Is it me or does everyone appear busier than they’ve ever been? People take pride in being “busy”. We glorify being busy. It’s a badge of honor in our society. I guess the perception is that if you’re busy, you’re important.

I know plenty of people who are always “super busy” on the hamster wheel of life but they complain about not making progress. This leads me to ask, “What exactly is everybody so busy doing?” In fact, I met a guy once who said “I don’t own a TV because I’m busy doing more important things.” I was impressed. I expected him to say that he was reading the classics or volunteering or spending time with his aging grandparents. When I asked about those important things, he said something to the extent of “You know … just stuff … chilling”.

Yes, I get it. People have families, friends, careers, hobbies, goals, and aspirations. Are we intentionally and strategically doing things that support those life goals? Or are we just doing “stuff”? That’s the difference between being busy and being productive.

I am not an expert in time management or productivity. Every night, I fight with my inner night owl to get to sleep at a reasonable hour and it is still a challenge to get up early for my morning ritual, which is critical for my self-care. But one thing I know is that I’d rather be productive than busy.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind on the path to productivity:

Decide What Your Priorities Are – Decide what areas of your life are most important to you and try to focus on tasks that will support those things. Check out my blog post, Discovering What’s “Real and Meaningful”: 3 Ways To Reconnect with Your Purpose & Passion

Just Say NO – Be selective about how you spend your time. You don’t have to accept every invitation or feel obliged to do everything for everyone. Ask yourself if it’s something that’s going to add value or contribute to what’s important to you. If not, a polite and respectful, “no, thank you” will give you more freedom than begrudgingly doing something that takes you away from your priorities.

Delegate  – I started using “Amazon Fresh” a few months ago and it changed my life. No longer do my husband and I spend hours at the grocery store, only to come home and find a bunch of impulsive purchases (not to mention the frustration of carrying heavy bags of groceries). If possible, delegate some tasks. One of my girlfriends has a maid service that comes to her home once a month to deep clean. That’s 3-4 hours that she uses to write her book. Take some “stuff” off your plate so that you can focus on being more productive.

Instead of glorifying the notion of being busy, let’s make our time count by working towards initiatives that are important to us. Things, like enriching our relationships, learning and personal development, taking special care of our health and wellness, volunteering for a great cause, or building a fabulous career, are real and meaningful.

How much more full and vibrant would our lives be if we glorified being productive? After all, the hamster on the wheel is busy. But at the end of his little hamster life, what does he have to show for it?