Productivity v/s Being Busy

Time is a very precious commodity at any stage in a business and in any business. The way an Entrepreneur chooses to use his time in the business and the way he guides his workforce in doing so, decides the success of the business. While we are fortunate to live in an age of technology that enables us to work efficiently and effectively, it also tends to distract us from doing important work.

Laptops and smartphones enable one to carry our work anywhere, hence ensuring we can maintain our productivity even if we are not in office or on desk, and it can also enable one to simply look busy in office or out of office by just being glued to it and doing other unimportant tasks. Easy access to the internet can help one being productive at all times and it can also make one look busy but not productive, as it is easy to get lost in the non-stop news feeds and the related browsing there on.

Over the years in different businesses and different roles, I have come across a number of instances that clearly define those that are productive and then those that are merely being busy. In a corporate setting I still wonder what those internal meetings actually mean, endless discussions formal or informal, just equates to having been busy for that long on that particular day, with a rarity of some productive result someday, if at all. I experienced this very briefly in my career as I was in a rough patch after my first business did not succeed. And this corporate experience was brief as I saw the opportunity to better work and better earnings with joining back my family business.

What interests me more is that there is no relation of productivity with only being formally, academically qualified and being part of the white-collar work force. I found a majority of them in the white-collar roles just punching in the time day in and day out. And I remember the blue-collar workers who also use to punch in time in the factories, but they were far more productive as their was lot of physical work involved and moreover they were always enthusiastic to help more, by staying back until midnight to ensure the material is finished, packed and shipped. Formal education and training does not mean that one is productive, one can just appear to be busy. And on the other hand with little education and training one can still be super productive on all days.

While I pity those who pretend to be busy and equate that to productivity, there are also possibilities that one may need to be busy for days, in order to make a productive outcome. A personal experience which I have highlighted in one of the earlier blog posts, comes to my mind. I was travelling for procurement, and was stationed in a particular centre, which turned into a few days of being busy witnessing the markets from morning to close every single day, and no purchases made for five consecutive days, but the productivity part played out on the sixth day in the second half when most of the buyers were out of the scene and I had a lot of commodity to choose from and at much lower prices, resulting in higher profit margins.

Also certain business operations may not be productive in terms of adding to the bottom line, but those operations will still demand the attention of an Entrepreneur or Business owner. For example, maintaining books of accounts, generating financial statements etc… keeps one busy, but are not directly productive to the business. These activities keep one busy and are important to understand the financials in the business. The first half of my day is super productive as I am all running around, talking to customers, prospects and making sales. The second half keeps me busy with the accounting for the day.

A lot of administrative work is also about keeping oneself busy, which some stick to all day and days. To me most times this is where I like to procrastinate. But its not possible, and often the other party does get demanding regarding certain administrative stuff, an objection, or a query which I handle simply by showing the actual productivity in the business, that’s in terms of revenue for the said period, and justifying the right use of time towards that activity than spending it on administrative stuff.

In conclusion, Productivity is simple, being busy is complicated. Productivity produces a direct visible result. Being busy does not lead to a direct visible result, at least not immediately, and hence one will be expected to reason out, which can get complicated. Be productive and if you are being busy then be busy to be productive.

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