Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. – Leo Babauta
Travel and Being Busy
Back to the days when I first started travelling in 2012. I was adventuring New Zealand in a campervan and I was desperate to see and do everything imaginable.
I set out a military schedule and planned out my day to the hour.
Whether it was a walk, visiting a museum, climbing a mountain, I wanted to do it all and squeeze the life out of my time there.
I thought that being busy was productive and led to enjoyment.
But I was never satisfied because there was always something else I could do.
It wore me out and i started to rethink my definition of productivity.
Western Society and Being Busy
We live in a society that prides itself on being busy.
We clock in earlier, bust a gut and work harder and longer at the expense of neglecting our closest relationships.
And why? Because we’re sold the notion that being busy and spending more time equals results.
We convince ourselves that there isn’t enough time. But no, time isn’t scarce, we are scarce.
Which brings me to my question: Is being busy being productive?
Being Busy vs. Productive
Being busy is not the same as being productive.
Being busy is a mindset focused on scarcity. Being productive is a mindset focused on abundance.
Being busy means stress, overdrive and sleepless nights. Being productive insinuates calmness, clarity and focus.
Being busy favours quantity and the notion that more is better. Being productive favours quality and the notion that less is more.
Being busy focuses on time and results. Being productive focuses on priorities, strategy and vision.
So it’s clear that being busy is a fad. Let’s explore ways in which we can become more effective and productive.
Ideas For Becoming More Productive
I was tired of being busy so decided to shake a few things up. Some things have worked, some have not, but i want to share a few ideas with you from my own journey:
1 – Set Your Priorities – Productive people make time for what’s important. They have a well-defined mission and have set clear goals. Productive people won’t just jump into a task blind, they set priorities. It’s useful to use a system, and one that works for me is as follows. Each night, before bed, create a to-do-list with the 3 most important tasks for the next day. Then when you wake, start working on the hardest task first, and only move on to the second task when you’ve completed the first. By choosing just 3 tasks, you won’t overwhelm yourself with work. Secondly, you’ll use the most will power and focus on the first task. And finally, it eliminates the potential for multi-tasking. A big no no. I’ve used this technique for sometime and it works for me. Give it a try.
2 – Say No Strategically – Part of the predicament of being busy comes with saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way. And as we know, there’s always going to be repercussions from taking on too many commitments. Being productive requires clever sacrifices to be made. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t take you closer your goals. Always have your vision in mind, and if a task pops up that doesn’t align with it, just say no. In doing so, you’ll create much more slack for the things that matter, also giving yourself a breather for more important things in life like friends and passions.
3 – Don’t Multitask – It is scientifically proven that human beings are less efficient when we try to multitask. Focus is power; so instead of dividing your attention amongst different things, tackle each of your tasks one by one. Don’t move on from a task until it is done. No more needs to be said on that.
4 – Monitor How You Spend Your Day – For the next two weeks, record exactly how you are spending each hour of your day. If you want to be even more specific, drop it down to recording your time by the minute. Then, after 2 weeks, sit down and evaluate how you spend your time. Patterns will emerge and it will become which tasks (e.g. social media, youtube) are eating your time. Again, prioritise the things that are important to you and eliminate the rest.
We live on average about 27,375 days. That’s about 657,000 hours on this beautiful planet. That might seem a lot of time at first glance, but it’s really not.
We only get one shot at life, so it’s important that we use our time wisely on the things that take us closer to our vision, while also finding time for family, friends and passions.
So next time you contemplate starting a new task, ask yourself “Am I being busy or productive?”
Thanks for reading!
All the best,
Daniel Beaumont, 10th September 2016
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
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