Social media today fuels the need to constantly feel busy whether it’s Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook everyone is always doing something, achieving some goal, progressing, still working. This definitely makes me feel guilty when I’m not doing something to improve but it’s so important to remember, that feeling of being busy doesn’t always equate to productivity. You can feel super busy, like you haven’t rested in weeks but it doesn’t mean you’re any closer to hitting a target or completing a big project. It depends on the type of work you’re doing, how you’re organising your time. Downtime can be just as important as working time.

Busy doesn’t mean productive

Small tasks like sorting emails, paperwork, repetitive home tasks etc. although they need to be done, too much time spent on these can make you feel busy, but if you don’t chip away at those bigger tasks you’re unlikely to be being productive during this time. Organise your time to ensure that you are spending some time on the bigger projects, maybe the ones you’re putting off. These are the ones which will help you actually be productive.

Down time is just as important

Spending all your time being any kind of productive will burn you out, and then you’re pretty useless to anyone including yourself. Take care of yourself and schedule down time for between those busy periods. You’ll be more productive in the long run as you won’t be facing burnout and brain fog along with tiredness which is just going to mean you’ll be slower at completing those important tasks.

To do lists

Sometimes the only way to actually see how productive you are being and how you are spending your time is with a to do list. I love to do lists and will make them for anything, they make things less overwhelming and take things off your mind. Every so often I create a huge brain dump to do list where I write down everything that’s on my mind, all the tasks I need to do no matter how small. Doing this helps clear my mind so I feel more relaxed and then can get on with the task in hand without worrying about what other things I have to get done and whether I have remembered everything. To make the to do list work even better in making your time productive, break it down with an urgent/important system. Split a page into four and write across the top ‘urgent’ and ‘non-urgent’ then down the left hand side write ‘important’ and ‘not important’ this will leave you with four boxes – important and urgent, important and not urgent, urgent and not important and not urgent and not important. This can help you clearly categorise your to do list and see what you should be doing first and what you can leave until later or maybe remove all together!

Be realistic when goal setting

With goals, or to do lists, be realistic! Don’t set yourself up to feel rubbish when you haven’t achieved what you aimed to and it wasn’t doable. Consider the time frame you are working with, whether you may have emergencies crop up in your type of work, how common these are and whether they will greatly impact your list. Give some thought to how long you need to complete each of the tasks and whether you are allowing enough or too much. Think about how much concentration each task needs and whether you simply can’t give 100% for 8+ hours solid. Where you have a dip in energy or mental concentration fills these gaps with lower brain power draining tasks.

Ignore what everyone else may seem to be doing

Remember that you don’t always see the full picture, there could be reasons for some people seeming to be capable of doing more. They could have a behind the scenes team giving them a helping hand, outsourcing their work, maybe they learnt witchcraft or they could be exaggerating. Don’t dwell on what everyone else seems to be doing or achieving, focus on your efforts and whether you are truly doing as much as you could be without wearing yourself out.

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