7 Ways to be More Productive and Less Busy

By Dr. Kurt Smith

October 15, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

It can be hard to see the difference between being productive and just staying busy. But there is a difference – a big difference.

It’s possible to be busy all day long and at the end of the day feel like you haven’t accomplished much. We all know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by all the things in our lives that pull us in different directions. Yet it’s important in life to feel like we are getting somewhere, not just treading water.

So here are 7 ways to stop being just busy and start being more productive!

1) Get up and go to bed at the same time every day.

A regular sleep routine helps us sleep better, and getting rest is one of the most important things we can do for our physical and mental health. Having a routine in the morning and at night is also important. It can be as simple as enjoying your morning coffee in silence or having breakfast with your kids. In the evening, meditating for 15 minutes or reading a chapter from a book can do wonders to relax our minds before going to sleep. Keep in mind that research has shown that it’s important to disconnect from electronics at least an hour before bedtime.

2) Arrive at work a few minutes early.

Use that time to plan out your day and organize your workspace. Having the things you’re going to need ready for you can really help save time throughout the day. Review your deadlines and progress on projects, then make a to do list for the day, and determine at what times you’ll check email or other small tasks so they won’t eat up too much time. If you don’t work in an office, you should still take a few minutes to write out a to do list for the day. This will help you have a clear vision of your day and make it easier to stay on track.

3) Try to get a few small or easy tasks out of the way first thing in the morning.

By completing some small things first thing, you’ll have already accomplished some of your to do’s for the day, as well as freed up time to really make progress on the bigger things. It also feels good and is motivating to see that you’re being productive and making progress.

4) For longer tasks, be sure to take short breaks about every 45 minutes or so.

Set a timer with your cell phone to remind you, if necessary. Taking breaks is actually something we all should be doing all day long. Sitting for long periods of time is not healthy for our bodies, and actually can hinder productivity. Walk around a bit and stretch your legs. Then when you return to the task at hand, you’ll be able to concentrate better.

5) Get outside.

Spending some time outdoors can do wonders to clear our minds, energize and refocus us. If possible, take a walk outside at lunchtime or for a break in the afternoon. If you can’t get out during the day, a walk in the evening can really help our minds and bodies relax. Overall, though, spending time outside doing things we enjoy at any time is rejuvenating, which translates into sharper focus and more productivity.

6) Make three or four clear priorities for yourself each day.

If you have too many priorities, you’ll be really busy, but probably not that successful. In order to be productive we have to prioritize, make time for, and concentrate on the most important things in life to us. Saying, “yes,” to every opportunity that comes our way is a recipe for not being very productive. So before saying “yes,” make sure it fits your priorities.

7) At the end of the day on Friday, take a few minutes to plan for Monday.

This way you’ll be free to fully enjoy your weekend, concentrating on the things and people who bring you happiness, rather than thinking about dreaded Monday. And come Monday you’ll be ready to be productive right from the start.

These take a bit of planning, but they’ll become a habit for you in no time. With a little effort you can accomplish so much more, while being less hurried and busy, and yet still have time for what matters the most to you!

Dr. Kurt Smith

Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their relationships better.

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