How to avoid being busy but unproductive at work

This article is more than 12 months old

Most of us work long hours.

But are you really being productive or are you just keeping yourself busy?

Everyone knows that employees are required to be gainfully employed.

Unfortunately, we often emphasise on the appearance of looking busy at work, rather than the actual output.

Keeping yourself busy at the office doesn't always equate to being productive.

You might be swamped by some duties and feel exhausted, but at the end of the day, your own tasks might still be unaccomplished.

A backlog ensues and a vicious circle is formed.

On the other hand, when you are strategically productive, you should be able to complete most, if not all of your tasks for the day, without feeling drained.

With some planning, you might even be able to catch a short break.

Here are some differences between being productive and being just busy at work, and strategies you can adopt to increase your output.

Productive people put only some items on their to-do lists, while busy people have long to-do lists

One clear indicator of productivity is having clear goals.

Jumping from one task to another without clear direction might make you look busy, but is unlikely to be productive.

So it is important for you to begin the day by determining the goals and tasks that should be completed by the end of the day.

Prioritisation of tasks, based on urgency and importance, will help you to be productive.

Performing single tasks tends to lead to higher productivity, but multi-tasking might not have the same outcome

Multi-tasking might lead to a lack of focus and inconsistency in work quality.

Constantly switching from one task to another might also drain you of energy.

Manage your tasks one by one and set a time duration to finish each of them.

By avoiding multi-tasking, duties are done optimally.

If you manage the time well, work-life balance might also be achievable.

Productive people say yes strategically, while busy people say yes to everything

Saying yes to every extra task that lands on your plate might impress your employers.

But you aren't doing yourself any favours if you say so without some bargaining over the deadline, time required, urgency and people involved.

You will be busy at work, but your main tasks and duties will suffer.

So don't feel obliged to every extra task, especially if it is not within your job scope.

Instead, take some time to measure your capabilities and focus on your priorities first.

Take on additional roles only after that.

This article was contributed by Talentvis Singapore Pte Ltd (