Google shows about 32,600,000 results for “looking busy”.

Decide, design, make arrangements.

Planning is oh so familiar to every one of us who shares a life of career, family and friends. I am sure your agenda is somewhere in reach as you read this. You need it because successful planning is critical. But are you a productive person or are you just keeping busy for the sake of it? Results, actions and follow-ups deconstruct a possible outcome and project it in a simple, realistic way – “If I do this and that, I will eventually achieve that and the other”. Right? Maybe.

A couple of years ago I used to work with this colleague who, nevertheless a great person, would be the embodiment of procrastination (the act of constantly delaying important task for more pleasurable ones, up until the last moment). Which got me thinking about the image a lot of people give themselves as being busy-bees. But you never actually see them achieve much even though all the tools of the eternal plannerare there: notes, agendas, phone apps, post-its, reminders and so on. When the deadline hits, they’re not on schedule and they’re in shock. Although we might feel busy are we actually productive?

Productivity comes from working on one task at a time. This method is more effective than a full list of to-do’s that eventually lead to half-done task. Sure we’re inclined to multitask as there are so many points to cross off our list. But trust me in the end it doesn’t pay-off. More-so, your IQ drops on an average of 10 points while multitasking. Focus on the here and now, one task at a time. 

Solve problems without opening the door for more trouble. You’re not going to save the world in one day by taking on more than you can handle. Learn to say no. Switching from one task to the other does not work. As impressive as it might be to be the go-to person for taking off the burden of approving those contracts, you might find yourself with a mountain of never-ending tasks in no time. And you won’t solve any.

Less talky, more result-y. Maybe it comes down to traits of personality but for some talking about climbing the Everest is the same thing as actually doing it. They believe their own lies. Production on the other hand comes from showing up with clear results and feasible outcomes.

Productive people make a change in their schedule and prioritize. They’re effective beyond schedules because they work in intervals of 60-90 minutes. Your brain needs its glucose so take that break when you need it. Get some fresh air, a healthy bite and get back on the saddle.

There’s no motivation, only discipline. We assume that we need a certain mental or emotional state in order to complete a requirement of us. Try to get a different perspective on motivation: discipline will carry you even after you’ve lost motivation.

Eventually it all comes down to just doing whatever it is that you should to be doing right now instead of reading this article. Slogans, viral motivational videos, catchy songs and t-shirt prints all point to the same logic. Stop browsing, scratching, getting coffee, yawning, adjusting your chair, turn off your notifications and turn on your focus. Because one thing is certain: productivity is its own reward.