Learning the Difference between “Activity” and “Productivity”

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Employees and owners alike, assume that if they’re busy, that they are doing their job. They naturally associate “busyness” with success, and unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Instead, success is knowing the difference between being busy with activities and being productive.


Consider the last time that you were “busy.” The day flew by and when the clock struck 5 pm, you felt like you had accomplished nothing. How frustrating.

What were the tasks that made you so “busy” yet unfulfilled? Typically, these include tasks that took a lot of time and effort with little reward. Or, they’re the mundane monthly to-do’s that only can complete. These are what we call “activities,” and they’re usually unavoidable in running a small business.

An “Activity,” in terms of a small business, are tasks that are necessary to your business, but take too much of your valued time and energy. These could be anything from payroll tasks, bookkeeping,  or organizing leads. They are different for every business and while necessary, they don’t always lead to successful business practices.


Now, let’s shift gears and think about a time that the clock struck 5pm and again the day flew by. It was another “busy” day, but you felt like you had accomplished a lot. Think about how you felt at that moment. Feels good, right?

What was different about that day? You obviously crossed tasks off your to-do list, but why did this “busy” day feel different than the other? Maybe it was because the mundane tasks you had to complete were those that you had systems and processes set up to assist you in completing them. Or maybe, you were able to prioritize a major project or proposal and hit the “send” button. At the end of the day, you felt accomplished… you felt productive.

This is a prime example of how setting up systems and processes can take a “busy” day of unfulfilling “activities” and transform them into a productive day that leads to success in your business. Systems and processes transform your business… and they are the building blocks to success.

Because of these instilled systems and processes in your business, the busy “activities” that sucked up your time and effort before now make you feel energized by the amount of work you completed. And because you were productive in one area, you were able to take a step back, and prioritize the more important items that needed your attention.

Activities are a time suck. They waste your energy and make you feel unaccomplished after a “busy” day. Having systems and processes set up can drastically take activities from wasted time to time well spent.


The essential question to ask yourself as you prepare for your day is this: “Are the activities I am doing today contributing to the successful performance of the job I was hired for?”

If the activities on your to-do list are taking you away from chasing a new lead or focusing on a big project you’ve been assigned, then the answer to this is “No.” Instead, those activities are making you less productive, inefficient and they are not setting you up for success.

If these activities were automated, or has a set system or process in place to assist you in completing them faster and more efficiently, while still maintaining accuracy, then you could easily answer “Yes” to that question, as they are contributing to the overall success of your business by allowing you to focus on things that are more important.


Additional questions to consider are the following:

“Do I have a system set up for this activity that will help me be more productive with completing this task?”

“Did I achieve my end goals at the end of the day? Could I have achieved more?”

“What is my role? What are people depending on me to get done? Did my activities today lead me closer to achieving the things I am responsible for?


We are all guilty of being busy with activities and unproductive. It’s natural in business.  The difference in running a successful business is being able to honestly answer the questions above and make a change from being busy with “activities” to being busy with productive systems and processes that will move your business forward.

Want to learn more about how to set up effective systems and processes for your business? Sign up for you free, 30-minute consultation today!

Want to learn more about how to set up effective systems and processes for your business? Sign up for a free, 30-minute consult today!

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