How to turn busyness into productivity

You don’t need to look far if you want to find a busy person. Hard workers seem to have a knack for keeping busy.

People in all walks of life seem to be working longer hours these days and many are doing unpaid work after hours. It’s not healthy, it’s not productive and it can take a toll on home and family life.

What’s interesting though is that being busy seems to have very little to do with actual success. Often you need to look beyond someone who is busy to find someone who is successful.

So, what is a successful person? Well that depends entirely on their own definition of success. If a person has achieved a predetermined goal then I would consider that a success.

Most people keep themselves busy with tasks and dealines that others impose on them, rather than goals they have personally set. So, the problem is hard workers are burning themselves out to help other people achieve their goals.

How then do you manage to start work on the important things? First you need to set some goals and then you need to decide what’s actually important.

I always try to remember what is known as the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of what you do will be accountable for 20 percent of results. Therefore the important activities, aka the top 20 percent account for 80 percent of results.

I didn’t just make that up. That’s a theory called the Pareto Principle and there are countless books about it. It doesn’t just apply to your to do list. This theory has been applied to marketing, fitness, diet and even relationships.

Roughly speaking 1 in 5 of your daily tasks will be important. You will probably find most of the remaining tasks are somewhat trivial. You can still do them if you have the time and are inclined to do so, however, make sure you always do the most important tasks first.

Many people will read this and have trouble working out what’s actually important to them. Reviewing your personal goals and making sure the tasks you choose are closely aligned to those goals is a great start.

Try it now. Write down at least 5 tasks you need to complete. Force yourself to choose 1 from every 5 and make that a top priority.

If you hate what you do, find what you love

UniqueStrengthsDo you think you have a calling in life?

If you don’t like what you do for work than the chances are that’s not your calling. According to Deloitte, (as referenced in the following video) 80% of people dislike their work. So, is it possible to find work you love and make that your legacy?

Scott Dinsmore gives a TED talk and explores that very question with his audience. In this video, Scott tells you how he found what he enjoys and even shares some of Warren Buffet’s words of wisdom about choosing a career.


Define your work life balance

What is work life blanace?
What is work life balance?

What is your ideal work life balance?

How you can change your life to make it happen…

As someone who has helped countless clients, colleagues and friends set up home and mobile offices, I have been asked many times, “What is work life balance?” Most people have heard the term work life balance but most view it as a myth or believe the concept cannot apply to their own life. Their job is different. They’re too busy… too important. They’re a victim of their current set of circumstances.

What they should be asking me is, “What does the work life balance mean to you?” Have you ever heard the expression, no one ever died wishing they had spent more time at the office? I have and I believe that’s true. I also believe there are far busier people than me or you and they manage to make time for the things that matter.

Former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, used to walk every morning for exercise. I can’t image too many jobs being more demanding than that of a Prime Minister. Yet, he found time to exercise. Famous Entrepreneur Richard Branson has built a multi-million dollar empire; yet he has found the time for his wife and children, as well as the occasional kite surfing adventure.

I’m not saying it’s easy to find time for everything; however, it is possible to find time for the most important things. What most people fail to do is define those important things and plan accordingly. I suggest you write some sort of personal mission statement, so you can define those things you want to take priority in your own life. So what is work life balance? It’s a trick question and your answer will depend on your own values and beliefs.

Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself, so you can work out what you value the most in your life:

  • Who do you like spending your free time with? Your partner, your family or your friends?
  • What are your favourite hobbies and leisure activities?
  • What flexible options might be available in your current work role? How will this fit with your priorities?
  • Is there another job type or work arrangement that would be a better fit for your personal values and lifestyle?

Who do you like spending your free time with?

Who you like spending your time with might determine your most valuable leisure hours. Spending time with your children, for example, might require you to be home during the afternoon. At this time your children will be home from school and it will be before their bed time. In contrast, you might have a partner who you would like to meet for lunch. You might prefer to take a long lunch and work back late to cover it –if that’s an option in your workplace.

What are your favourite hobbies and leisure activities?

Working a day job might not be the best thing for you if your favourite pastime is to spend your day at the shops. You might prefer shift work or something similar if retail therapy is really what you love… but if you enjoy the night life, you might prefer to work the day and party the night away.

What flexible options might be available in your current work role?

Wait… don’t quit your job just yet. Today’s workplaces usually have a few options for how you work. You might prefer to work part time, work from home, use flexible hours or share a job with someone else. Ask your boss if there are other options before you burn all your bridges. You might be surprised at just how good new work arrangements can be for you.

Is there another job type or work arrangement that would be a better fit for your personal values and lifestyle?

Some jobs just will not be compatible with your personal values. I urge you to explore other options. Maybe the answer is to work for another company, change jobs, change careers, have a sea change or a tree change. The answer might be to take on shift work or even work for yourself as an entrepreneur.

Working out what you want is the very first step in lifestyle design. Building the life you want is only possible if you know what that is. I can’t tell you what your ideal life is because it will be different for every person. So the most critical step is to work out what you want to achieve in life and design your work around that.

I believe the biggest mistake people make is to make work their only priority year after year; believing that one day they will have time to live. That might be okay if you know when and how you are going to die but for the rest of us, we’re on borrowed time. The only way to make sure you ever have time for your family and the things that matter most is to make time for them here and now.