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Are you productive—or just busy?
We all know the feeling at the end of a busy day or a busy week: we’re tired, sure, but we also feel satisfied and, maybe, a little proud. After all, busy = productive, right?
Not so fast. Before you pat yourself on the back for all your busyness, take a closer look. Busy can mean a lot of things—a long to-do list, feelings of pressure and stress, a sense of chaos, and a lot of work. But it doesn’t necessarily signal true productivity.
Knowing the difference between busyness and productivity can make all the difference to your practice—and to your life beyond work.
Recently, I’ve been reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. It’s a terrific and important book that addresses many of the core obstacles that keep us from true productivity. Newport, an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, also talks about how we can turn away from busyness and toward work that’s concentrated, focused, and attentive to the complex tasks that deliver the most potent, abundant results.
So, what’s the difference between busyness and productivity? For overwhelmed practice owners, it can be tough to distinguish between the two. When you’re constantly besieged with work that feels like it demands your immediate attention, isn’t everything critical?
Well, yes and no. There’s no question that all the work needs to get done. The issue is whether you are the right person to be doing it. For practice owners, the busyness trap often involves keeping a constant hand in every aspect of daily operations, at the expense of putting their attention where it can be most productive, and deliver the most significant results.
In my work with practice owners, we work to differentiate between busyness and productivity by distinguishing between low-energy and high-energy activities.
Low-energy activities are ones that are don’t employ your skills and expertise. Often mundane, these activities comprise important and necessary work—but aren’t the best, highest use of your time. Common low-energy activities for practice owners?
- Answering the phone
- Scheduling patients
- Putting out fires within your team—which often involves answering the same questions again and again
We call these low-energy activities because that’s how they make you feel. This is work that’s taking your time and attention, but feels burdensome and frustrating.
High-energy activities require your individual and unique set of skills, intellect and perspective. But there’s more to high-energy activities than skill and intellect. These are the activities you are passionate about, that give you a strong sense of purpose and meaning. In short, they’re the activities that fire you up, that connect you deeply to the mission of your business. For most practice owners, these include:
- Building relationships, including cultivating referral partners
- Creating market campaigns for new and previous patients
- Developing effective systems and processes for your organization
- Streamlining team work, and mentoring your team
When you’re working productively, you feel it: your productive work are the activities that give you energy, rather than draining you of it.
This distinction between working hard and working smart is so important. When I work with practice owners, the first thing I start with is a serious, detailed look at how they’re using their time. There’s no other single factor that makes a bigger difference to how effectively you run your business—and how much time and energy you have left for your family and the rest of your life.
Because this topic is so critical to practice owners’ success, I’m going to stick with it for a few weeks, and talk in-depth about the challenges practice owners face in letting go of being busy, a step-by-step process for making that essential change, and the transformative benefits that true productivity can deliver.
If you’re ready to get Laser Focused to be less “busy” and more productive to generate more referrals and cash flow, schedule a Discovery Call today!