Here’s the best way I know how to describe it. It’s that feeling you get when you’re standing or sitting on the beach and the waves cover your feet and legs and then retreat back to the ocean. You feel like you’re moving but you’re actually standing still.
This phenomenon shows up in our lives whether you’re an entrepreneur, work in ministry or have a traditional 9-to-5. It’s called being busy and it’s totally overrated. Honestly, it’s the polar opposite of being productive.
We all get the same set of 24 hours every day; but how we invest them is truly up to us.
Like you, I wear lots of hats—wife, mom, business owner, volunteer and so on and there are certain activities that propel me and my family forward. Sales are important to business owners so tasks that increase sales are important. That would be productive work. Sorting three-hole punched paper so they’re all facing the same direction is busy work.
But sometimes we get caught up in the busy work and fail to do the work that matters.
Usually because the productive work is challenging. Or it may be the productive work forces us to look at truths we’d rather not face so we hide in the busyness of it all like sorting paper clips in our office drawer.
I was guilty of this and learned there’s no substitute for productive work. Busy work doesn’t pay and it certainly doesn’t get dinner on the table.
Here’s where getting organized and having a plan comes into play, but be careful because planning and creating strategy can become busy work if you never implement your plan.
Some tasks can seem daunting—like sorting receipts after you promised yourself you would create a system after the last tax season. But challenging tasks can be broken up into chunks. The old saying asks…How do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece. Meaning overwhelming tasks have to be broken down into manageable pieces. Otherwise it’s gonna be you trying to make room for that elephant in your home, your finances, your relationships…you get the picture.
When The Pay Isn’t In Legal Spendable Tender
I think we all have work that doesn’t have an immediate payoff or doesn’t pay in cash but still needs to be done. For me that’s blogging. Currently my blog isn’t one of those million-dollar-a-year sales machines. One day maybe…just not this day.
But blogging does a couple of things. First it keeps me connected to you and I love to hear how something I posted resonated with you, challenged you or encouraged you. That’s part of my purpose and it makes me happy. Second, it keeps me in Google’s good graces—they like fresh content so I try to oblige them. But to spend a full week writing blog posts would be busy work and not productive work. Since I’m an entrepreneur…sales are important. Just ask my husband and the mortgage company.
Productive work is getting out and meeting new people, speaking to other small business owners, reading, sending out pitches to the media, creating and implementing marketing campaigns; things that help generate sales warrant my time and attention. Not all of it mind you. There has to be work/life balance even for entrepreneurs. So even though there is some payoff for the time I spend blogging, it can’t be my first priority because it’s not a big revenue generator. I have a son who wants to go to TCU so yes, it’s about generating revenue!
So I ask you, are you being productive or just swallowed up in busy work?
#ThisWomanKnows busy work can leave you feeling unfulfilled…like you’re moving with the waves out to the ocean but you’re really just standing still.
I encourage you to do the work that matters; the work that propels you forward.
I know..it’s scary but you can do it.
Click here to purchase my new book, Put It Out There! and learn how to move from busy work to productive work.
Lisa N. Alexander is the author and founder of This Woman Knows and What Million-Dollar Brands Know. She is an award-winning filmmaker, director, producer, and writer and is the owner of PrettyWork Creative.