Three Differences Between Busyness and Productivity

There is a mammoth difference between teams and leaders who run around being busy and those that are truly productive. Busyness can give the allusion of productivity as people are doing things, as meetings are happening, and as emails are being sent and read. But not all busyness is valuable. In fact, busyness can mask a lack of productivity.

Here are 3 ways leaders can spot the difference between busyness and productivity:

1. Chaotic urgency versus focused urgency

From a distance, urgency looks like urgency. But up close, some urgency is chaotic and some is focused. Chaotic urgency is the result of people executing feverishly, even mindlessly, against a plethora of things. Focused urgency is the result of people executing against clear direction and goals. Chaotic urgency is exhausting. Focused urgency is invigorating.

2. Just work versus clear goals

When people are “just busy” they are “just doing work.” They knock out tasks, which may or may not be important, and stay busy. After all, staying busy can justify one’s job. When productivity is valued the most important work is prioritized. People don’t want to only work, they want to work on what is most important and on what most contributes to the mission.

3. Stagnation versus progression

Perhaps the most objective way to discern if people are merely busy is to check for progress. If the same problems keep arising, if the same struggles continue to emerge, then people are likely just busy. Productivity in the right things will inevitably lead to progress.

Leaders must not settle for busyness in their lives or in the work of those they lead. Though busyness can artificially look like productivity, mere busyness will crush a team over the long haul.