It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)
U.S. writer and Philosopher.
In our dotcom, instant coffee, click and get, over-night delivery world today, a costly assumption we can make, is to confuse Activity with Productivity.
Increase in Activity is NOT directly proportional to increase productivity. While you need to be active to get things going, also be sure you are not just as busy as ant with even less work done.
There a lot of individuals and companies that are involved in a hustle and bustle seemingly trying to get ahead but on critical examination, you discover they are actually extremely busy running a merry go round, trapped in a seemingly unending cycle of Activity.
The Activity trap will limit you from achieving your goals and will cause your dreams never to materialize.
There are dreams and plans and great things you have always wanted to do but have never done. You want to write great books and deliver powerful inspiring speeches. You want to learn a new musical instrument. You want to travel to some places or you want to start up an organization that will make an impact in your world. It could just be that you want to learn a new skill or a new language. Whatever it is, you will not be free to do until you break out of the activity trap.
Many individuals have had dreams of Financial Freedom and have had dreams of starting their own Business online or even offline but the greatest activity trap of all which an 8 to 5 Job, limits them from starting off their dream enterprise. They wake up each morning and rush off to a Work (Activity) they may not even like, only to return exhausted in the evening with just enough time to prepare for the next day’s labor. This way they go from the morning of their life through the afternoon and finally to their old age (night) filled with regrets and unrealized dreams.
Considering our limited time and resources, we must make each moment count and each action work towards a preset goal.
There are some simple steps I recommend for every Individual and organization to break out of Activity and move on to greater productivity.
1) Set Goals:
A goal guides you on your journey and helps you focus on what you want to achieve, where you are going to. If you have no definite goals and a clear understanding of where you are heading for, then you are going nowhere and more often than not, you will generally get there. Set definite goals today!
It is not enough to sit down at the beginning of every year to make great goals on what great things you want to achieve. There must be an objective evaluation mechanism you can use to check yourself to be sure you are right on track and not just rotating in an activity trap.
Don’t always be in the unproductive rush typical of the 21st Century Business Executive. Remember “More haste, less speed”. Stop and evaluate your daily, weekly and even monthly activities. Find out which of them takes more time and produces less result. You can use a jotter or note pad to list and evaluate your activities. I dare you to do this today. You will be shocked at the amount of time you lose to irrelevant things and your need to reallocate your greatest asset properly- which is your time.
We hear it so often yet we do it so little. You need to prioritize your business. There must be a way you can organize your activities into a Scale of preference. Make a daily To- do – list (TDL). List out all the activities you need to engage in for the day, in order of priority. Focus on the expected outcomes of these activities as a criteria for deciding what tops the list. Activities that will yield the best outcome and maximum results should come first. I usually prefer to do the hardest tasks for the day first. You could also set up your daily TDL that way. Start your day from the top of the list. If the day comes to an end or you run out of time while you are yet to get to the bottom of the list, it is ok. You would have done the most important ones. You can take a rest. The heavens will not fall if you don’t finish all the activities in your list. You can start again the next day.
4) Beware of the Insensible Time Loss:
Medical science teaches us of “insensible water loss”. The Medical Dictionary on Freedictionary.com defines insensible loss (insensible water loss) as the amount of fluid lost on a daily basis from the lungs, skin, and respiratory tract, as well as water excreted in the feces; the exact amount cannot be measured, but it is estimated to be between 40 cc and 600 cc in an adult under normal circumstances. The most interesting aspect of insensible water loss is that we almost don’t feel it!. I equally observed that there is an insensible time loss. I have been there. You might just lazy about or you are seemingly engaged in a routine activity and time flies by. You don’t seem to notice it but your time is evaporating gradually. This often happens when you don’t have a to do list and clear goals for the day. Watch out for Insensible Time Loss.
Most Entrepreneurs are rugged people who built their businesses from the scratch. They have become very self-reliant and used to doing it all on their own. The same Solo Mentality that will be of great use to an entrepreneur starting out as a self-employed, could be the single most powerful inhibiting factor that will prevent them from successfully building their enterprise into a Great Business. All Leaders must learn to delegate. If you want your organization to reach a new level, you have to learn to trust your people with tasks, a little at first and then more later. Try as much as possible not to do what you can delegate or outsource.
A true leader develops the people around him or her and one great way to do that is to trust them with a task. It has a way of boosting their self-confidence and increases their sense of belonging to your cause.
I wish you greater productivity as you break out of the Activity Trap to achieve your best dreams.
Dr Egwim Ndubuisi