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Differences Between Busy People and Productive People

Have you been exhausted at the end of a busy day, only to realize that you have not accomplished anything significant? Or have you been so busy doing so many jobs in the day but missed out (again) the one thing you really needed to do? Then you must certainly be busy, but perhaps not so productive.

Being busy and productive are two different things. Often, we are so busy that we have become unproductive. So, how can you differentiate the two?

Here are six behaviors that differentiate busy people from productive people.


Busy people believe that multitasking is a great skill. However, simultaneously doing multiple activities requires splitting your focus and does not guarantee success in accomplishing all the tasks. If you juggle several works at hand, there is a huge possibility that you may miss an important activity or detail.

If you are working on your weekly report, researching for a new project, answering customer inquiries, and checking your emails all at the same time, the chances are that you will complete none of these effectively by the end of the day.

To be productive, you must learn how to prioritize and then focus on one task at a time. When you concentrate on one thing first, you can finish it faster with higher quality. Then, you can move on to the next priority. You are also doing your brain a huge favor because with multitasking, it has to work extra hard as you shift from one idea to another.

Saying Yes

Agreeing to everything is common to busy people. While being optimistic is a good trait, saying yes to all things thrown at you is not always be the best choice. If you keep accepting every request and task assigned to you, you will feel overwhelmed. With your tasks piling up, you'll be more stressed, and you'll find it harder to concentrate and do anything productive because you're worried about everything else.

You need to learn the art of saying no to be more productive. Take time to evaluate the importance of things before accepting the task. It's okay to say no, especially if the request is beyond your capacity due to other commitments. Don't feel guilty about it because you can only do so much.

Taking A Break

Breaks are viewed differently by busy and productive people. If you think taking breaks are interruptions that will prevent you from accomplishing your goals, then you are probably a busy person.

Breaks are opportunities to energize and refresh your mind so that you can be more efficient. Even machines need to be shut off at times so they can run better.

Productive people know that they need to take a break. Listen to your favorite artist, read a good book, get a power nap, or walk around. Simply clear your mind. It can give you a new perspective and make you more productive and efficient.

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Responding To Emails

Something as basic as email handling can differentiate busy and productive people. If you check your inbox at the start of the day and respond quickly, you are a busy person. You might think that there is no problem with this, but if you do this the whole day, then they may end up being your major focus. You might not be able to finish your allotted tasks because you are so occupied in responding to your emails.

On the other hand, a productive person has a system of processing emails and responding to them at a convenient time. You can set 30 minutes to an hour mid-day to check all your emails instead of doing them first thing in the morning. Keep in mind that there will be other options for contacts to reach you if something is urgent.

Managing Time

Given the same amount of time each day, busy and productive people differ in how they manage it. You are a busy person if you feel that you do not have enough time to accomplish your tasks, and you complain about it rather than act to remedy it.

While busy people consume their time complaining or telling others how busy they are, productive people make the most of their time, doing things that contribute to completing their tasks. If a task is not beneficial to your mission, do not do it. Do not use lack of time as an excuse for things you have not done by choice.

Perspective On Other People

A busy person and a productive person have different perspectives on other people. A busy person wants others to be busy as well. If a busy person sees someone else enjoying their work or looking relaxed, it frustrates them. A productive person learns to view other people by their output rather than their activity. This includes a person's quality of work and their ability to create a working environment where they can excel.

When you focus on yourself, you can be more productive. Stop minding how others are doing their work, especially if they have nothing to do with yours. Love what you do and let others be happy (or not) in their work too.

Being a busy person or a productive one is a choice, and it is yours to make. Even if you fall into the busy category, you can still change and improve yourself – work smarter instead of working harder. Focus on the important tasks first, manage your time well, and learn to say no. Know your purpose and let it be your motivation for what you do. Do not just keep yourself busy. Be productive, and watch your happiness improve.

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