When I first started up as a consultant, it was very, very difficult for me to tell the difference between productive and active. I wasted so much of my time simply being active, seeming like I was getting further when in reality I was just running inside of a hamster wheel. It then became my goal to figure out how to effectively decipher the difference between productive and active.
What I found is that to be productive, you have to have an ultimate end-goal in sight. Once that is set, every action that you take must be leading you towards accomplishing that specific end-goal.
Active is doing something just for the sake of doing it. You’re not seeing any tangible results from you’re active, but feel like you’re working countless hours because “eventually the hard work will pay off.”
Personally, I’m not able to focus on one task for long periods of time, so I jump from task to task. Some may see this as counterproductive, but for me, it’s not. I have audited every activity in my life so that I can be absolutely certain that what I’m doing is, in one way or another, funneling me towards accomplishing that one specific end-goal.
So I started doing this one simple trick to audit myself throughout my day to make sure that what I was doing was moving me towards my ultimate goal and not simply running along that hamster wheel.
I created a series of reminders on my phone that pop up a few different times throughout the day. I ask myself one simple question.
Are you being productive, or just active?
That simple question has allowed me to completely cut busy work out of my life.
By auditing my activity, I can insure that I am always being productive in a world full of distractions.
Give this simple trick a try and watch how it changes the course of your workday is over the next few weeks.