Activity is Not Productivity
Every day I’m told several times how busy someone is. I’ve gone through an evolution in how I choose to receive that information. First, I was empathetic. I’d take a moment to sincerely acknowledge the person’s current state. After a while, I adopted the eye-roll, listening and then moving on. Next, I allowed this seemingly inevitable portion of every conversation to annoy me. (Internally, of course.) I’d hang up and make some wisecrack about how so-and-so is whining about how busy they are. My next phase was to one-up them. My response would be something like, “Man, I hear you. As a business owner, I work 11-12 hours most days and can’t remember when I took a whole weekend off.” That was fun, true, and shut them up really quick.
Now, I’ve entered the phase of ambivalence. I simply don’t care. You’re busy; I’m busy; we’re all busy. Are you busier than me? I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t care. Nothing is accomplished by whining about it or obsessing over it. I’m about getting stuff done.
It’s interesting that, on these calls, no one ever tells me all the things they’ve got done. I’m never on a call where someone says, “Man, I am killing it today. I closed three deals, found two new clients and ran three miles this morning.” They’d rather brag about busyness.
Busyness is rooted in activity. Activity and productivity are not the same. As a leader, I’m focused on productivity. What did you get DONE? If you’ve been extremely busy all day and haven’t produced something of tangible value, it’s time to examine things. It’s pointless to climb a ladder that’s leaning against the wrong wall.
Have a specific goal. Develop a strategy to get there. Create a tactical plan. Execute. Then, the next time we’re on the phone, don’t tell me how busy you are. Tell me what you’ve done.