Why I Stopped Saying “Busy” and Started Saying “Productive”

From the Archives – originally published on: 01/17/2017

One of my transformation in the last year, really the last quarter of last year, was to stop saying that I was busy. My wife or someone else would ask me how my day was and my typical response was, “It was busy.”

It was true that I had a lot of work to do, but all my recent work has been goal driven and purposeful; I did not have much if any busy work.

bus·y·work
ˈbizēˌwərk
noun: busy-work
work that keeps a person busy but has little value in itself.

So what has been my response when challenged with these questions? It’s simple, really, I have been telling people that my day was “productive”. The word “Productive” is one of those powerful words in the English language. It has the benefit of, once in the habit of using it, reinforcing the goals of the person who is using it to describe his/her day.

pro·duc·tive
prəˈdəktiv
adjective: doing or achieving a lot: working hard and getting good results

Working without a goal is just work, there is no purpose other than to make money. It will ultimately be flat and sour no matter how much money one makes. Working with goals gives you the chance to see real-life accomplishments; to cross off items and projects from to do lists which acts as an extremely powerful motivator, stress reliever, and productivity reinforcer.

Some of the happiest people, career-wise, that I have seen have been in the field of construction. Why is that? Because construction is an inherently goal driven field. The construction company gets a contract and a set of plans to build a building. Tasks need to be completed during the construction phase such as a foundation being poured, framing, plumbing, electricity, etc. Each one of these tasks gets checked off giving the crew a sense of accomplishment. Once the building is complete, that project can be marked as completed; the goal has been achieved and the crew was productive.

The flip side of that coin are some office jobs that require the employee to do the same thing day in and day out, these are often temporary jobs. Doing the same thing day in and day out is just passing a widget back and forth. Sure you could mark the pass as complete, but there is another, exact same widget right around the corner.

So what am I mumbling on about here? Simply put, try to be productive, not busy.

That is my thought for the day.