Why does it seem that the busiest people get the most done? It’s certainly not just because they are busy. Being busy and being productive are very different things. You can be very busy with all sorts of distractions and time-wasters without getting a single thing done. You can also be very productive taking a long, relaxing walk while solving a very difficult problem that’s been blocking your work. But while they are very different, they do work hand in hand.
I’m sure you have heard Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I have often wondered why this was the case. Logically, it would seem that the people who aren’t as busy would have the most time and ability to get a task done.
While working in the corporate world, juggling work, home and two very active student athletes, I was often asked to take on one more task and for the most part I would happily take it on and get it done. Interestingly, now that I’m running my own business and my daughter is soon off to college, I find myself having more flexibility and more time and for a fact, I’m not as productive. My to-do list is longer than it ever was and tasks linger on my list for much longer.
Since I have now experienced first-hand the fact that the busiest people indeed are the most productive I have a better understanding of why this is true. Here are a few reasons why busy people get more things done.
THEY HAVE A SYSTEM
Busy people must be organized to keep up with everything they need to do. So, they naturally and routinely use systems to support them including their calendars, to-do lists, notes and communication tools. They have a process and are disciplined in sticking to it so when something new comes up, it simply fits right into their existing processes. There’s a place and priority for everything.
THEY ARE RELIABLE
Busy people deliver on their commitments. They agree to do something and get it done and then in turn, they are asked to take on more. They are asked to do more because they are dependable which in a way ends up being a vicious circle. The more they do successfully, the more they are asked to do. The biggest struggle for busy people is learning to say “No” to tasks that are unimportant or can be delegated to someone else.
THEY DON’T PROCRASTINATE
Busy people don’t have a lot of free time and they know that things always come up at the last minute so when a new task comes up, they try to tackle it as quickly and as soon as possible. To make sure it gets done, they will schedule time to get it done and sometimes they will even schedule a backup time to ensure there’s still extra time to do it. Recurring tasks are scheduled and conducted on a routine schedule for fear of them not getting done in time otherwise. On the other hand, those who aren’t so busy feel like there’s plenty of time to tackle a task later and often it just lingers.
THEY ARE FOCUSED
Because there’s so much to do, busy people recognize that when they are working on a task, they need to focus their full attention on it. They know they need to complete it as efficiently as possible and move on to the next thing. They do not have the luxury of dilly-dallying over a task for any extended period.
TRY THIS OUT: How busy are you? Look at your busier days and compare them to some of the not so busy days. Do you notice a difference in the level of your productivity?
After 25 years in the corporate world, working at Lotus Development, Ernst & Young, The Weather Channel and Play On! Sports, Monisha Longacre has founded her own company, Productivity101 and created priorigami: the art of productivity. Her mission is to provide simple, actionable and easy-to-use tools to help busy adults track, prioritize and complete tasks, to better manage their time and become more productive. She designed priorigami to be the "Fitbit" for productivity to help people lead more meaningful lives.