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How To Stop Being Busy And Start Being Productive

In today’s society, being busy is an achievement and an aspiration. Society respects and admires people supposedly having and juggling it all. When you then compare your ability and results to what you see in others, you can struggle to see your success. Instead, you may feel inadequate and dissatisfied that you should be doing more. You can often feel guilty for not accomplishing everything you want to.

However, building a career, business or family and making time for relationships, a social life, studying, and hobbies can lead you to spread yourself too thinly. You end up losing focus on what’s important. Ultimately, you end up becoming someone who does, rather than someone who is. When you are always on the go, you can lose sight of who you are and what matters to you.

The focus on being busy is hard to steer away from. It is easy to think that you should be doing more or you need to be a better person so that you can accomplish everything you want to. However, you don’t have to master being busy to achieve it all. Instead, you need to focus on how to stop being busy and how to start being productive.

Change the mindset

Change your mindset to focus on what the task achieves rather than just the fact you get to tick it off. For example, don’t think about ticking grocery shopping off your list of things to do. Instead, think about the rewarding outcome of preparing a delicious, enjoyable meal and perhaps sharing it with friends or a loved one.


The secret to productivity isn’t finding more hours in your day but instead choosing the right things to do and doing them well. To be productive, you need space, time and silence. This gives you the headspace to think about the task and what you need to do it well.

Being productive brings much more satisfaction than being busy. So start to focus on the essentials and be mindful about what you do. Start by eliminating all of the things on your to-do list which is unnecessary, then start to look at removing the tasks that don’t make you happy, or don’t help you to fulfil a goal.

Yes, it can be difficult to say no to people, but eventually, once that weight is lifted and the task removed, it is another thing you can stop feeling guilty about. People who care about you will want to see you happier and without stress, so will understand why you are saying no. What’s more, for people that don’t care about your wellbeing, you shouldn’t feel guilty about saying no to them!

If you do say yes to another responsibility, think twice about it. Remember, you are allowed to change your mind.

Make some space

To stop being busy and start being productive, you need space. Start by purposefully leaving empty spaces in your calendar and make sure you don’t end up encroaching into this time. To be at your best, you need to dedicate time to yourself. It can be helpful to schedule regular pause breaks throughout the day, to give you time to reflect on what you’ve done and to gear up for what you are about to do.

It is helpful to regularly reassess how you use your time. Ask yourself questions such as;

What do I want?

  • Is what I’m doing helping me to achieve my goal?

  • What gets me out of bed in the morning, and what gives me energy?

  • What brings me joy and happiness?

  • Is there anything I have to do?

  • What do I love doing?

It may also help if you impose some boundaries to help give you time and assess your priorities. These rules may be;

  • Switching your phone off in the evening

  • Not working at weekends

  • Dedicate an evening or afternoon of ‘me-time’ a week

  • Limiting screen time on holidays and weekends

  • Dedicate time to goal-setting and reflection.

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