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How You Can Profit From N.O.T. Being Busy

One of my clients was panicking yesterday.

I had just asked her if she was being productive with her time.

She paused and said,  “Sue, I’m REALLY busy - answering a zillion emails, reading newsletters and blog posts online, doing SEO for old blog posts, posting on social media, keeping up with my online friends...I don’t have any more time available. How am I ever going to be able to make money blogging when I don’t have any time left?”

How many times have you felt the same way?

I get it. It’s not your fault. You feel like you don’t have any time to spare and you have so much on your plate that it NEVER gets finished.

I’ve felt the exact same way. Just this past Monday, I was knee-deep in it. By 1pm, I had at least 54 emails to answer and this blog post to write.

But I hadn’t worked on anything that would bring in money that day. I didn’t write an email, I had no strategy sessions booked that day, I didn’t network with any other bloggers - I wasn’t doing anything that I teach my clients to do!

I worked 7 hours Monday. If you had watched me all day, I looked very busy. I don’t even think I took a break that afternoon.

But I felt crummy at the end of the day - what had I really accomplished?

Was I being productive...

Or was I just engaged in busy work?

Busy work is often disguised as productive work, but it doesn’t generate a money-making or vital outcome. And, like eating junk food, it feels good for a bit and it doesn’t give you the satisfied feeling of eating a real meal.

Learning the difference between busy work and productive work can be the ticket to help you make progress each day in your blogging business.

Here are some examples of busy work:

  • Reading non-essential emails and newsletters
  • Browsing through Facebook or other social media
  • Printing material to “read later”
  • Moving materials from one place to another in your office
  • Answering the phone every time it rings
  • Allowing others to interrupt you - no matter what they need

In contrast, productive work directly affects sales, growth, or other targets you have set.  

Here are some examples of productive work:

  • Writing and sending an email with an offer for your tribe
  • Setting up a new sales page
  • Developing a new program or service and taking steps towards launch
  • Setting up sales calls with interested clients
  • Creating new content for a membership site

These more productive activities generate leads and eventually, more income. Like Rebecca from Surveyclarity, who is helping people make money via surveys. The more productive she is, the more she makes.

So, what you need right now is a better way to run your day.

In other words, you need a system that works! Something that lets you push forward on your long-term goals and not just get done what’s “urgent” today.

Yeah, it requires clarity, focus, and some strategic thinking. But it’s worth it. You’ll know you are working towards your larger plan each and every week.

Let’s look at some tips for making this all work:

Tip 1. Plan your day the day before. Begin your to-do list for tomorrow, today, so you are ahead of the game.

I’m reading a great book called "Do It Tomorrow” by Mark Forster. He’s a big believer in planning out tomorrow. Here’s an app that keeps you focused on just today and tomorrow called Tomorrow.do.

Tip 2. Jot everything down with abandon, and then revise. Don’t worry about an item’s worthiness to be on the list. Jot it down and decide at the end of the day if it should stay.

Tip 3. Put your list in order. And try to tackle the toughest items on your list first.  Usually, you have the most energy in the morning. Doing the hardest items right out of the gate can help your stress and inspire you with your accomplishments.

If you happen to be a night owl, reverse the order and tackle the tough stuff when you have the most natural energy.

Tip 4. Cross off your items as you go. There is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes from crossing items off a list. B.J. Fogg from Tiny Habits says you should praise yourself every time you get something done. So, give yourself a high-five and an at-a-boy for getting things marked off.

Tip 5. Use an app like the Pomodoro Timer to keep you off of Facebook and keep you focused on what’s important. Using this technique is one of the first things I teach new clients.

Tip 6. Having a schedule can actually free time up, but one essential way to be productive is make sure you recharge, even for a few minutes, every half hour or so, during your day by taking a break.

Tip 6. Clean up your workspace at the end of each day so it is totally ready for tomorrow.

Tip 7.  Set your work hours and stick to them. Even more importantly, stop working at a certain time each day and stick to it. That was a big lesson I learned during my first year of blogging when I was working day and night on my business.

Tip 8. Keep an hour open each day for learning your craft. Whether this is through formalized training, reading, watching, listening or doing, consistent and constant learning is the element that sets others apart from the crowd.

Tip 9. Focus on just one thing at a time. Multitasking (although I used to love it) just doesn’t work with our human brains. Devote some time to doing just one thing and one thing only and see how much more you get done.  

Tip 10. Ending the day with a specific bedtime and starting your day with having had enough sleep is a perfect way to have the energy and stamina to make the most of your day. I know that I stay energized by making sleep a priority.

So, Monday wasn’t my best day. That’s ok. Tomorrow is a new day and each day that you give your best and avoid just being busy, you have done all that you can.

Busy work is often disguised as productive work, but it doesn’t generate a money-making or vital outcome. And, like eating junk food, it feels good for a bit and it doesn’t give you the satisfied feeling of eating a real meal.

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40 comments on “How You Can Profit From N.O.T. Being Busy”

  1. Loving these tips Sue! Folks tend to engage in busy work; bloggers are no exception. I worked for years and struggled. I did the wrong things with low energies, at that. Now I create and connect from a generous, kinda detached, space. Productive, effective and expanding my reach while having a blast.

    Ryan

  2. Thanks, Sue, for another informative post. I also believe in planning for tomorrow. I think the name of the book you have shared is worth to read. You are right, sometimes, we spend time on worthless things rather focus on important tasks. You gave a great tip to do hard item first. Yes, we have good energy at the beginning of the day and we should first utilize it in on hard and important task.

  3. I love this post! I've seen it said that being busy can actually be a form of laziness- i.e. purposefully filling your day with activity that isn't what you actually need to be doing. It's easy to do the things you want to do, but often the things you need to do are far more important, just less enjoyable. And therefore easier to put off! It's why I'm such a big believer in your tip about starting the day with your hardest/dullest task! Thanks again for such a useful post 🙂

  4. It is not difficult to go for productive work and reducing work that is not important. It is just a trick, if one gets that trick then one can easily do a lot of productive work and benefit from it.

  5. Hello Sue,

    Awesome and very informative post. I started blogging as my full-time job when I completed my Graduation. I prefer to work in a scheduled way. Its keeps me organized and productive too. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips.

    Have a Great Day 🙂

    Vishwajeet

  6. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! This is my first comment here, so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your articles. Your blog provided us useful information. You have done an outstanding job.

  7. Thanks for the tips. I'm a big fan of the Pomodoro technique. I find I work best with a short concentrated block of effort.

    Another thing that has helped me is mapping out tasks on a grid of Urgent vs Important. Not urgent and not important get dropped. Urgent/important tasks get top focus. Important tasks that are not urgent are scheduled to make sure they get addressed.

  8. Hi Sue,

    First comment here... this is a great post and I enjoyed reading it.

    I agree that we often do things that we think are useful but they are really distractions from the tasks that will move the needle.

    Jon Acuff wrote a book called Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done and in it he describes these tasks as 'hiding places'.

    From his book:

    "A hiding place is an activity you focus on instead of your goal."

    In my words:

    "Instead of making progress on something that’s important, you do a great job on something that isn’t."

    Hope this is interesting to other readers. Cheers for a great post!

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