Are You Being Effective Or Just Staying Busy?

Are you staying busy or being effective?It can be very easy to become overly-busy when you own your own business. After all there are a myriad of things to do and then more!

When you decide how you are going to invest your time and energy each week, are you asking yourself the right questions?

Or, are you just being crazy-busy?

I was working with a client the other day and as we were going through her new way of scheduling her week based on an in-person intensive we had together she said “It all looks good on paper, but then it just seems like there’s not enough time!”

Can you relate to that? I know I can.

As I delved deeper with her, we discovered the root of the problem was not how much time was available, but rather what choices she could make about how she spends her time.  When I asked her, “Are you working on x, y, z (from her strategic plan) or are you just busy doing stuff?”  The gaping silence answered that question.

I know personally there are some days where I am more effective in one hour than I was the whole previous day. Why? It has to do with choices about:

  • The actions I take
  • The thoughts I think

A magic elixir of what I do and how I do it.  Presence matters in business. We hear that all the time from leadership experts.  It is true, even if it is just you in your office alone on a given day.

So, how do you know if you’re being effective?  The proof is in measured results.

Effectiveness not Busy
photo credit: flik via photopin cc

The dictionary defines effective as: adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.

Are you getting the expected results?  If you’re getting unexpected results, what are they? What clues do they hold that can help you adjust your efforts on a daily basis to get better results?

Being productive is not always the same as being effective.  Let’s unpack that with a little dictionary reference:

Productive: having the power of producing; generative; creative: a productive effort.

You can be productive (generative or creative) without actually creating the results you seek.  This is the illusion of busy. What is important is how it all ties back to your goals and intentions of doing something in the first place.  For instance, if you are an artist, engaging with your chosen medium, can be very productive. If your goal as the artist is to make a living, then you’re not truly being effective until you’re selling the resulting artwork.  It doesn’t make the creative process less valuable or your energies misdirected; it is simply a matter of context and intended result.

The next time you’re staring at your schedule and going about your day, ask yourself:

  • Why am I choosing to do this task?
  • What is my intended result?

Then, after the appropriate time has passed, measure:

  • What results did I create?

If you’re not getting the results you intend it’s time to change either what you are doing or how you are doing it.

Keep these questions top of mind as you greet each day and start to notice – are you just keeping busy? Or, being effective?

Learn the 1 question you must ask yourself to choose the most important priority at any given moment in the (Free) “How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority: 7-Day Solution”




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