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How to move from being busy to productive

I’m busy. This is probably your usual response when asked how you are or how things are going.

But the questions you need to constantly ask yourself are: “Are you too busy to lead?” and "How to be more productive at work?"

Being so caught up in fighting fires and managing daily issues can make it difficult for you to achieve your strategic objectives and take the business to the next level.

But being busy is now a normal part of your day-to-day routine. As a business leader, you wear many hats – from managing people and finances to marketing and business development. You’re busy attending meetings, building relationships, responding to emails and making operational decisions. On top of that, you also have your personal and family commitments to deal with.

In this post, we will explore ways being busy can negatively impact your business growth, and the things you can do to save time, keep focused on your goals, and how to be more productive at work.

What are the problems associated with being too busy?

You lose sight of the big picture

When you’re busy, you get so preoccupied with day-to-day operations that it’s hard to step back and see the big picture. The tendency is to focus on the smaller, seemingly more ‘urgent’ things.

Your day is then filled with accomplishing menial tasks and making tactical decisions rather than working on the bigger, more strategic projects, like streamlining processes or building your brand.

You also tend to forget the overall goal, your ‘why’ – the very reason you went into business. Your vision gets blurry. The risk is that you’ll fail to prioritise effectively, achieve your goals and move your business forward.

You become less productive

Being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive.

Have there been days when you’ve been working hard and going through an endless list of tasks, yet feel as if you’re not achieving anything? Are you really driving results when you feel stressed and pressured?

Busyness doesn’t always equate to getting more things done. In fact, you may become less productive when you’re busy.

Do you try to juggle too many things at the same time? Dealing with more than one thing at a time reduces productivity, takes a lot longer and greatly increases the likelihood of making mistakes. This is why multitasking is a myth.

Your brain is simply not capable of concentrating on more than one thing at a time. You end up losing focus - or worse, you're experiencing burnout; making you unable to lead and manage the business.

You ignore your staff and miss out on opportunities to lead

People are still your company’s greatest resource. And for your business to thrive, they need to be properly led, managed and developed.

But when you’re busy, you tend to ignore the people around you. You close your office door, cancel staff meetings, disregard internal emails and wear your ‘do not disturb’ cap – just so you can focus on the numerous tasks at hand.

This is because when you’re busy, you see people as distractions. You get so consumed in the daily workload that you miss out on opportunities to lead your team. Your busy day leaves no time to develop skills and nurture talent across the organisation.

This can lead to an unhealthy culture in the workplace. People will feel stressed, overworked, and unappreciated. Office morale and productivity will go down.

So, how do you move from being busy to productive?

How do you step back from the busyness of your daily job – and achieve bigger goals to drive business growth? Here are a few ways how to be more productive at work, even in those busy periods:

Take the time to think, strategise and refocus

This may require a change of mindset. The key is your willingness to change some of your unproductive work habits. You need to stop, unplug and step back to see the bigger picture. This will help you focus on priorities and start planning the next steps to build your business.

Set some time to think. We suggest blocking 30 minutes to an hour each day just to think about your business. Use this time to develop strategies, improve internal processes, train staff and create an innovative company culture.

Let technology help

Technologies continue to evolve, making our lives easier. So, use the new and emerging tools and apps to streamline your work, automate administrative tasks and better organise your day.

You can use tools like Basecamp, Asana or Trello to help plan your major projects, manage tasks and coordinate team responsibilities.

Google Docs> and Google Sheets allow you to create, edit and share documents and spreadsheets while on the go.

There are also applications like Dropbox or Google Drive that enable you to store files securely and access them online anytime, anywhere. Most of these tools are free to use or require a minimal monthly subscription.

But of course, there is no one-size-fits-all tool or application. You need to try and test them out. See what works best for you, your work style, and your business.

Delegate and outsource

This sounds obvious – but if you need help, ask for it. You don’t have to do everything yourself.

Start delegating more tasks to your team. This is the best way to develop their skills and train them for leadership roles in the future.

You can also hire outside contractors and experts to perform specific jobs across the business.

Think about it - being able to delegate and outsource gives you the time you need to focus on bigger and more important things.

For instance, you can consider using a Managed Print Services (MPS) provider to take care of your entire print and document operations – boosting productivity, reducing costs and enhancing security.

In conclusion…

Being busy can have a negative impact on your business growth. When you’re busy, you lose sight of your strategic business objectives, become less productive, and miss out on opportunities to lead your staff.

We’ve suggested a few things to show you how to be more productive at work. They aren’t quick fixes but require an ongoing commitment to change your work habits.

  • Start by taking the time to think and refocus.
  • Then, use the available tools and apps to manage your time, tasks and projects.
  • And remember to delegate and outsource so you can focus on the things that truly matter in your business and life.

Are business silos holding your organisation back from maximum agility and productivity? Download our Breaking Down Silos ebook to learn how to overcome collaboration challenges and accelerate business growth in your company today.