The definition of productivity

The definition of productivity – 9 examples of busy vs productive

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What is a good definition of productivity? What is the difference between being busy and being productive? Why is it important to understand the difference?

The definition of productivity

According to Wikipedia, the definition of productivity is “the state or quality of being productive.” In my opinion, is a bit closer to the truth in their definition of productivity: “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.”

The key part of the last definition of productivity is “being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” The second definition tells us that you are not being productive unless you generate, create, enhance, or bring forth what you are working on.

In other words, you are not productive unless you are doing the right things.

How do you know if you are productive?

In order to know if you are being productive, you have to know what to do. In order to know what to do, you have to have a plan. What’s the purpose of a plan? To reach a goal. With this in mind, let’s have a new look at the definition of productivity:

The definition of productivity: ''Consistently taking actions on your goals.'' Click To Tweet

The difference between busy and productive

Here are nine key differences between busy people and productive people.

1. Busy people have a to-do list, productive people have a plan with a list of next actions

Productive people are getting closer and closer to their goal, one planned action at a time. They do not add an action to their list unless it’s contributing to the accomplishment of a goal.

to-do lists do not work

Why your to-do lists do not work

Are you writing long to-do lists only to leave them unchecked? Are you finding yourself repeating the same things on multiple lists? Learn why your to-do lists do not work.
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2. Busy people react, productive people act

If you have a plan and focus on the next action, and a system for tracking and reviewing your projects, you will find that the need for putting out fires decreases because you are able to change course or adapt if needed.

3. Busy people jump into action, productive people think before they act

There is a lot of wisdom in the old saying “let me sleep on it.” Unless you are working in the fire department, there are not a lot of issues that require an immediate response. Distance might change your perspective.

4. Busy people multitask, productive people singletask

Trying to get more done by multitasking is like stop sleeping to get more done. What I learned while researching my blog post about multitasking scared me.

Multitasking is bad

Multitasking is bad – Why concentrating on one single task is much better

There are a lot of reasons why multitasking is bad. Let's start with the obvious: You suck at it. If you continue to read you will find out why, and what to do instead.
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5. Busy people have many priorities, productive people have maximum three priorities

This is a variation of the multitasking vs singletasking effect. If you are really going to bring things forward, choose maximum three things to focus on.

Focus, finish, re-focus. Repeat.

6. Busy people does everything themselves, productive people delegate

Are you the right person to do a task? Remember that delegation can go both sideways and upwards. It does not always have to go to a subordinate. If you run a one-man show, consider hiring a consultant or a virtual assistant.

7. Busy people try to get work done in between meetings, productive people set aside time for work

Most work that adds value require concentration. Instead of trying to do this kind of tasks in between meetings, finish your notes and actions from the previous meeting and prepare for the next meeting. Set aside time on your calendar to do work that requires concentration.

Want to be more productive? Make room for work

Want to be more productive? Make room for work

Most of the so-called knowledge workers are struggling with the same dilemma: Constant distractions. E-mail, phone calls, text messages, meetings, colleagues. The solution is not to work more; it's to work smarter. Here are some tips to get you started.
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8. Busy people just work their to-do list, productive people know why they need to do something

Don’t’ just put things on a list. Know why you have to do that particular thing. This way, when circumstances change, you can adjust your actions accordingly. If you and everyone around you understand their role in the bigger picture, doing the right things becomes a lot easier.

What’s your purpose in life? (Picture: Bigstock)

9. Busy people keep lists everywhere, productive people have one trusted system

If you keep your lists in your head, on Post-it notes, on your calendar, and in a notebook – how do you keep control? If you have what David Allen calls one trusted system, then you have only one place to check to make sure that you are on top of things.

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