You want to be more productive. You know you have work that has to get done if you’re ever going to move your business forward and achieve the success you want and deserve.
But you get to the end of the day and look at your to do list and realize that you got a lot of little things done, but you didn’t make any real progress toward achieving your goals.
That’s busy work. It’s like a thief in the night that steals your productivity and your energy without you realizing it. It sneaks up on you so that at the end of the day you wonder why you’re tired, but can’t really see what you’ve accomplished.
There’s a work strategy that I use called “The One Thing”. I learned it from my mentor, and it goes something like this… You prioritize your day based on answering one question: What’s the one thing I absolutely have to do today to get me closer to achieving my goals? And you do that first.
Here’s what I’ve learned about that… If I let it, busy work will take me away from doing my one thing. I’ve also learned to recognize busy work and stop it in its tracks.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
Busy Work Looks and Feels Urgent
The important thing to understand about busy work is that feels urgent. However, busy work never adds value to your business. A good example of busy work would be checking your social media accounts the second your phone dings. Doing this makes you feel productive even though you aren’t.
I tried an experiment and took the Facebook app off my phone and turned my email notifications off. My phone hardly ever goes off now, and when it does I know it’s a text from either my son or a client. I get a lot more done during the day too because I’m not continuously checking to see what I’m missing out on.
Saying no to busy work means you have to be willing to say ‘no’ to seemingly urgent tasks. For example, if you’re working on a client project and you get a message that it’s time to update your website software, then it’s easy to get off track. Before you know it, your day is over and the client project is still waiting for you.
Busy Work Feeds Your Procrastination Habit
Busy work is a form of procrastination. It might not look like procrastination, but it is. A good example of this is one of my busy work habits – before starting to work on a project, I’ll make a huge brain dump list and then try and organize it all. I tell myself that it’s so that I know exactly what I need to do, but… I already know what my one thing is I need to do, and this is really just busy work to procrastinate on doing the one thing. While it’s true that there are legitimate ways to procrastinate productively, this is probably not it. You know it, and I know it.
Saying no to busy work means understanding that it causes you to make a lot of plans. I have file folders full of plans that I’ve made and never done anything with. It’s taking action on those plans that will make the difference.
One thing you can do is make a deal with yourself. Set the timer for ten to fifteen minutes and make an outline for your project. When the timer goes off, you start working on the project even if the outline isn’t totally finished. You don’t have to see the whole road to get to your destination; you just need to know what the next step is.
Busy Work Masks Fear and Overwhelm
Here’s the biggie when it comes to busy work – it’s a great cover-up for fear and overwhelm. It’s’ not uncommon to feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to learn a new strategy or create a product. For me, it’s doing video. I can push that aside with busy work all day long!
That’s what busy work does... it gives us an out and lets us focus on less important tasks that we’re comfortable doing, so that we don’t have any time left over to focus on the things we need to do to grow our business.
If you find that you’re using busy work to avoid overwhelming projects, go back to the “one thing” strategy. What’s the one step you have to take today to move closer to achieving your goals? How can you break that overwhelming project down into a series of one things? Try that and see what happens.
In order to keep busy work from stealing your productivity, you have to understand what it is. Even more importantly, you need to know why you’re doing this busy work, so you can tackle the real root of the problem.
Do you have a better idea of what busy work is now? And do you indulge in it or are you one of those super organized people I’m so jealous of? Share your thoughts in the comments or chime in on the discussion in the group.
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