There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. While it’s true that both are able to check items off of their to-do-lists, productive check off the right items. Instead of just doing things to get them done, productive people focus on the ways that are going to have to biggest impact in both their personal and professional lives.
So, are you busy? Or, are you productive? Here are 8 ways that you can find out:
1. Do you have a purpose?
Every productive individual sets goals so that they know exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing throughout the day. They have long term goals planned. And, they’re created short-term goals to support those long-term goals.
Having a purpose requires discipline to reach the goals that you’ve set. If you feel that you don’t have a purpose, start working on developing discipline by knowing your priorities, learning to say “no,” taking care of your health, getting out of your comfort zone and getting used to failures. They happen so learn to move through the failure.
2. Is there a system in place to support your goals?
As a business owner, your long-term goal is to build and maintain a successful. However, it takes a system to support and reach those goals. In this case, your system would include marketing, the sales process, operation and being able to meet deadlines.
As Miranda Marquit explained in a previous Due post, “While goals are definitely helpful when it comes to hitting benchmarks and acknowledging milestones, the reality is that they might not provide you with everything you need for long-term staying power. You might be surprised to discover that creating the right systems might help your business even more than goal-setting.”
In order to build the right system, Miranda suggests that you focus on performance measures and acknowledging your continued progress so that you can continue to move forward.
3. What’s your productive work time?
Just because you’re in the workplace from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. doesn’t mean that you’re productive because we all have productivity slumps throughout the day. The first place to look when determining your most productive work time is by answering, “Are you an early bird or a night owl?”
“If there’s a clear answer, then schedule your work hours based on this [if possible]. Regardless of starting time, always be sure to prioritize your tasks based on importance and/or deadline. If there’s a big, time-sensitive assignment on your to-do list, [work on it] when you have the most energy,” said Kelly Allder, vice president of HR programs at human capital management technology company Ceridian.
Once you’ve answered that question, you next want to determine what’s holding you back getting your work done, such not setting priorities, poor planning, distractions and waiting until the last minute to complete a task. Knowing this information will allow you to adjust your habits so that you can become more productive.
Finally, take note of your productivity peaks. Jot down in a notebook what you’ve accomplished during a workday so that you can identify patterns so that you can work around your most productive patterns. Personally, the Pomodoro Technique, where you break your day into half-hour segments, has done wonders for my productivity.
4. Are you indecisive?
Do you struggle when it comes to making decisions? If so, you may suffer from the dreaded indecisiveness.
Instead of making decisions and moving forward, you spend more time worrying whether or not you’re making the right decisions. Get out of your head and make decisions automatic by asking one simple question, “Will this help me reach my goal?” If it does, then proceed.
As Jonathan Fields is a serial-entrepreneur, business strategist, speaker and author, perfectly writes, “In the end, the only bad decision is indecision, because it leads to inaction. And without action, there’s no data. With no experience of life. No information to serve as fuel for evolution, connection, joy, progress. No growth. Just gray.”
5. Do you multitask?
Research has proven time and time again that multitasking doesn’t work. In fact, because you’re switching between various tasks, you may lose 40 percent of your productivity.
Instead of toggling between multiple tasks just to get them done, focus on doing thing at a time so that it’s done well and has all of your attention. Once that has been completed, you can move onto the next task.
6. How quickly do you ask for help?
Instead of waiting until it’s too late and now they’re back into a corner, productive ask for help immediately. For example, if I need 10 new blog posts for Due by the end of the week, I’m going to ask my team to crank them out as quickly as possible, as opposed to me scrambling to get them written and published myself. This not only keeps me productive, it also shows that I trust and respect my team enough that they’ll deliver quality blog posts when I need them.
7. Have you used productivity measures?
“Productivity measures are a series of inputs calculated against a series of outputs,” writes Sue-Lynn Carty for Chron.com. “Using productivity measures for can help you determine how to maximize the use of your company’s resources.”
- Overall sales and productivity. Divide your net sales by the number of employees that you have. “For example, if your net sales are $10,000 and you have 10 employees, than $10,000/10=$1,000. This means your sales need to increase by $1,000 to justify the cost hiring one new staff member.”
- Individual employee sales productivity. Here you would take an individual’s net sales and divide it by the number of hours they worked.
- Employee labor productivity. “If you manufacture a product to sell, you can measure the productivity of the entire plant dividing number of products manufactured by the total number of hours worked for a specific period.”
- Individual employee labor productivity. Here you would take “employee labor hours divided by number of products produced by that employee during a given time period.”
8. Do you track your time?
Tracking your time can boost your productivity since it can help you determine all of the activities that you waste your time. You can start by tracking all of your activities for two weeks. As you review this information you may realize that you spend too much time watching TV, responding to emails or updating your social channels. If so, then you can start working on ways to eliminate those time-wasters.
I would also suggest using time tracking software in order to gain insights that you may have overlooked. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of powerful and innovative time tracking companies that can be used to help you boost your productivity.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.