoring in both your professional life and your personal life.
Between running my business, building my side hustle, and educating our five cubs, I have to have clear boundaries for when I have my mom hat on and when I have my CEO hat on. For myself, I work Monday through Friday and sometimes Saturdays if we have nothing going on and everyone is just hanging out at home.
Each day differs with my start and end time depending on many variables with the cubs, their studies, etc. If I had a good night of sleep without being up to care for Blair, then I am up at 4:30 AM to get four solid hours of work in before any kids are awake. Then we will all dive into home studies and be done by lunchtime. If I was up the night before, I allow myself to sleep in a bit, I’ll work a few hours and then dive into home studies in the afternoon.
I’m really trying my best to reserve Sundays as a true day of rest and while sometimes it works out, sometimes I have to get to some things before the next week starts – from prepping the kids’ studies or handling some personal admin tasks.
Do I get to everything I need to every single day? Not always. But guess what? That is OK. Remember that re-wiring the brain thing I mentioned before? This is part of that. There will always be things left on your desk at the end of the day. Pick up where you left off tomorrow.
And I still swear by block scheduling.
Being in front of a screen all day long, reaching for unhealthy snacks perhaps throughout your day, not taking time to move your body – it will catch up with you. And it can bring on a host of additional issues and problems like poor health, depression, and more.
Make it a priority to not only get your heart rate up but do it outside. Feel the sun on your skin and enjoy a daily walk, jog, or workout. Whatever you enjoy most. It not only is good for you physically, but you will be amazed at how much more you are able to focus and accomplish. It helps to clear that brain fog!
This could be a weekly thing or perhaps bi-weekly, even monthly. Set aside regular time to get away from work and reflect on what is working and what isn’t. Are your workflows allowing you to move forward in projects? Or are there cracks and holes that need to be addressed? This will aid you in increasing your productivity as you find the areas that are causing time to be wasted. Is there a new goal you would like to begin working towards? Break down the process and steps that will get you there. Download my free 2022 playbook to get this done.
And goodness gracious, daydreaming isn’t just for the kids! Take some time to do it. Sit in and marinate on those things you envision for yourself and allow yourself to be excited for them to come to fruition.
As an online business owner, I can attest to the power of breaking free on a regular basis. Think of it as your “digital sabbath”. I was very good about this for a long while and plan to get back to it. We have forgotten how to just be without our fingers scrolling or tapping.
Plan a day of the week that you unplug. Put all the technology away. Allow your brain and body to truly rest. Soak in time with your people and be present. When I was practicing this habit regularly, I felt so much more rested, inspired, and productive when I got back to work and life the next day.
Remember, busyness vs. productiveness – which one would you rather see more of?
I know what you are thinking: Kara. If I take the time to do all of this there is no way I can get to everything I need to in my business! I have been there and have had that exact same mentality. However, if you are currently feeling stressed, overworked, strung out, and burned out…
Your way isn’t really working anyway… right?
Try it. I promise you won’t regret it. You deserve to feel full of life while you are building the one you crave, okay? I’m giving you permission.
So those are my five tips! I hope you find something in all of that helpful. Most importantly when it comes to busyness vs. productiveness, we just need to stop glorifying busyness and start prioritizing living.