According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the word “busy” is defined as “engaged in action”, “full of activity”, “foolishly or intrusively active”, and “full of distracting detail”.
According to the same dictionary, the word “productive” is defined as “having the quality or power of producing especially in abundance”, “effective in bringing about”, and “yielding results, benefits, or profits”. See the difference?
“Busy” is one of the most common replies, if not the most common reply to typical questions such as:
How are you doing? “I’m busy”
How was your weekend? “Busy”
How’s was work today? “Busy”
How are the kids? “They’re keeping busy”
How was your day today? “It was busy”
How does your day look? “Busy”
It can be easy to misconstrue the meaning of the word “busy” with the meaning of the word “productive”. They are not the same and it can severely limit your productivity and enjoyment to believe so.
Being Busy Does Not Mean You’re Being Productive
I could wake up with just enough time to do the “necessities” and still get to my first client on time. I could then make my way to my first client without any intentions toward what I would like to achieve for this client, my other clients, for myself, or for the day as a whole. I could go about my day mindlessly personal training and coaching clients and chalk it up to a “busy day”.
Was I actually busy? Sure, by definition I guess I was. Was I productive? Nope.
I had no clear intention for what results I would like to yield from any aspect of my day. This lack of direction allowed me to meander through my day mindlessly, without having to invoke additional thought into the process of my day.
I was “active” but I was not “effective at producing or bringing about the results” I could have. Why is this? Because…
To be “productive” you must yield a specific, consistent result from your actions, you must deliver that action with intention, with purpose, with the desired result in mind. Otherwise, you’re just “busy”.
The Busy Person
People who are “busy” typically end up doing tasks to fill the gaps just for the sake of doing something to stay “busy”, followed up by some justification for their “business” . People who are “busy” generally get caught up doing monotonous tasks quite mindlessly or in a distracted sense, with the purpose of just getting shit done, and not working toward, or yielding a result that serves to their abundance. Their focus is on finishing and frequently can have their mind set on the next task prior to completing the current one.
The Productive Person
People who are productive generally have preset intentions for their day or tasks, along with clear purposeful actions that yield desired results. The productive person wants a specific result. Their focus is on the task at hand, using their presence to act mindfully with purpose and intention.
The actions performed by each person may be similar, but the results won’t be.
Two people can sing the same tune but that doesn’t mean they will sound the same.
Choose Your Words Wisely
It is no secret that the words we speak to others and to ourselves have a profound effect on our beliefs and mental state. This is why I encourage you, even if you feel you were unproductive, to start using the word “productive” every time you feel the urge to use the word “busy”.
Over time you will start to believe your own words. If you say that you were, or are “productive”, often enough you will start to believe it. This attests to choosing words that serve you rather than hinder you regardless of whether you believe them at the time or not, eventually, you will.